Title-Winning Conte Says ‘Ciao’ As Inter Milan Dream Ends In Cash Row

From L) Inter Milan’s Vice-President Javier Zanetti, Inter Milan’s President Steven Zhang, Inter Milan’s Italian coach Antonio Conte, Inter Milan’s Sports Coordinator Gabriele Oriali and Inter Milan’s CEO Giuseppe Marotta hold the Scudetto Trophy as Inter players and staff celebrate winning the Serie A 2020-2021 championship after their last Italian Serie A football match Inter Milan vs Udinese on May 23, 2021 at the San Siro stadium in Milan. MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP

 

Antonio Conte parted company with Inter Milan on Wednesday just days after lifting their first Serie A title in 11 years amid clashes with the club’s cash-strapped Chinese owners on the way forward.

The ambitious Italian refused Suning’s planned cost-cutting which would have prevented him from building the team he wanted to challenge at home and in Europe.

The former Chelsea and Juventus boss took over in May 2019 on a three-year contract worth a reported 12 million euros ($14 million) annually.

But the 51-year-old leaves the San Siro one year early, Inter confirming “an agreement has been reached with Antonio Conte for the termination of his contract by mutual consent”.

Inter Milan’s Italian coach Antonio Conte shouts instructions during the Italian Serie A football match Inter Milan vs Udinese on May 23, 2021 at the San Siro stadium in Milan.
MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP

“Antonio Conte will forever remain a part of our club’s history,” the statement added.

Severing Conte’s contract has cost the club a reported seven million euros ($8.5 million), while his final year’s salary would have been around 12 million.

As part of the deal Conte will not be allowed to coach another Serie A club next season, according to reports.

Among the names being touted to replace him are Lazio boss Simone Inzaghi and former Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri, who has also been linked with a return to the Turin club.

For Conte, future destinations could include Tottenham Hotspur and Real Madrid.

‘Like a war zone’

A demanding coach, whose training sessions were described by Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku as ‘like a war zone,’ Conte leaves Inter at the summit of Serie A, a feat last achieved by Jose Mourinho, who won the treble with the club in 2010.

It was a fifth league title for Conte having won three with Juventus between 2012 and 2014 and the Premier League with Chelsea in 2018.

But tensions had been ongoing, having already threatened to leave last summer after losing the Europa League final to Sevilla and finishing second in the league to Juventus.

Despite a second Champions League group stage exit this season Inter clinched their 19th Scudetto with a 12-point lead on AC Milan and with four games remaining.

“This is one of the most important successes of my career,” Conte said.

“Deciding to join Inter was not easy, the team was not equipped to win immediately.

“Furthermore, the opponent was Juventus for whom I had worked for a long time. Today we can say that our sacrifices have paid off.”

Conte rebuilt the ‘Nerazzurri,’ getting the best out of players including former Manchester United star Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez and Nicolo Barella, while others like Christian Eriksen and Ivan Perisic overcame initial difficulties to adapt to Conte’s style.

Captain Samir Handanovic and Lukaku both paid tribute to Conte on social media.

“You came at the right time and basically changed me as a player and made me even stronger mentally,” said Lukaku, Inter’s top scorer the past two seasons.

“Winning is all that matters to you. Thank you for all you did. I owe you a lot.”

Slovenian Handanovic, 36, who won his first trophy after nine years with the club, added: “You were the one who always raised the bar and put the right pressure on everyone… the one who made the difference. Thanks mister.”

Financial woes

Inter registered losses of 100 million euros ($122 million) last season mainly due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Suning Group shut down their Chinese club Jiangsu FC in February months after winning the Chinese Super League title.

Five days ago, Inter secured a cash injection worth 275 million euros with US investment firm Oaktree, in the form of a loan reported to be over three years.

In this context, Suning wants to save as much as possible both on the purchase of new players and salaries, and possibly selling those with the highest value, an approach unacceptable for Conte.

