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Monday, 13 July 2020

Preview: Inter's title challenge boosted as Conte gets his way

Conte has been complaining all season about his sqaud's lack of experience and strength in depth, insisting he needs more players if Inter are to end the Juventus' long-standing domination

Reuters , Thursday 30 Jan 2020
Antonio Conte
Inter Milan's head coach Antonio Conte follows the game during an Italian Cup quarter finals soccer match between Inter Milan and Fiorentina at the San Siro stadium, in Milan, Italy, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. (AP)
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Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte is not easily pleased, but even he was satisfied with the club's performance in the transfer window with three new arrivals to boost their Serie A title challenge.

Conte has been complaining all season about his sqaud's lack of experience and strength in depth, insisting he needs more players if Inter are to end the Juventus' long-standing domination.

In one angry outburst in November he said the club had made "important mistakes at the planning stage" and warned that they could not expect to win anything by signing players from Cagliari and Sassuolo - a reference to Nicolo Barella and Stefano Sensi respectively.

His nagging of the Inter leadership finally paid off this month, the famously combative coach finally getting his way with the addition of Victor Moses, Ashley Young and Christian Eriksen, all from English Premier League clubs.

Meanwhile, winger Matteo Politano was dispatched to Napoli and Austrian winger Valentino Lazaro was given a loan move to Newcastle.

Inter, whose last three Serie A matches have produced 1-1 draws, are three points behind leaders Juventus and visit lowly Lecce on Sunday. Juventus, who are chasing a ninth successive title, have a tougher match at home to a Fiorentina side enjoying a revival under new coach Giuseppe Iachini.

Meanwhile, third-placed Lazio, who are two further points behind Inter but with a game in hand, host relegation-threatened SPAL.

"I think we have operated in a smart and functional manner to improve the squad and the goal has been achieved with Moses, Young and Eriksen," Conte told reporters after Wednesday's 2-1 Coppa Italia win against Fiorentina.

Denmark midfielder Eriksen, who had been the main target, was finally signed from Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday and was rushed into the side for his debut as a substitute on Wednesday.

"I catapulted him into the match, something I would not never usually do as new players must first have an idea of our system of football," said Conte.

"Eriksen must now grasp our style of play but has already demonstrated his characteristics. He’s an adaptable and intelligent player, always finding himself in the right positions.

"Obviously, he’ll raise our game in terms of experience and quality."

On the other hand, Conte now knows there will be no room for excuses if Inter continue to drop points. Inter have now spent about 180 million euros ($199.7 million) on new signings since Conte replaced Luciano Spalletti before the start of the season.

"We have started a new era and are happy with the journey so far," said Giuseppe Marotta, the club's chief executive for sport.

"Inter today have a different sort of appeal. We hope that this is the start of a new generation of champions." ($1 = 0.9014 euros)

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