As Piero Ausilio arrived at Malpensa airport on Monday morning to catch his flight out to the United States, where he is set to meet with the club hierarchy and a very disgruntled Roberto Mancini, Inter's sporting director was swamped by various media outlets and asked for clarification on several issues clouding the club's future. Here's what he had to say...
You've heard of Napoli's offer for Icardi, what is the situation regarding him?
"That Napoli have spoken to Icardi's people seems pretty clear. To be honest we've also had contact with Napoli but Inter's position is very clear: it's not a question of money, there are no talks in place. Inter are keeping Icardi just like they're keeping all the other top players in this team. Our idea is to reinforce Inter and to do that we're keeping hold of Icardi and not selling him regardless of the figures offered to us."
So you're defining him as untouchable regardless of whatever Napoli could offer?
"It doesn't interest us what Napoli can offer. Napoli have parted with their own centre-forward because there was a release clause in place, Icardi doesn't have a release clause and Inter's will is very clear: Icardi remains at Inter."
Is an adjustment to his contract possible?
"Between us and the player there's no problem, Icardi is working very hard. Let's not forget he's been an Inter player for several years now, he has a daily relationship with us and has been assigned the captain's armband. It's an honour for him, players like Picchi, Facchetti and Zanetti have worn it in the past. We've always been attentive to his demands, it wouldn't be the first time he renews his contract, but when we have done it before it was because it was the right time to do so. I don't exclude anything but right now is not the right time for a renewal, neither for Icardi nor for any other players. At the moment there are other priorities: the pitch, the daily work. Further ahead we'll see, when all of this media fanfare disappears and we believe it to be the right time we'll consider talking about it."
What can you say of Mancini's reported unrest?
"I know little about this. I speak frequently with Mancini about football, but I don't know his current sensations. The President is there in America and as of tomorrow I will also be involved there. I'm not aware of anything in particular, with Mancini I speak about players, the mercato, the fact Icardi's not for sale and negotiations for various other players."
Will you do everything to keep him and make him change his mind?
"As far as I'm aware he doesn't have other ideas, he's the coach of Inter and still has one year on his contract. I'm part of this project just like he is and we need to try and keep what's best for Inter in mind through work and reinforcements for the team. Let's not forget that, unlike some others, we have already signed three players of international pedigree; Banega, Ansaldi and Erkin. Inter have already done something this summer and we will do more still."
When Suning arrived there was a lot of talk regarding young players, on top of Candreva the fans expect young names as well. It sounds like Gabriel Jesus is gone, at the moment you don't hear names of any other youngsters..."
"There's no names, there's planning. We've always signed young players, we have them in our youth system. Every year we provide talents such as Manaj, Gnoukouri and other lads who are added to the first-team squad. The new owners have been here for a month, you can't ask them to do in a month what others have done over several years. We don't want spend several years building up this project, but continue the work brought ahead by Moratti and Thohir. Our objective is to make Inter an important team and bring it back to the top of Italian football soon, as well as European football."
Is the league going to be all about Juve this season?
"Well, obviously we're talking about a team that was already the strongest and has since reinforced themselves even further with fantastic players. But I'm used to concentrating on ourselves. What interests me is what we have to do here with Inter, it doesn't terrify me that they've signed Higuain. We know we still have to do something else this summer, but we have a good team already and someone else will arrive."
Have you made progress for Candreva yet?
"For Candreva there are talks ongoing, I don't deny that. In terms of his quality as a player no one has ever denied that it would be a pleasure to have him at Inter - the problem is the economic distance that exists between us and Lazio. There are official negotiations in place, I met Lotito the other evening [at the presentation of the new Serie A calendar on Friday] , let's see if there are the conditions to bring Candreva here... Nobody can discuss his ability as a footballer though."
Is Gabbiadini someone who could interest you?
"Gabbiadini at this moment in time is not part of our plans for the team."
Is a deal for Berardi definitively out of the question?
"It's been out of the question for a month and a half, since when we asked Sassuolo for him. There might have been the possibility to do something for him but we were told there wasn't, so we went on to think about others."
Can you reassure everyone that against Chievo on the opening day Icardi, Brozovic and Perisic will all still be here?
"I've already responded to this at the start: at Inter we're only thinking about reinforcing the team. We're thinking about buying, not selling. It's not part of our ideas, it's not a question of prices; Napoli have made an official offer and so our relations with them will remain splendid. Icardi is Inter's captain and I hope I don't have to return to an argument that Inter do not wish to return to again."
Are three more signings possible this summer or will one be enough?
"There's Financial Fair Play to consider, for UEFA competitions we have to limit our squad to 21 players and at the moment we have 25-26. Some people will be leaving, talks have been in place for a few and scenarios have already been sketched out for others. Those who are leaving know they're leaving. For the moment we'll be happy to add one player and then further ahead we'll see what happens."