Conte’s three-year spell at Juventus remains the longest of a career already spanning seven clubs, and the Italian national team.

He took Bari and Siena into Serie A, began Juventus’ nine-year domination of the Italian top-flight, guided an unfancied Italy to the semi-finals of Euro 2016 and won the Premier League in his first season at Chelsea.

But he has never tasted European success, falling short with both Juventus and Chelsea before his near-miss with Inter.

AFP

Ten-Man Juve Beat Inter To Keep Champions League Hopes Alive

Juventus' Colombian midfielder Juan Cuadrado celebrates after scoring his first goal during the Italian Serie A football match Juventus vs Inter on May 15, 2021 at the Juventus stadium in Turin. Isabella BONOTTO / AFP
Juventus’ Colombian midfielder Juan Cuadrado celebrates after scoring his first goal during the Italian Serie A football match Juventus vs Inter on May 15, 2021 at the Juventus stadium in Turin.
Isabella BONOTTO / AFP

 

Juan Cuadrado scored twice, including a late penalty, as Juventus beat Inter Milan 3-2 to keep their Champions League hopes alive on Saturday in a game in which both teams finished a man down.

Juve moved up to fourth equal on points with third-placed AC Milan and two points ahead of Napoli who both play on Sunday.

The win ended the 20-match unbeaten run of Inter who had denied Juventus a 10th consecutive league title this season.

Cristiano Ronaldo missed a penalty after 24 minutes but turned in the rebound to bring his tally to a Serie A leading tally 29 goals this campaign.

But Inter got back level nine minutes later with a Romelu Lukaku penalty.

Juve pulled ahead before half-time when Cuadrado blasted in past Samir Handanovic.

Juve played most of the second half a man down after Rodrigo Bentancur was sent off for a second yellow car for a Lukaku tackle.

Captain Giorgio Chiellini turned into his own net with seven minutes to go but in a dramatic end to the game Juve were awarded a penalty for an Ivan Perisic foul on Cuadrado which the Colombian converted.

Inter also finished the game a man down with Marcelo Brozovic getting a second booking in injury time.

(From L) Inter Milan's Slovak defender Milan Skriniar, Inter Milan's Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku and Inter Milan's Moroccan defender Achraf Hakimi recat after Juventus scored an own goal during the Italian Serie A football match Juventus vs Inter on May 15, 2021 at the Juventus stadium in Turin. Isabella BONOTTO / AFP
(From L) Inter Milan’s Slovak defender Milan Skriniar, Inter Milan’s Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku and Inter Milan’s Moroccan defender Achraf Hakimi recat after Juventus scored an own goal during the Italian Serie A football match Juventus vs Inter on May 15, 2021 at the Juventus stadium in Turin. Isabella BONOTTO / AFP

 

Earlier Atalanta sealed their spot in the Champions League for a third consecutive season with a 4-3 win over Genoa.

The Bergamo side are second, three points ahead of AC Milan and Juventus, and are assured of elite European football before the two teams go head-to-head next weekend.

Atalanta paved the way with three first half goals.

Ruslan Malinovskyi set up Duvan Zapata for the opener and then scored himself, with Robin Gosens grabbing a third before the break.

Mario Pasalic added a fourth six minutes after the break before 14th-placed Genoa hit back with an Eldor Shomurodov brace either side of a Goran Pandev goal just after an hour.

“For us, returning to the Champions League this year tastes better,” said coach Gian Piero Gasperini, who brought the Bergamo side to elite European football for the first time in the 2019-2020 season.

“Three times in the Champions League is a great achievement. The trophy would be the icing on the cake, but we are convinced that we have won a lot anyway.”

Atalanta will bid for just their second ever trophy in the Coppa Italia final against Juventus next Wednesday in Reggio Emilia.

The club won the Coppa Italia back in 1963.

Even if Milan, who host 16th-placed Cagliari on Sunday, win their last two matches, Atalanta are now assured of a top-four finish.

