Saturday August 19 2017
Spalletti: 'Perisic an Inter leader'

Luciano Spalletti reiterated the importance of “belonging” to Inter and promised Manchester United target Ivan Perisic is “a leader.”

The match with Fiorentina kicks off on Sunday at 19.45 UK time (18.45 GMT), click here for a match preview.

“Football is back and that is something that brings strong sensations to everyone, fans and even opponents,” said the Coach in his Press conference.

“I asked the players to love these club colours, to have a sense of belonging, pride for our past and history. We need all of these elements.

“We had 40 days to work and get to know each other, beginning a journey that will take us I know not where, but we must travel it with a sense of belonging and pride. We must bring the message of the fans who filled the stadiums in friendlies, met us at the airport in China and stood outside the hotel to salute us.

“Over the last few days, the papers have said I was the most important new buy of the side, but the torch should be shone on the players, as they are the most important element. We are dealing with great players and great men.

“We might run into some difficulties and lose some games, as all teams will, but our opponents must spit blood to beat us and even that might not be enough for them. Our players want to send a clear and unequivocal message.

“San Siro must be for us and our fans a sporting meeting of emotions. We love each other madly and there is no possibility of betrayal. This is what we must show.”

In the Corriere dello Sport this morning, Spalletti said this season’s target must be a top four finish, so he was asked again for his aims.

“I don’t like answering these questions, because you can set up a phenomenon and then be treated as a failure. The important thing now is to do things responsibly, giving our best and going even beyond those limitations.

“It’s the players who need to be the protagonists and the focus. I want you to leave me in the background. Having met them, I must say they have quality. Some younger players do lose their way when things go wrong, which is precisely why we need that light shone on them, so they believe in themselves and keep going.

“People talked to me about Inter having a fragile squad, which was incapable of fighting for a result, but that is not what I saw. Our players can force our opponents into giving everything they’ve got.”

Perisic has been at the centre of a Manchester United bidding frenzy, but instead looks set to sign a new contract with Inter.

“Since the start, the club spoke with Ivan, as did I, he came and told us some things, because you need specific characteristics to stay here. We must all be ready to listen to how everyone else sees things.

“Perisic is a great player, in the vein of Giacinto Facchetti, Javier Zanetti and Marco Materazzi, a leader who gives something more than an individual usually does. After this initial discussion, I never had any more signals of a departure, in training or outside of it.

“Ivan is someone who has his own training schedule after the session is finished, working in the gym, and is one of the most professional players I’ve met. He does something that only those who have a real sentiment for the club will do, because he never holds back and works so hard for the team.

“Perisic is not just in the Inter project, he is one of those we need to follow and who will set the path we are moving towards.

“Mauro Icardi is doing well, but needs a few more days of training and some more playing time. If he doesn’t manage to maintain his standards for 95 minutes, we’ll balance it out.”