Sunday May 14 2017
Ausilio on Pioli, Conte and Pepe

Inter director Piero Ausilio reveals they fired Stefano Pioli to shake up the players and “it wasn’t fair to leave him hanging,” but denies a deal for Real Madrid defender Pepe.

Inter-Sassuolo kicks off at 11.30 UK time (10.30 GMT), click here for the line-ups and Liveblog.

Caretaker manager Stefano Vecchi is taking over for the last three rounds of the campaign after Pioli’s shock dismissal on Tuesday evening.

“When you take an extreme course of action like firing a Coach, it’s a last desperate way of proving to the players that it’s up to them now,” Ausilio told Mediaset Premium.

“These things happen in football. I remain convinced, even after bad results, that this is a squad of quality. It has problems, above all in terms of character.”

The race is on to find a replacement and Inter made no secret of Chelsea boss Antonio Conte as their first choice.

“I don’t know how we could convince Conte, or anyone, really. We know there are great Coaches out there and most of them are under contract.

“We have some ideas, which I will not reveal, but the disadvantage of our place in the table is actually an advantage, because it gives us time to build and get our situation together.

“It was difficult to fire Pioli, a good man who always gave 110 per cent for Inter. It probably wasn’t even fair to Pioli to leave him hanging for three weeks amid speculation when the decision had already been made to change. I want to make it clear the decision was made recently, not three months ago.

“It was also out of respect for Pioli, giving him the time to find a new situation for himself.”

This week Inter also appointed ex-Roma director of sport Walter Sabatini as a technical co-ordinator for the Suning Group sporting franchises, including Jiangsu Suning.

“This is not news to me, I’ve known about Sabatini’s role for over a month. I knew about it before I signed the new contract.

“Considering they were thinking about this new role, I told Inter that they could change my position if they wished to, but the club assured me that I remain the Inter director of sport.

“I know Sabatini, we are friends, we are colleagues, we are in communication and we can work together for Inter. I never offered to resign, that is not true. I simply told the club that if they wanted to change my role, that was entirely up to them, but I signed the contract two days later.”

There are multiple reports in Italy and Spain that Real Madrid defender Pepe has agreed to join Inter when his current contract expires in June.

“There is all this talk of contracts and signing, but there’s absolutely nothing,” insisted Ausilio.

“Discussing players now seems illogical when Inter have not yet chosen a Coach to lead the squad next season, so we have to restructure the club first, find the right tactician and all the rest.

“If I had to tell you every player we’ve been proposed lately, we’d have 150 in the squad. Pepe was suggested to us, we are considering the overall situation. Let’s not forget the age that Andrea Pirlo was when he moved to Juventus and people said he was finished.

“I want to make considerations in a vague sense rather than specifically about Pepe, because there is absolutely no deal, and say that players of experience, character and grit are always valuable.”

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