 

AFP

Inter Beat Juventus To Move Level With Leaders Milan

 

 

Inter Milan beat champions Juventus 2-0 to move level on points with Serie A leaders AC Milan on Sunday, boosting their hopes of a first league title since 2010.

Arturo Vidal got his head to a Nicolo Barella cross after 12 minutes for his first league goal for Inter Milan against his former club.

Barella added the second six minutes after the break as Inter claimed a first win over Juventus since September 2016, ending a series of seven matches without a win.

Inter are equal on 40 points with local rivals Milan, who travel to Cagliari on Monday, with Juventus fifth, seven points behind the Milan teams with a game in hand.

For Inter coach Antonio Conte it was a first win in four meetings against the club he led to the first three of their current run of nine consecutive league titles.

Sevilla Beat Inter To Win Sixth Europa League Trophy

Sevilla’s players celebrate with the trophy after winning the UEFA Europa League final football match against Inter Milan on August 21, 2020, in Cologne, western Germany. Lars Baron / POOL / AFP

 

Sevilla won the Europa League for a sixth time as Diego Carlos’s overhead kick deflected in off Romelu Lukaku 16 minutes from time to beat Inter Milan 3-2 in a thrilling final in Cologne.

Carlos and Lukaku’s evening had got off to a very different start as the defender hauled the Belgian striker down and he converted the resulting penalty to put Inter in front after just five minutes.

Two Luuk De Jong headers turned the game around for Sevilla, but Diego Godin quickly levelled in a four-goal first half.

However, Italy’s wait for a first European trophy in a decade, and Inter’s nine-year trophy drought, goes on after Lukaku could not stop Carlos’s spectacular strike on another famous Europa League night for Sevilla.

Antonio Conte’s men will have a case that the Sevilla defender should have been sent off after just three minutes as Lukaku accelerated past him with ease on the counter-attack and was hauled to the ground by the Brazilian, who conceded an early penalty for the third consecutive game.

Carlos was only shown a yellow card, but Lukaku ensured Inter were rewarded as he confidently slotted home his 34th goal of the season to equal his idol Ronaldo’s record in his first season at Inter, which ended in Inter’s last UEFA Cup win 1997/98.

Sevilla players throw Spanish coach Julen Lopetegui in the air to celebrate after the UEFA Europa League final football match against Inter Milan on August 21, 2020, in Cologne, western Germany. Friedemann Vogel / POOL / AFP

 

De Jong has been far from that prolific in his first season in Spain, but the Dutch international suddenly hit form at the right time as he was handed a start by Julen Lopetegui after coming off the bench to score the winner in the semi-final against Manchester United.

Inter did not learn from that goal against the English giants.

Jesus Navas was again the provider and when De Jong got across Godin, his diving header had too much power for Samir Handanovic.

Tempers were also flaring in a pulsating first half with frequent confrontations between the benches as they tried to influence Dutch referee Danny Makkelie.

 

– Inter Chances –

Conte was booked as Inter appealed for a second penalty when Nicolo Barella chipped ball into the arm of Carlos.

Sevilla upset the odds when they came from behind to beat Liverpool for the fifth Europa League title four years ago and did the same to another European giant when De Jong rose highest to loop a brilliant header over Handanovic from Ever Banega’s free-kick.

However, the lead only lasted three minutes as Godin made amends with a bullet header of his own as the Uruguayan became the first defender to score in a Champions League and Europa League final.

Both sides had conceded just once in three games since arriving in Germany and after four goals inside 36 minutes, Conte and Lopetegui restored some semblance of order to their defences at the break.

Brazilian defender Diego Carlos (C) celebrates after Sevilla scored the 3-2 goal during the UEFA Europa League final football match against Inter Milan on August 21, 2020, in Cologne, western Germany. Martin Meissner / POOL / AFP

 

Inter were made to rue wasting the better opportunities in the second half as Navas and Carlos converged to block Roberto Galiardini’s effort.

