Inter Milan President Steven Zhang has confirmed that Nerazzurri owners Suning plan to try and refinance the loan they took on from Suning.
Speaking to Milan-based newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport in an interview published in today’s print edition, via FCInterNews, the Nerazzurri President also gave his thoughts on a number of players at the club including Milan Skriniar.
Suning’s future at Inter is currently cast in doubt by their and the club’s debt situation.
In May of 2021, Suning took on a loan from US-based fund Oaktree Capital, worth €275 million. With interest, it will cost the Nerazzurri owners €350 million to repay that loan when it comes due next May.
Should the Inter owners be unable to do so, they’d risk having control of the club pass into the hands of Oaktree.
There has been no shortage of rumours that the current Inter owners could have to sell the club.
However, one path forward for the current owners would be to refinance the loan. And, according to Zhang, that is exactly what they plan to do.
Steven Zhang: Suning Want To Refinance Oaktree Loan
Asked about Oaktree, the Inter President said that “It’s a great fund that’s managed by people who are very professional.”
“We intend to renegotiate the loan,” he made clear. “We’ll work together and find a solution for refinancing.”
He assured the fans that “As long as I’m here, we’ll have a stable and competitive Inter.”
Of the main shirt sponsor situation, Zhang said that “We have three or four major candidates.”
“I still can’t say which one we will choose,” he added. “We want a stable and suitable brand for Inter.”
Inter Milan President Opens Up On Milan Skriniar Departure
Zhang was asked about the imminent departure of defender Milan Skriniar.
The 28-year-old will leave and join Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer when his contract expires at the end of this month. This comes after Inter had rejected offers of reportedly at least €50 million last summer.
“Skriniar has always been one of my favourite players,” thew Nerazzurri President said.
“We did everything to have the best team to win.”
“But I’ll answer this question after the final,” he went on.
Zhang emphasized that “Before the match against City, I don’t think it’s right to talk about individuals players.”
“The club, the team, and the fans are now all one single entity, all focused on tomorrow’s match.”
Of being in the Champions League final, Zhang said that “To be honest, I’d only dreamed of it.”
“And I thought that, looking at the moment in football and the differences between certain leagues, it would be difficult to get this far.”
Zhang said that “Inter completely absorbs me.”
“I experience this club with enormous intensity, but I almost never get involved in the technical or tactical aspects concerning the team.”
“I don’t even talk about it with Inzaghi,” Zhang admitted, “whose every choice I respect.”
“As President, I hate anyone who wants to teach me how to run my own club,” the President said. “And so I don’t make the same mistake with other people’s roles.”
Romelu Lukaku Only Player Who Always Believed In UCL Final
Of reaching the Champions League final, Zhang confirmed something he’d said earlier – that Romelu Lukaku was the one player who always thought it was possible.
“I smiled at him, but I thought ‘He’s crazy!'” Zhang admitted looking back to Lukaku’s prediction.
“And then it turns out he was right!”
Pressed on whether Lukaku will stay next season, the Inter President was effusive. “No questions about the players, please,” he said.
Zhang: Conte & Inzaghi Couldn’t Be More Difficult Coaches
The Inter President observed of the last two coaches that “If Conte was the most ‘difficult’, Simone is the simplest.”
“He has great man-management skills and instills the team with incredible calm,” he said of Inzaghi.
“When I see him before matches, I’m more tense than he is,” Zhang went on. “Inzaghi came as a gift for me.”
“And he’s the right man for the Champions League final,” the Nerazzurri President said of the coach.
“People often wonder who the best or most brilliant coach is,” Zhang observed. “I think these are the wrong questions.”
‘Each club has a different story, the coach’s job depends on the stage the club is in going through,” he added. “From the players available, many other things as well. Football is not an exact science.”
Asked if he’s like to hire Pep Guardiola if he could, Zhang replied “He’s a great coach capable of winning wherever he’s gone.”
“It would certainly be a pleasure to work with him,” he said of the Man City coach. “But I prefer to choose coaches with Serie A experience.”
Zhang Responds To His Critics
Next, it was pointed out that before the season, before Francescoc Acerbi was signed, there was a “Zhang Out” banner hung at the Nerazzurri’s headquarters.
The Inter President was asked if reaching the Champions League final feels like “revenge” against his critics.
“No,” he replied. “First of all, it must be said that the protesters were really a very small group.”
“And then, football, like life, has ups and downs,” he remarked. “There are phases with problems, and phases of joy.”
“It’s part of the game.”
Zhang said that “The work of a President or a CEO is similar to that of a coach. Often one is left on their own, and that must be accepted.”
Asked if he has any motivational speeches planned for the team ahead of tomorrow’s final against City, Zhang said that “There’s no need.”
“The results of the last month have helped to increase the sense of conviction and energy,” he added.
Zhang stressed that “Everyone at Inter is focused on this event. We want to enjoy it to the fullest.”
Inter Milan President Zhang: “Deeply Respect” Man City
Of tomorrow’s final opponents City, Zhang said that “I deeply respect City. They’re a magnificent team.”
“But we have the quality to go up against them,” he added.
“In recent years, the higher our opponents have set the bar, the better we’ve reacted,” he noted.
“Inter always come up against the strongest teams,” Zhang stressed. “It’s against some of the less competitive teams who we’ve sometimes dropped points along the way.”
Of the team’s stuttering form in Serie A this season, the Inter President said that “It was difficult to keep concentration high in all competitions.”
“Tiredness set in, more mental than physical,” he reflected.
“But we have a final to play, let’s just think about this now.”
New Stadium Delays Similar To TV Rights Problem
Zhang was then asked to weigh in on the new stadium situation.
Inter and AC Milan have attempted to build a new stadium in the situation to modernize their infrastructure and increase revenues.
However, the two clubs have been met with constant bureaucratic delays, which show no sign of abating.
“It’s the same problem as with television rights,” the Nerazzurri President said.
“There’s difficulty in accepting new things and changing pace,” he remarked.
“Inter and Milan are two competing clubs, but with the same goal of growth.”
“A shared stadium would guarantee this more than two separate venues would,” he said of the idea of building together with the Rossoneri to replace the San Siro. In recent months, it has looked more and more probable that the clubs could instead go their separate ways.
“That’s always been Inter’s idea,” he stressed.
“Milan, on the other hand, have changed ownership four times and have had as many diffferent ideas.”
Then, asked if Inter could stay at the San Siro if Milan decide to build on their own, Zhang was clear. “No. Our priority is to build a new stadium. With or without Milan.”
Zhang Looks Back On Super League Failure
Zhang was also asked about the failed Super League project, of which Inter were a part.
“The Super League didn’t have the right format,” he commented. “But it was an attempt to innovate and change.”
“This was especially useful for Italian clubs, who have been falling behind the other teams,” Zhang said.
“But we didn’t want to get into conflict with UEFA.”
“And the Champions League remains the best tournament that’s possible today,” he added.
Finally, Zhang was asked about the prospect of adding another Champions League to Inter’s trophy cabinet.
“I’ve thought about what winning the Champions League would be like many times in my head,” the Inter President said. “But even dreaming of winning it seemed impossible…”
“Now that we’re in the final, however, all of us in the club have an incredible desire to go for it.”
“And we’re united,” Zhang made clear. “As Inzaghi said – we’re not afraid, there’s just a sense of great excitement at playing in this match. We believe in it.”