Ever since becoming Inter manager, Antonio Conte has unapologetically admired Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku. Dating back to his time at Chelsea, he has been a fan of the Belgian striker.
After the club took a strong stance on former captain Mauro Icardi, Lukaku has been Conte’s preferred choice to replace the polarizing Argentine.
After being linked with Inter for over a month and a half, it seems as though Lukaku will head over to Turin to join Juventus in a swap deal which sends Lukaku + cash for Paolo Dybala. A deal that has split the fanbase of both clubs is yet to become official, however, it is increasingly likely that it goes through. The only thing remaining is the green light from Pauolo Dybala.
In a press conference ahead of the pre-season match in Singapore against Manchester United in International Champions Cup, Antonio Conte criticized management for lack of activity in the transfer market and not having first-team strikers in training.
“I can’t deny we’re behind schedule with regards to the plans we’d made, so we need to get a move on. I have the same vision as the club and I’m confident, although I expected us to be further ahead at this point.”
This wasn’t the first time Conte criticized the management of his club, he’s had a tricky relationship with the management everywhere he’s been. At Juventus, he resigned after the club failed to deliver his requested players saying “you can’t walk into a €100 restaurant with a €10 bill.”
At Chelsea, he notified Diego Costa over text message that he is no longer part of his plans after club management refused to sign players he requested, resulting in a 6 months long hiatus where Costa was frozen out of the team and eventually signed for Atletico Madrid in the January transfer window. That was one of the main reasons for Chelsea’s poor season which ultimately led to club parting ways with Conte.
Conte is will be extremely disappointed and upset after losing Lukaku to none other than Inter’s main rivals Juventus. Considering how Beppe Marotta had to repeatedly do damage control last season, this year one of the main targets for management has been to establish rules and expectations from everyone to avoid “Pazza Inter” moments. To carry that forward in this situation as well, here are some things management must do to ensure harmony and success in Inter camp upcoming year.
The key in this situation is to ensure a clear line of communication with Conte. He has every right to be upset considering signing Lukaku was one of his main asks from the club after taking over and the club did not follow through.
However, Marotta must be proactive in staying in constant touch with Conte to assure him club is doing everything they can to provide him the team he has requested. Don’t wait for him to have an outburst in a press conference to schedule a meeting, going by past experiences it’s likely he will criticize the club.
Jump out ahead of the situation and give him assurances to ensure he is in the loop and is onboard. Another outburst from the manager before the season starts is not the kind of image the club wants going forward.
Sign Some Strikers Now
Once Conte’s temper is under control, Marotta and Ausilio must involve Conte to come up with alternate strikers who can meet Conte’s expectations. There is no time to waste. With the season starting in less than a month, Conte will need time to integrate new strikers into the team.
Inter has to move quickly and swiftly to complete the signings for Lukaku’s and/or Dzeko’s alternatives as soon as possible. Delayed integration into the team will mean the team is not ready to take on Lecce on match day one of 2019/20 Serie A season.
Sell Unwanted Players
If sales must be made to sign players, Marotta and Ausilio have their work cut out for them. With a month of the transfer window already gone, outgoing players who are not part of Conte’s plans must be sold so adequate replacements are brought in with enough time for Conte to have them ready to play on August 25th at San Siro against Lecce.
Once the season ended club’s intentions have been clear on Joao Mario, Radja Nainggolan, Mauro Icardi, Borja Valero and Dalbert.
However, a month into the transfer window, all of them are still on the roster. In the years past, one of the biggest criticism of Ausilio has been his inability to sell players. Having unmotivated players on the team who have one foot out the door is a going to ensure inconsistencies in our form once the season starts remain even under a proven winner like Antonio Conte. Find some takers and move the players even if it’s on a season-long dry loan!
Maintain Stance Regarding Icardi
After losing out on a prime target such as Lukaku, and with a lack of young available strikers in their prime, can lead to second-guessing the stance on Icardi. Considering all the damaging decisions and statements Icardi’s camp made last year, the club was forced into taking a hard line stance as a matter of principle and force him out of the club.
A move nobody could’ve imagined the same time last year. Going from scoring his first goal in Champions League as a captain against finalists Spurs, to his meteoric fall to being unwanted by all but two Serie A clubs has been unfathomable to point where segments of Inter fan base are still divided.
Under no circumstances should he be allowed back on the team. The club is well beyond that point because this was made out to be a matter of principle and the team wanted to set an example for other players to follow. The team comes before any individual player.
The club comes first, before all else. By allowing him back on the team, regardless of the terms and conditions, sets the wrong message to the locker room and outside the club it puts the team in an awkward and embarrassing situation. Thank you for everything you’ve done for the club Mauro, but it’s time to move on.
There is plenty of time left in the transfer window to complete the team for Inter and Conte to have a successful season. This isn’t the first-time club is unable to sign a preferred target and it won’t be the last. We all remember the never-ending Lavezzi and Lamela rumors every transfer window, and in recent years it’s been Patrick Schick, Paulo Dybala, Radja Nainggolan when he was at Cagliari and many more. Every Nerazzurri fan has a list of players who we targeted but the club never managed to sign.
Lukaku is a fantastic striker and since he’s been Conte’s preferred choice it made sense to target him.
However, the asking price was rather high from Manchester United. The money saved by not making the deal can go into filling multiple key roles on the team.
Let’s not jump to conclusions and allow Marotta and Ausilio to plan and adapt to the changing market and see where we land at the start of the season.
Is this the right approach? What else must Inter do from here on to prepare for the upcoming season?
Let us know in the comment below.