Lukaku then had the chance to cap his excellent first season in Italy as he raced through on goal 25 minutes from time, but just as in the semi-final victory over United, Sevilla goalkeeper Bono produced a vital save when needed.

And like so many of their previous five Europa League final victories, Sevilla conjured up a moment of magic allied with a slice of fortune they needed to again take the trophy they call their own back to southern Spain.

Inter failed to clear another Banega free-kick into the box and Carlos more than made amends for some of his heavy-handed defending with an overhead kick that deflected in off the unfortunate Lukaku.

Conte threw on the former Premier League trio of Christian Eriksen, Alexis Sanchez and Victor Moses in response and it was Sanchez who had the chance to make himself a hero by taking the game to extra time.

But the Chilean failed to get enough purchase on his shot among a goalmouth scramble and Jules Kounde cleared off the line.

AFP

Napoli Beat Inter To Reach Italian Cup Final As Mertens Breaks Record

Napoli's Senegalese defender Kalidou Koulibaly (L) works around Inter Milan's Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku during the Italian Cup (Coppa Italia) semi-final second leg football match Napoli vs Inter Milan on June 13, 2020 at the San Paolo stadium in Naples, played behind closed doors as the country gradually eases its lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP
Napoli’s Senegalese defender Kalidou Koulibaly (L) works around Inter Milan’s Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku during the Italian Cup (Coppa Italia) semi-final second leg football match Napoli vs Inter Milan on June 13, 2020. Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

 

Dries Mertens fired Napoli to the Italian Cup final on Saturday after netting the goal which gave his side a 2-1 aggregate semi-final win over Inter Milan and made him the club’s all-time top scorer.

Napoli will face Juventus in Wednesday’s final in Rome thanks to Belgium forward Mertens, who slotted home his 122nd goal for Napoli four minutes before half-time to make the score 1-1 on the night and give them overall victory after a 1-0 first-leg win at the San Siro in February.

Christian Eriksen had levelled the tie for Inter straight from a corner in the second minute and the away side continued to dominate the first half, but Mertens ended a lightning counter-attack to put the hosts through at the Stadio San Paolo.

Mertens, 33, overtakes Marek Hamsik and moves seven clear of Diego Maradona, who scored 115 goals in all competitions and won two Serie A titles and the UEFA Cup over his seven tumultuous years in southern Italy.

Although there were no fans in the stands at the San Paolo, public broadcaster RAI reported that a small number of Napoli fans that had gathered outside the San Paolo set off fireworks throughout half-time in celebration of Merten’s goal.

Mertens moved to Napoli from PSV Eindhoven in 2013 and has become so settled in Naples that fans have nicknamed him ‘Ciro’, a hugely common Neapolitan name.

Napoli will take on Juve at the Italian capital’s Stadio Olimpico after Maurizio Sarri’s side squeezed past AC Milan on away goals following a 0-0 draw in Turin on Friday, Italy’s first competitive football match since the country become the global coronavirus epicentre.

As with Friday’s match, Napoli and Inter players gathered around the centre circle for a minute’s silence in tribute to the more than 34,000 people who have died in Italy as a result of COVID-19.

There will likely be a big television audience for two of Italy’s best-supported clubs.

According to Italian media, some 8.3 million people tuned into RAI to watch Friday’s goalless draw at Juve’s Allianz Stadium, the largest TV audience for a football match this season.

Messi To Miss Barca’s Champions League Trip To Inter

Barcelona’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi waves before the 54th Joan Gamper Trophy friendly football match between Barcelona and Arsenal at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on August 4, 2019. Josep LAGO / AFP

 

Barcelona star Lionel Messi will not make the trip to Italy for Tuesday’s Champions League game against Inter Milan, the Spanish club confirmed on Monday. 

Barcelona are already through to the last 16 after six-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi scored in a convincing 3-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund last time out.

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The Spaniards are also sure of finishing top of Group F as they have 11 points from five games.

Antonio Conte’s Inter still have to book their place in the last 16. They are second, level on seven points with Borussia Dortmund who host Slavia Prague.

