Inter president Steven Zhang has put Antonio Conte’s departure down to ‘different views’ over the club’s transfer market strategy, as the cash-strapped owners look to reduce the wage bill over the coming months.
The Italian coach delivered the Nerazzurri’s first league title in 11 years in May, but walked away from Milano only days later, after learning that he may have been forced to sell a key star and cut high earners’ salaries from the books.
And in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, chairman Zhang attributed the split to sharing ‘different views’, but insisted that his refusal to bend to Conte’s will was for the ‘solidity of the club’.
“From the first moment we took over Inter we thought that Conte would be the best coach for our project. Two years ago we finally managed to bring him to the Nerazzurri.
“I was and remain convinced that Conte is a winning coach: this is the reason that led us to invest so much in him and in the team in the last two years.
“Last summer the pandemic had greatly affected our revenues but we continued with him, focusing on the season convinced that we could win. The decision was right, but now the bill brought by the pandemic is such that we cannot fail to review the situation by looking for savings that lead to a future budget balance.
“We must reduce costs and control risks. This obviously also influences the transfer market strategy. Our different views on the situation led to the separation.
“What wasn’t fundamental for him, was for the club, and vice-versa. Conte is a top coach, but as president I have to think about the solidity of the club.”
Inter have since appointed former SS Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi, and the Italian will be tasked with defending the Serie A league title, even with a potentially reduced number of riches in comparison to the previous year.
Conte, meanwhile, has held talks to become the new Tottenham Hotspur boss, but he is now far away from agreeing a deal, after hitting some stumbling blocks in negotiations with chairman Daniel Levy.