It's been clear for much of the season that something hasn't quite been right between Gokhan Inler and Valon Behrami. What was once one of the most effective central midfield partnerships in Serie A has been anything but for Napoli this season, and it's been clear that it's not just a tactical issue with how Rafa Benitez deploys them.
Now Behrami has shed some light on the issue, as the Swiss international spoke about his connection with Inler during a recent interview on how tough his season has been. Earlier in the season after a tough run of games for Behrami, Inler's agent made a series of disparaging remarks about Valon in the media, and Inler never stepped up to his friend's defense.
"Inler’s agent really disappointed me, because at that moment I had given my all on the field," said Behrami. At that point he hoped to hear something, anything, from Inler to refute his agent's words, even saying that he could have "resolved the situation with a Tweet."
Inler, however, stayed silent, not disagreeing with his agent at all, at least not in any public spaces. "The fact he did not [say anything] really let me down," Behrami admitted. "Our rapport has changed after that affair."
That their "rapport has changed" has been painfully clear on the pitch over the last few months, as the two just don't seem to work together well on the field any more. What once seemed like an almost telepathic connection between the two Swiss stars is now a disjointed, sloppy mess more often than not, as was painfully evident during Saturday's draw with Udinese.
If it seems that their relationship is damaged beyond repair, then it shouldn't be surprising to see one of them sold in the summer. It's seemed likely for awhile now that Napoli would probably sell one of their Swiss trio of Inler, Behrami, and Blerim Dzemaili in order to retool and rebalance the midfield a bit, but before this many figured it would be Dzei to get the boot. With this news floating out in the public space, it seems likely that Behrami has moved to the top of the list, as Inler is the better midfielder of the two and has shown a much better pairing with Jorginho than Behrami has since the Brazilian arrived in January.
It's a shame to see the two fall out like this. Inler and Behrami were once a dominant pairing, bringing fear to opponents all over Italy. At least the mystery of why they've been so ineffective together has something of an answer now, albeit an unfortunate one. Hopefully they can find some way to repair their friendship down the line, but for now they need to find a way to work together better for the sake of the club.
This is why agents shouldn't be allowed to talk in public.