Inter will qualify if the two clubs finish on the same number of points due to their superior head-to-head goal difference.

AFP

Inter Regain Serie A Lead With Derby Triumph

Romelu Lukaku (Top C), Lautaro Martinez (4thL), Antonio Candreva (FrontR), Stefan de Vrij (R) and teammates acknowledge the public at the end of the Italian Serie A football match AC Milan vs Inter Milan on September 21, 2019, at the San Siro stadium in Milan. Marco Bertorello / AFP

 

 

Romelu Lukaku fired Inter Milan back top of Serie A with the second goal of a 2-0 derby win that extended their perfect start to the season at the expense of city rivals AC Milan.

Belgium striker Lukaku and Marcelo Brozovic’s second-half strikes gave Inter their fourth win in as many games, putting them two points ahead of Juventus after the champions’ came back from a goal down beat Verona 2-1 thanks to Aaron Ramsey’s first Serie A goal and a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty.

Antonio Conte’s Inter were looking for a boost after their dismal 1-1 draw in their Champions League draw against Czech outsiders Slavia Prague.

And they hit back in a fiery Milan derby with Belgian striker Lukaku heading in his third goal in four games with 12 minutes remaining after Brozovic’s 49th-minute opener.

Milan could thank Gianluigi Donnarumma for keeping the match goalless in the first half after he denied Lautaro Martinez, Lukaku and Danilo D’Ambrosio.

Lautaro had a goal ruled out after 35 minutes for being marginally offside. But the breakthrough came four minutes after the break when Stefano Sensi set up Brozovic, whose deflected shot beat Donnarumma and was confirmed after consultation with VAR.

Lukaku sealed the win and a perfect 12 points from four games when he guided Nicolo Barella’s cross home with a glancing header, as AC Milan slip to ninth place with six points.

– Buffon back –

Juventus had trailed in Turin to Miguel Veloso’s goal before Wales midfielder Ramsey pulled the champions level in the 31st minute, with Ronaldo’s spot-kick ensuring the win for the hosts just after the break.

It got Maurizio Sarri’s side back to winning ways after last weekend’s Serie A stalemate at Fiorentina and a 2-2 Champions League draw at Atletico Madrid midweek.

Italian goalkeeping legend Gianluigi Buffon returned to the Juventus goal after spending a season in Paris Saint-Germain to match Paolo Maldini’s Italian record of 902 club matches.

Buffon’s appearances have been spread across three clubs — Parma, Juventus and PSG — with Maldini having spent his entire career with Serie A rivals Milan.

But the 41-year-old could not keep a clean sheet and was beaten by Veloso after 21 minutes.

Amid confusion in front of the Juve goal after Simone Di Carmine missed a Verona penalty, and Darko Lazovic’s rebound rattled the bar, Veloso pounced to rifle a long-range strike past Buffon.

But Ramsey got the champions back on level terms 10 minutes later on his full debut, with a deflected effort past Verona goalkeeper Marco Silvestri.

Ronaldo put Juventus ahead from the spot with just his second goal this season three minutes after the restart, having missed two chances before the break.

Juve held on thanks to Buffon, who denied Mattia Zaccagni and Lazovic in front of goal after 89 minutes, while Veloso was denied a brace by the post.

“After the Champions League the team was tired, but the important thing was to win. Let’s take these three points and go ahead,” said Ronaldo.

Verona are 12th with four points from as many games.

Cagliari and Brescia are seventh and eighth respectively, with each on six points, after the Sardinian side saw off Genoa 3-1 on Friday and newly-promoted Brescia snatched a tight 1-0 win at third-from-bottom Udinese.

Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli travel south to promoted Lecce on Sunday after seeing off European champions Liverpool 2-0 on Tuesday, while third-placed Bologna can join Juve on 10 points with a win over mid-table Roma.

