Why Inter’s new direction & Conte were incompatible

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May 28, 2021
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    With Conte (left) gone and Andrea Pirlo's future at Juventus in doubt, Serie A could look very different next seasonWith Conte (left) gone and Andrea Pirlo's future at Juventus in doubt, Serie A could look very different next season

    Just three weeks after winning their first Serie A title in 11 years, Inter Milan and Antonio Conte have parted ways.

    It will be difficult for fans to understand, after both parties decided to carry on together at the start of the season then exchanged messages of love on the journey to success.

    The reality is different though, and sees Inter and Conte on two very different wavelengths.

    So why did it happen and where does this leave Inter and indeed the entire landscape of Serie A?

    Why has Conte gone?

    The club and their owners have been hit hard by the pandemic and its economic consequences.

    Rumours of Inter's Chinese owners Suning seeking to sell up have been circulating for the past few months, and a recent 275m euro (£215m) loan from a United States investment firm was required to help the club through this very difficult period.

    The money will be used to cover this season's costs and wages, as well as to provide some small room for manoeuvre for the next one. And it will have to be paid back.

    But hiding a problem does not eliminate it; Inter are short of money and need to scale back their ambitions immediately, which is not compatible with Conte's goals.

    Conte met the club's directors before the final game against Udinese on Saturday and was made aware of their plans.

    Inter intend to increase their cash reserves and reduce the wage bill by 20%.

    A delegation of Inter fans have obtained confirmation from the club they will not undersell their players or give up on making a strong defence of their title, let alone look bad in the Champions League.

    Nevertheless, their shift of perspectives will bring massive consequences.

    Is everything Inter created this season crumbling?

    Selling at least one of their top players will be necessary, and the good news for Inter is that some have interest in them.

    Italy's Alessandro Bastoni has proved one of the best Serie A defenders at the age of 22, Netherlands centre-back Stefan de Vrij has been the most consistent central defender throughout the season and Morocco full-back Achraf Hakimi has more than proved his worth.

    Then there is top-scorer Romelu Lukaku and strike partner Lautaro Martinez, who had a long flirt with Barcelona last summer and who now seems to be a target of Real Madrid.

    And what about Nicolo Barella? Some say he's Europe's best midfielder right now and Italy boss Roberto Mancini will only agree with that.

    With the European Championship fewer than three weeks away, some of these players could be distracted by future opportunities.

    Although most players have contracts running until 2023 or 2024, their agents have already knocked on Inter's door seeking answers.

    The impact on Conte's reputation

    In the eyes of Italian fans, Conte's reputation is actually weaker rather than stronger.

    Conte has his goals and ambitions, which are legitimate and understandable, but there are those who believe money and personal glory are his main motivators.

    Some Juve fans have that opinion of their former manager and some of Inter's will now share it too.

    Inter do recognise, and rightly so, what Conte has done in the last two years; one Serie A title and runners up places both in the league and in the Europa League, as well as the technical, tactical and economic development of many players.

    This is why they will part with disappointment and even sadness on both sides, for what could have been but never was.

    What about Serie A as a whole?

    Italian fans all have a funny feeling in their stomachs right now.

    Inter finally won after 11 years and their manager and main character leaves while Juventus are on the brink of sacking an icon like Andrea Pirlo and losing their most important player in Cristiano Ronaldo.

    Italy's number one keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma is one step away from leaving AC Milan, even though they finally qualified for the Champions League – and this all after one of the most exciting seasons in the last 10 years.

    Add to that Juve's continued refusal to denounce the European Super League – spurred by a financial landscape they find unsustainable – and the questions are numerous.

    What's next? It will be a summer of dilemma for all Italy's top clubs, rather than one of certainty.

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