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What next for Antonio Conte & Inter as they prepare to part ways

Antonio Conte and Inter appear ready to part ways…

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what next for antonio conte inter as they prepare to part ways
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2021 was supposed to be the start of a revolution. It was the end of Juventus’ dynasty, and the beginning of a brand new era in calcio.

But no sooner had it begun than it threatened to all come tumbling down. The curtain had not even fallen on Inter’s 2020/21 title-winning season when Antonio Conte met with the Nerazzurri’s owner Steven Zhang to discuss preparations for next year.

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Unfortunately for the Italian coach, his plans were very different to those of his employers.

Conte saw the upcoming summer as a chance to strengthen Inter’s grip on Italian football and build upon their success. Zhang, however, came bearing bad news. The chairman derailed all of his coach’s ambitions by giving him a peek behind the financial curtain – and it was not pretty.

The coach was informed that for Inter to financially survive the summer, they’d have to sell €100m of players while slashing their wage bill by 20%. That’s because Suning, Zhang’s investment group which owns Inter, is in dire straits. The entrepreneur took out a €275m loan in earlier in May to keep himself afloat, but the water levels are ever-rising around him.

Not quite the summer strengthening plan Conte had in mind. And with that, major doubts surfaced. Anyone who knows the ex-Chelsea boss knows that any conversation of such nature would have set alarm bells ringing in his head, and that usually spells the end of his stay in a job.

FBL-ITA-SERIEA-INTER-UDINESE
Celebration time | MIGUEL MEDINA/Getty Images

Zhang and the Conte were able to put their differences aside to celebrate the title on the following Saturday, watching the champions dismantle Udinese before lifting the trophy in front of 1,000 supporters.

And it seems as if they are both very understanding of the other’s particular position. Conte is aware that the global pandemic has put a major strain on club owners, and he would be foolish to see Zhang’s move as a betrayal or an attempt to cut his legs from under him.

Likewise, Zhang has endured enough conversations with Conte to know that he is a man with high standards and even higher demands, so he’d hold little hope of selling this unambitious and challenging project to the picky coach.

All of this has culminated in the news that Conte could leave Inter in the next 48 hours, sending Italian football into meltdown.

But where does this news leave both parties?

For Inter, this is undoubtedly the worst case scenario. The final weeks of the season demonstrated that Conte has finally managed to build a squad in his image, and the freedom and intensity with which his stars took to the field was a joy to watch.

This understanding didn’t click into place overnight, either. This is the result of two years of hard work, from Conte moulding his players into the specimens he desired, and his troops eventually bending to his will. Every player has improved and developed under the Italian, and they’ll be eternally grateful to him.

So Conte’s departure could tear the squad apart – before Zhang tears it apart himself. As stated, they need to generate €100m and cut the wage bill. Romelu Lukaku or Lautaro Martinez would be prime contenders to leave the club, halving their firepower in attack for the next campaign.

Romelu Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez
Brothers in attack | Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

The squad would be stripped as ruthlessly as possible, and they will struggle to fight on more than one front next campaign. Basically, the starting XI will lose at least one key face, the squad will be weakened significantly, and the man holding everything together will let go.

Chaos.

Inter, then, are probably not going to win the title next year it would appear. But will Conte be winning any titles? For starters, walking away from San Siro would do his reputation a world of good – in the long run, at least.

This way, he would avoid the classic arguments with owners, splitting the dressing room, falling out with key players and eventually packing his bags in a giant huff. Instead, he’d be the man who brought success to San Siro when no one else could. An attractive prospect.

Should he leave I Nerazzurri though, his choice of destinations is small, to say the least.

He could end up at Paris Saint-Germain if there is any Mauricio Pochettino movement, and hopeful voices continue to link his name to Tottenham Hotspur. Otherwise, there is Real Madrid – if Zinedine Zidane walks, he’d be a prime candidate for that role.

The only problem with a move to the Spanish capital is that another Italian is being lined up as the heir to Zizou’s throne. Massimiliano Allegri, Conte’s successor at Juventus, is the heavy favourite to take over from Zidane, meaning Conte would be out of work and with very little hope of gaining an elite level job.

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Jostling for the same job | AFP/Getty Images

Another role in the immediate future is not guaranteed then. One thing that is guaranteed, however, is that Conte will see his current job at Inter ending in only one way: failure to defend the title, poisonous press conferences and an unsavoury split.

As disappointing as it may be, perhaps going their separate ways is the best course of action. That way, Inter fans can reminisce over untainted memories of the man who brought Juventus’ monopoly to an end – if only for a year.

Source: 90 Mins

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