AFP

Cagliari Escape Punishment After Lukaku Monkey Chants

Inter Milan’s Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku celebrates after scoring during the Italian Serie A football match Inter Milan vs US Lecce on August 26, 2019 at the San Siro stadium in Milan.
Miguel MEDINA / AFP

 

Cagliari have escaped punishment for the racist chanting their fans aimed at Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku in a Serie A match earlier this month, the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) announced Tuesday.

Belgian Lukaku, 26, was targeted by monkey chants before scoring the winning penalty that earned Inter Milan a 2-1 triumph in Sardinia on September 1.

But the FIGC’s sports judges ruled that reports of “chants, shouts, whistles and screams” from the home fans’ ‘Curva Nord’ (North Stand) just before Lukaku’s penalty could not be considered discriminatory in terms of “size and real perception”.

“The sport judge has decided not to apply sanctions against Cagliari,” the sports judges ruled.

After scoring the penalty, Lukaku made a post-match plea for football authorities to unite against the blight of racism.

Everton’s Moise Kean suffered similar taunts while playing for Juventus at Cagliari’s Sardegna Arena, alongside teammate Blaise Matuidi, after he scored a goal there for his former team Juventus last April.

Cagliari, who issued a statement after the match condemning the abuse, were however fined 5,000 euros ($5,500) for fans throwing plastic bottles at officials onto the pitch.

AFP

Fiorentina Hold Napoli As Martinez Gets Inter Back Winning

Fiorentina Beat Napoli As Martinez Gets Inter Back Winning
Fiorentina’s Italian defender Federico Ceccherini (L) and Napoli’s Italian forward Lorenzo Insigne go for the ball during the Italian Serie A football match Fiorentina vs Napoli on February 9, 2019 at the Artemio-Franchi stadium in Florence. Tiziana FABI / AFP

 

Napoli could finish the weekend trailing Serie A leaders Juventus by 11 points after Carlo Ancelotti’s wasteful side stuttered to a 0-0 draw at Fiorentina on Saturday, as Lautaro Martinez scored the only goal to get Inter Milan back winning against promoted Parma.

Both sides start their Europa League campaigns this week after crashing out of the Champions League with Napoli travelling to FC Zurich and Inter Milan away to Rapid Vienna in their round of the 32, first leg ties.

Fiorentina goalkeeper Alban Lafont produced a string of saves to deny Piotr Zielinski and Dries Mertens as Napoli failed to score away from home for the third game running.

“We dropped two points that we would’ve deserved for attacking from start to finish,” said Ancelotti.

“In some ways, it was an impeccable performance, but we weren’t clinical enough in front of goal and were forced to make do with a point.”

Ancelotti’s side have now been held twice in the past three games while hosts Fiorentina drew for the 11th time in 23 matches this season to sit ninth, but just six points off the Champions League berths.

The Tuscany side’s best chance came just after half-time when French midfielder Jordan Veretout was denied by an excellent stop from Alex Meret.

Inter Milan, in third, got back winning after Martinez came off the bench late, scoring after 79 minutes at Parma, after an earlier Danilo D’Ambrosio headed goal was ruled out after a VAR video review for a handling offence.

Belgian midfielder Radja Nainggolan crossed nicely for the Argentine blast in Luciano Spalletti’s side their first league goal and win of 2019.

Inter are now nine points behind Napoli, with Roma in fourth, a further five points behind, and Lazio fifth after their wins over Chievo and Empoli earlier this week.

“I’m well suited to overcoming difficulties,” said under-pressure Inter Milan coach Spalletti.

“Just as the defeat against Bologna (last week) caused despair, this victory will give us enthusiasm and strength.

“We must now keep a low profile to rediscover stability. We showed positive things tonight, but we need to produce further performances like this to gain consistency.”

Parma are in 12th position with just one goal from their last five games, despite their heroics last week with a late Gervinho double holding champions Juventus 3-3.

Unbeaten Juventus could stretch their advantage to double digits on Sunday when they travel to mid-table Sassuolo, firming on track for an eighth consecutive league title.

