Football Features

Why is Antonio Conte suggesting he’ll leave Inter and who would replace him?

By CJ Smith

Published: 16:30, 24 August 2020

After finishing runner-up to Juventus in Serie A by just one point, there was more frustration for Inter Milan on Friday as they lost the Europa League final 3-2 to Sevilla.

It was a disappointing end to what has undoubtedly been a season of progress for the Nerazzurri under Antonio Conte but after the match, the Italian tactician stated publicly that he may, in fact, be leaving the club in the near future.

“We’re going to meet next week with the club and we’ll decide about my future,” Conte told reporters after the final. “I’m not sure that I’ll be the Inter manager next season, we’ll decide together. Inter will plan the future with or without me.”

Inter still fancied to be Juventus’ closest challengers in 2020/21:

Despite the uncertainty around the club, Inter remain second-favourites to win the Serie A title, sitting only behind defending champions Juventus according to odds from William Hill.

William Hill’s 2020/21 Serie A favourites:

  1. Juventus – 4/5
  2. Inter Milan – 2/1
  3. Atalanta – 10/1
  4. Napoli – 12/1
  5. AC Milan – 20/1

18+ only, Be Gamble Aware.

How did Inter lose the Europa League final?

Despite having conceded the fewest goals in Serie A this season (36), Inter can mostly blame their defending for falling to defeat against Sevilla in what was one of the more entertaining Europa League finals in recent memory.

The Nerazzurri were ahead within five minutes thanks to a Romelu Lukaku penalty but found themselves 2-1 down by the 33rd minute after conceding to two Luuk de Jong headers. Despite Diego Godin heading them level, Conte’s side were finished off in the 74th minute as they once again failed to deal with an Ever Banega cross when the ball fell to Diego Carlos, whose overhead kick Lukaku diverted into his own net.

An inability to defend crosses hindered Inter on the night, with Banega consistently targeting their far post.

What’s more, despite dominating possession (53%-47%), Inter’s midfield failed to find any of the fluidity enjoyed by Sevilla’s triumvirate of Banega, Fernando and Joan Jordan.

Marcelo Brozovic, Roberto Gagliardini and Nicolo Barella were all shy when coming to take possession from their centre-backs to start attacks. The end result? Sevilla were able to sit in and allow Inter long sequences of passes between their defenders while the likes of Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez became isolated figures further forward.

Sevilla, meanwhile, were decisive and progressive when they did get the ball, with Fernando and Jordan constantly dropping deep to take the ball from their defence while Banega remained high up the pitch to combine with his forward line and demonstrate his ability to pick the defensive lock.

Inter fans can be proud of their efforts this season but Friday demonstrated some clear flaws in the team that need work in pre-season, regardless of who is in the dugout.

So, is this the end for Conte?

While Conte maintained after the match there is no ill-feeling between him and Inter’s ownership, the 51-year-old did concede there were ‘situations’ from this season that he didn’t agree with.

“There is no rancour, from me nor the club,” he said. “It’s about points of view, some situations that I faced this year and didn’t like, with all due respect for everyone.

“We’ll take a few days off and then meet [with the president] with cool heads.

Antonio Conte - Romelu Lukaku - Inter

“Some important mistakes have been made at the planning stage, we can’t play both the Champions League and Serie A with such a small squad,” he said.

“I’m tired of saying the same things over and over again, perhaps they could come here over and say something. I hope that this will help them understand a few things.”

After Inter sealed second-place in Serie A, Conte directly accused club president Steven Zhang of being absent when required to back his playing staff.

“At the end of the season, I will say all the things I didn’t like and we’ll see from there,” said Conte. “We have to look at things calmly, but there was absolutely no protection for coach and players.”

Who could replace Conte at Inter?

Conte’s most recent have fuelled speculation but a suspicion he will leave Inter this summer was there anyway. Sky Sports Italy reported last month that Max Allegri is among the favourites to take his place. Allegri has been out of work since leaving Juventus last summer but considering he delivered 11 trophies in five years and guided the club to two Champions League finals, the 53-year-old  certainly has pedigree.

Tuttosport also linked another ‘free agent’ with the Inter dugout in July in former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino. Although he has no major trophies to his name, the Argentine’s work in turning Spurs into top-four regulars and Champions League finalists makes him one of the most in-demand coaches around.

Could Inter also lose Lautaro Martinez?

Alongside the managerial uncertainty, Inter also face the prospect of losing one of their most potent attackers, with Lautaro Martinez. Barcelona have long held an interest in signing the Argentine and, according to Marca, talks have now restarted between the two parties, while Manchester City also feature among the favourites for his signature, according to William Hill.

William Hill’s Lautaro Martinez transfer odds:

  1. Barcelona – 9/4
  2. Man City – 9/2
  3. Real Madrid – 10/1
  4. Liverpool – 12/1
  5. PSG – 12/1

18+ only, Be Gamble Aware.