Alessandro Bastoni admits he didn’t think he was ready to play for Inter when Antonio Conte arrived at the club.
Conte was appointed as the Nerazzurri’s head coach in 2019, the same summer in which Bastoni returned to Inter from a season-long loan at Parma.
The 21-year-old was immediately thrown into Conte’s three-man defence and has since developed into one of Europe’s most promising centre-backs.
“When I arrived here I didn’t think I’d be good enough straightaway for such a great squad,” Bastoni revealed in an interview with Sport Mediaset.
“The coach gave me confidence though and I managed to make the most of the opportunity he gave me.
“I’ve improved a lot, which is also thanks to my teammates.”
Inter are closing in on their first Serie A title since way back in 2010, with Conte’s side now 11 points clear of AC Milan in second.
The Nerazzurri will look to take another step towards the Scudetto when they travel to play Napoli on Sunday, but Bastoni insists nobody at Appiano Gentile is getting carried away by the league table.
“We’re certainly on a good run of form with 11 straight wins,” he admitted.
“We’re getting closer (to the Scudetto), but we’ll have to keep fighting every weekend until it’s mathematically certain.
“We need to stay focused like we always have done; our slogan at Inter is to keep your head down and work hard.
“It’s characterised our journey so far and we want to keep it going.
“All of our games are difficult, as you’ve seen from our one-goal victories recently; everyone wants to make a good impression when they face us.
“Napoli are fighting to qualify for the UEFA Champions League and so it’ll certainly be a good match.”
Bastoni has formed one of Inter’s greatest defensive line-ups in recent history this season, alongside Milan Skriniar and Stefan de Vrij.
Asked for the secret behind the trio’s success, the Italy international explained: “We complete each other, and our understanding off the pitch is important as well.
“We get along very well.”
Bastoni also revealed Inter’s players were eager to give their supporters something to cheer about while the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
“This is a strange season because of the pandemic, so giving ourselves and the fans something to celebrate is our number one target,” he concluded.