Inter Welcome Rejected Juventus CEO Marotta

Giuseppe Marotta. Credit: Juventus.com

 

Serie A giants Inter Milan on Thursday announced former Juventus supremo Giuseppe Marotta as their new Chief Executive Officer Sport.

Marotta was recently ousted by Juventus following an eight-year spell as CEO in which he oversaw many of the club’s recruitment operations in a spell which reaped seven Serie A titles, four Italian Cups and two runners-up finish in the Champions League.

Inter announced on their website: “FC Internazionale Milano announce the appointment of Giuseppe Marotta as Chief Executive Officer Sport. The highly experienced executive begins his role immediately and will be responsible for the entire sports area of the club.

“FC Internazionale Milano will adopt a co-CEO model, in which Marotta will work alongside Alessandro Antonello, who becomes Chief Executive Officer Corporate in charge of all corporate activities.”

Chinese-owned Inter’s president, Steven Zhang, said: “This is an important change for the club in line with our objective of becoming a winning football club and a successful company.

“As Inter, we want to win, entertain, inspire and connect people through football. Beppe is one of the best executives in the football industry and will help us to achieve our goals.”

Marotta said: “I am happy and proud to be beginning a new professional challenge at a prestigious club such as Inter.

“President Steven Zhang has an ambitious project and I am looking forward to becoming an active part of that.

AFP

Barcelona Reach Champions League Last 16 After Inter Draw

Barcelona’s Brazilian midfielder Malcom (c) celebrates after opening the scoring during the UEFA Champions League group B football match Inter Milan vs Barcelona on November 6, 2018, at San Siro stadium in Milan. Miguel MEDINA / AFP

 

Barcelona qualified for the knockout stage of the Champions League despite Mauro Icardi snatching a late 1-1 draw for Inter Milan at the San Siro on Tuesday.

Icardi struck in the 87th minute to grab the draw just four minutes after a neat curling strike from substitute Malcom gave Barca the lead.

Ernesto Valverde’s side, who stay top of Group B with 10 points, three ahead of Inter and six away from third-placed Spurs, go through due to their strong head-to-head record with both rivals.

 

Spalletti Rules Out Inter Transfer Market Raid

Spalletti Rules Out Inter Transfer Market Raid
Inter Milan’s coach Luciano Spalletti from Italy gestures during the football match against Lazio on December 30, 2017, at the ‘San Siro Stadium’ in Milan. MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP

 

Inter Milan coach Luciano Spalletti has ruled out any big-money transfers by the title-chasing Chinese-owned club in the January transfer market.

Inter are third in Serie A — seven points behind leaders Napoli — as they chase a first Serie A title since 2010.

But Spalletti said the club wanted their players to know they were valued and did not want to fall foul of financial fair play restrictions.

“You can say names – (Henrikh) Mkhitaryan, (Javier) Pastore, (Simone) Verdi but they’d cost 30 million euro and we don’t have that,” said Spalletti, the former Roma coach.

“To keep saying we need to have a big transfer campaign, after the club has made it clear there are certain parameters to be respected, seems to me the best way to get hurt.

“It’s not right and it’s not respectful. It also seems to me that it reduces the possibility of improving the level of the team, by thinking about new arrivals.

“It’s the wrong message for our group because one player can’t change the fate of a team and we can’t do big things in this window.

“These players need to know I’m sure of their qualities, they have the potential.

“Opportunity creates the thief, and the transfer market creates the distracted player.”

Chinese businessman Zhang Jindong’s Suning group paid nearly 270 million euros ($326 million) for Inter Milan in June 2016.

The club finished seventh last season, but under new coach Spalletti made a storming start to the 2017-18 campaign, going unbeaten before back-to-back league losses in December and an exit from the Italian Cup at the hands of city rivals AC Milan.

“We’ve lost two or three matches where clearly we could have done better, but that can happen,” added Spalletti.

Inter face Fiorentina and former Inter coach Stefano Pioli on Friday.

AFP