The confetti thrown after their Serie A win has barely touched the ground, but Inter Milan are already plunged into despair after a historic season.
A first Scudetto title in a decade was not enough to keep Antonio Conte at the club, who resigned his role as head coach on Wednesday, just three days after winning the Italian top-level title at San Siro.
The reasoning behind his dismissal is just as baffling as his decision to do so. Inter, at the top of their game and facing a fourth straight season in the Champions League, are in financial ruin.
Antonio Conte retired from Inter Milan on Wednesday to bring the Serie A champions into a meltdown
Conte left the Nerazzurri just three days after winning Inter’s first Scudetto title since 2010
A £ 250 million loan from Oaktree Capital has boosted finances and prevented the club’s financial ruin, but that’s not enough. Inter must raise a further £ 87 million from player sales and also impose a 20 percent pay cut on the first team.
Conte refused to get on board with that philosophy, so he switched. The question is – what the hell is happening now?
The loss of the 51-year-old coach is a big blow to Inter’s development in the short term. Only the Italian could have imagined that the Serie A title win and the large influx of players over the past two years means that this really was Conte’s Inter.
The search for a new head coach is underway, but player sales have yet to take place no matter who is next door. The most likely departure is star striker Romelu Lukaku, who could cover almost all of Inter’s financial goal on his own after a fantastic season.
Several Inter Milan stars have to be sold to raise money, including Romelu Lukaku
The Belgian forward was pivotal to Inter’s title win, scoring 30 goals for the second consecutive season at San Siro.
Losing Lukaku would be a huge blow to Inter’s progression, but a high transfer fee would limit the number of exits needed.
The 27-year-old is reportedly valued at around £ 77 million with his wages totaling around £ 10 million.
One stumbling block, however, is that Lukaku is one of the great strikers that will be on the move this summer.
Premier League teams are more likely to pay a large fee to Tottenham’s Harry Kane, given his top England flight experience. Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland is seven years younger than Lukaku and would be a more sensible investment in the long run.
Lukaku has been pivotal to Inter’s recent title success, scoring 30 goals in all competitions this season
Barcelona-bound Sergio Agüero is the cheap option on the market with a free transfer, while Kylian Mbappé could also take over most of a major club’s finances this summer should he break free from the shackles of Paris Saint-Germain. .
But should Conte find a new club quickly – be it the vacant Real Madrid post or an English side like Tottenham – Lukaku might be tempted to join the departed Inter boss there, because of the ‘band. ‘which the couple has as its head and head. trainer.
Lukaku concluded an emotional tribute to Conte on Thursday by saying, ‘You came at the right time and fundamentally changed me as a player and made me even stronger mentally and more importantly, we won together!
‘Winning is and it’s the only thing that matters to you and I’m glad I had you as a coach. I will keep your principles for the rest of my career (physical preparation, mental and just the drive to win …). It was a pleasure to play for you! Thank you for everything you have done. I owe you a lot .. @antonioconte. ‘
Lukaku’s (middle) sales may depend on how quickly Coach Conte (right) finds a new job
Another potential departure is Lautaro Martinez, who was linked with a mega-money move to Barcelona last summer before pricing the Catalans out of a switch, battling their own financial armageddon.
The 23-year-old forward played his own part in Inter’s successful season with 19 goals and 11 assists this season and as a result has been linked with a move to the Madrid, Atletico and Real teams.
Martinez has a contract until 2023 and with the 20 percent pay cut for the Inter players meaning contract renewals are unlikely, this may be the best chance for the Nerazzurri to cash in on the Argentinian.
Achraf Hakimi is another player who could charge a large fee to help with the financial turmoil Inter finds themselves in. The Moroccan fullback scored seven times and registered six assists during the final term, offering versatility across multiple systems.
Achraf Hakimi (left) and Lautaro Martinez (right) could soon also leave the Serie A champions
Real Madrid have been linked with the £ 45 million defender, while PSG could decide to offer £ 25 million plus midfielder Leandro Paredes in a bid that could entice Inter.
Also in the back, Inter could also lose the experienced goalkeeper Samir Handanovic this summer, despite the fact that he still has a year to go before his deal.
The champions of Serie A ideally want a new goalkeeper, but can also promote the young shot stopper Andrei Radu to number 1 to keep costs down.
Big decisions await Inter owner Steven Zhang, who is dealing with fan revolts at not one but two of the clubs he owns.
Already unpopular with fans after seven months away from Milan before returning to the Italian city for the title party this week, Zhang was the subject of protest banners on Wednesday following the news that Conte was leaving.
Inter-owner Steven Zhang has become very unpopular with the club’s supporters of late
‘Don’t Touch Antonio Conte … Take Responsibility Or Leave’ was the message Inter fans gave their owner through a number of banners, which is very similar to the angry protests from Chinese Super League side Jiangsu Suning, of which Zhang also owns it.
The 29-year-old businessman raised funding from the Chinese summit earlier this year, prompting fans to call on him to follow ‘Get Out of China’ after that call.
Zhang’s unpopularity adds more substance to the question: who would want to manage the poisoned chalice that is Inter Milan?
The ideal target is Lazio boss Simone Inzaghi, famous for transforming the Roman side.
Inter thought they could hire Lazio head coach Simone Inzaghi as Conte’s replacement
Inter-CEO Giuseppe Marotta looked like he’d gotten the all-clear from Inzaghi to take over recently, but the 45-year-old now appears to be holding on to Lazio.
Former Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri is also an option, but it looks like the 53-year-old will forge a reunion at the Old Lady – and Andrea Pirlo’s future is unlikely to stay at the Allianz Stadium.
Other than that, there aren’t too many standout choices. Paulo Fonseca would not be a popular option given his poor end to the season with Roma, while former Inter midfielder and assistant coach Sinisa Mihajlovic could be tempted from the center of Bologna.
Former Inter star Dejan Stankovic, who won the Champions League in 2011 with the Nerazzurri, has just lifted the Serbian titles with Red Star Belgrade and was Inter’s team coordinator between 2015 and 2016.
Dejan Stankovic (left) and Sinisa Mihajlovic (right) were considered as other possible options
The bad shortlist of names shows just how unpopular working for Zhang’s Inter is at the moment
It is not a shortlist of managers that reflects how good Inter has been over the past two years.
The next Inter coach must be a major coup as AC Milan and Juventus come back stronger, while Roma have taken on Jose Mourinho.
Managing Inter should be an attractive option – a title-winning team, regular Champions League football, a passionate but loyal fan base, and a new stadium on the way.
But right now, under the direction of Zhang and his summer plans, it’s anything but a happy place to work.