While the emotions of winning the Scudetto still haven’t worn off over a day after Atalanta’s 1-1 draw with Sassuolo, Beppe Marotta and Antonio Conte managed to refrain from non-stop celebrations. Instead, the two men behind the Nerazzurri’s championship offered interesting interviews to the Italian media Sunday.
*Thanks to FedeNerazzurra for the translations
Marotta: “We hope that this is the beginning of a new cycle. I want to put on the Inter shirt the second next year. I have a trusting relationship with ownership. I feel very good here at Inter & want to continue this path. Inter are one of the most important clubs in the world with rich history & it is right to continue enriching it. And the path ahead with Conte is a winning one.”
Beppe first spoke about what Inter’s 19th Scudetto means and Conte’s impact on the club. It’s only fitting that the man that started Juventus’ reign of dominance is the one that ended it and if anyone can return Inter to trophy-winning ways year after year, it’s Conte. With a starting XI almost completely in its prime, you can’t help but dream. Marotta also seemed to put to rest any doubts over his future in Milan after rumors popped up that he could return to Juve. Both Marotta and Conte have contracts expiring next summer, but there’s no reason for either to leave; the project has only just begun.
Marotta: “Selling Icardi might have seemed to be unpopular choice but it was necessary. It turned into a winning choice. Conte gave winning mentality to the players by isolating them from external problems.”
The 64-year-old also brought up Icardi’s departure. After the Argentine made so many memories with Inter throughout the 2010s (124 goals and 28 assists in 219 games), it was a shame to see his time in Milan in disgrace. But the decision to sell him for 50 million to PSG was undoubtedly the correct one. Romelu Lukaku has surpassed his impact on the pitch, while the absence of off-field problems (cough, cough, Wanda...) has its many benefits as well.
Marotta: “Conte deserves a lot of credits. He brought important values and passed them on to the players. None of them had won a title except Vidal. Lukaku was really excited on the plane yesterday. This is an extraordinary achievement for everyone.”
Marotta: “Two years ago, we made a difficult decision because we already had a good coach in Spalletti. But I proposed Conte to the club and I believed then he was the right coach in the right place at the right time.”
While Conte deserves enormous credit for Inter’s achievements under his watch, Luciano Spalletti laid the groundwork for his successor. Spalletti qualified Inter for the Champions League for both years of his tenure, providing a vital financial boost to the club. Without UCL money, players like Lukaku, Barella, and Hakimi could never have been afforded. Still, Spalletti took Inter as far as he could. Inter snuck into the top four on Matchday 38 of both Spalletti seasons, and while that was memorable, it’s not a recipe for success. A manager of Conte’s talents was required to finally break the trophy drought and the man from Lecce has proved his importance.
Marotta: I can say with certainty that there are no issues when it comes to Lautaro’s contract. Same with Bastoni. No issue. The transfer window? The free-agent market? Ausilio is attentive to everything. But before anything else, ownership will give us guidelines.”
While Inter’s financial issues are well-documented, Marotta confirmed that the contract renewals of Lautaro Martinez and Alessandro Bastoni are untroubled. With so many young players that have developed greatly under Conte’s tutelage, the wage bill will undoubtedly as their value rises. But keeping hold of players like Lautaro and Bastoni means Inter is spared from needing signings in those positions for a long time.
Conte: “We are calm, happy, and satisfied. Having won the Scudetto with four games to spare really makes us proud. For the remaining games, I will give minutes to those who have not played much. Starting today, we will be more relaxed. We will go to sleep peacefully and satisfied with what we have accomplished. We are very happy for all those that worked tirelessly to allow Inter to win again.”
Il mister spoke of the effect clinching the title has on the team and the knowledge that the number one priority was accomplished. While the non-stop grind of training and matches is not quite over, Inter can be mentally relaxed knowing they are champions. All of the hard work has paid off, and as Lukaku’s celebratory drive through the city showed, it means more to the players than anyone else. Conte also said squad rotation will be a major factor in the final four games of the season. Players like Andrea Pinamonti and Andrei Radu who have dutifully ridden the bench since September deserve a chance, and it looks like it will finally come.
Conte: “Does it bother me to hear that Inter play bad football? Absolutely. Inter play modern football. Inter can do it all. The players have learned to do everything and to read the game. And when you are able to do that then you will become a great team.”
Conte: “Deciding to join Inter was not easy because the team was not equipped to win right away. Also because the opponent was Juventus for whom I worked for for a long time. They dominated for nine years. Today we can say that our sacrifices have paid off. CL elimination and excessive criticism were key for this victory.”
Last but by no means least, Conte was asked about choosing to become Inter manager in the first place. The Nerazzurri had finished in fourth after squeaking past Empoli 2-1 on the final matchday and were 21 points off Juve. Fast forward two seasons and Inter are 13 points clear of the Old Lady and champions by Matchday 34. Conte looks to have taken the right path, and further cemented his legacy as one of the best managers in the modern game.