Tuesday July 9 2019
Inter hard-line stance is risky

Football Italia Chief Correspondent Richard Hall appreciates Inter’s new hard-line disciplinary stance, but it could backfire on Antonio Conte.

Antonio Conte and Beppe Marotta were united, they were clear and what is more they delivered a message. Hard work and discipline were the most important values in this new regime, winning comes second. For the likes of Mauro Icardi and Radja Nainggolan, there was no mincing of words, they were, in no uncertain terms, up for sale. This hard-line approach may seem radical, and it is, especially for Inter. There are reasons behind it, but is it a decision that could come back to haunt them?

Conte said he completely backed a decision already made by the club that both players should move on. In what at times seemed like a kangaroo court, the narrative before and after the question on these players seemed to be focused on building up to it and explaining it away. The references to Samuel Eto’o and his ability to sacrifice himself for the team in the past with implications Ivan Perisic should follow suit, these characteristics are wanted by the ‘New Inter’, there is no place for men who are self-serving here.

Self-serving is certainly an accusation that can be thrown at both Icardi and Nainggolan. One, as the whole of Europe knows, has negotiated his contract through the means of Instagram (you can’t see Conte replying on Insta-stories, can you?) whilst Nainggolan has been unprofessional when it has come to his lifestyle choices and his application. Therefore, it’s simple isn’t it? Sell them both and reinvest? Perhaps, but maybe it’s not that straightforward.

Both players offer up a different conundrum. With Nainggolan it is perhaps simpler. The Belgian has not made an impact since arriving from Roma. The deal that saw Inter hand over £33m, paying £21m and including defender Davide Santon and midfielder Nicolò Zaniolo, has gone down in history as a terrible move. The midfielder, who didn’t want to leave Roma, now has to be farmed back out to potential suitors. With his professionalism being questioned due to his antics, who will spend £30m on a 31-year old who has had a poor season? It is true that Inter could use him as a transfer makeweight, but ultimately, they will make a loss on a player who won’t be to too hard to replace.

As for Mauro, what do you do about Mauro? Inter have made up their mind that he is out and the fanbase seem to agree. Why shouldn’t they? Last season was a car-crash. Bad PR, poor negotiations and a lack of respect for the club and the captaincy have seen him now reaping just what he and his agent/wife have sown. The problem here however, is where does he go and how much for? With reports that Manchester United are not interested in him, that leaves Juventus, Napoli and Atletico Madrid.

Despite what Inter think of him, his goal scoring record was phenomenal. The 26-year-old has scored 111 times in 188 games for the Nerazzurri and still has many years left in him. With Conte and Marotta talking of bridging the gap to Juventus and Napoli, it seems utter madness that they would listen to anyone who wants to negotiate with them. Napoli for one would be monumentally strengthened by his arrival, to the point where you could argue that Carlo Ancelotti could potentially challenge Juventus next term with that sort of firepower.

With the length of time left on his contract, could Inter replace those goals with the reported £60m fee they would get? It is a dilemma, as whilst all the arguments that he is bad for the dressing room may well be correct, one cannot argue that he has been invaluable for Inter in recent seasons and those goals will be hard to replace. Selling him to a direct rival seems suicidal. If he has to go, then surely it would be preferable for him to be pushed towards Spain?

Inter have made their choices and there is certainly logic behind them. Should they be able to move both players out quickly, then this will help with deals for Nicolò Barella and Romelu Lukaku. If Icardi can be pushed towards Spain, despite his desire to stay in Italy, then they will have succeeded in their task, but the warning signs are that this is less probable. Should Icardi end up running out in Naples or Turin next term, then Inter’s hardline approach may just have seen the opposition move even further on.

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Have your say...
It makes perfect sense given the position that Inter are in at the moment and where they want to be. However, I feel that the comments people are making don't really gel with the reality of what Inter can and, likely, are aiming for this season. It's a transition year - surely neither Conte nor the rest of the Inter leadership expect them to challenge Juve this coming season for the scudetto. This is more an effort to stabilize the team and work back towards being contenders rather than win it.
on the 11th July, 2019 at 5:40pm
@I MISS MARCO BRANCA dude get a life, I remember seeing you 5 years ago saying the same things.
on the 11th July, 2019 at 4:38pm
Icardi scenario was worsened by Spalletti last year. That said, it is simply too many missteps irrespective of how many goals he scores. Going to Juve will make little difference to their team. Clinical as he is, they're already strongest in attack and he doesn't work for the team. He represents a far larger gain to Napoli. To Inter, his goals can be replaced with a greater team balance & other strong players, and improved team culture. He is not to Inter what Totti is to Roma. Not even close.
on the 10th July, 2019 at 7:33pm
Yes, he has scored many but many were from pk and tap ins and no one talks about the easy chances he misses. It is incredible some of the chances he misses when he is front of goal with no one to beat.
on the 10th July, 2019 at 4:46pm
Take away his 21 goals scored from the penalty spot and Icardi has scored 90 goals in 188 games for Inter. And how many of those were a result of his teammates feeding him the ball into the box? And more importantly, what has Inter won in the last six years relying soley on one player? ... TIme to turn the page and begin a new chapter.
on the 10th July, 2019 at 2:10pm
This is a very stupid line indeed. Wrong start.
on the 10th July, 2019 at 1:20pm
Well, I believe it was a tough call to sell Icardi at half the price considering his goal scoring record. But here the issue is current inter management; mainly Morrata and Conte are huge believers of discipline and authority to run the affairs, so its best approach to get rid of those who are troublemakers.
on the 10th July, 2019 at 12:39pm
Icardi won't end up in Spain.

The only possible option is Altetico, and they have just signed Joao Felix and Morata for a combined 176 million euros.
on the 10th July, 2019 at 10:29am
Meanwhile, Juve somehow know how to tame bad boys. Is it coz they also have the core of disciplined Italian players with large personalities like Buffon who can just by being present in the dressing room put Icardi in check? Maybe that is why Buffon has been called back. If Juve get De Ligt and Icardi then pogba gotten in part exchange with Dybala, then bernadeschi can play in hole behind Icardi and CR7 in a 4-3-1-2.
on the 10th July, 2019 at 5:05am
While I do not support what Icardi who is led around by his wife Wanda Nara has done to inter's dressing room, Neymar PSG drama etc, I think that clubs had it coming. Clubs mistreat players who had served them loyally for years! Look at De Rossi and Totti treatment after they declined higher salaries and bigger clubs while at their prime. Clubs are getting a disease of their own medicine.
on the 10th July, 2019 at 4:56am
Too much stock is always placed in 1 player on the field when there are 11. Doesn't matter if Icardi is playing if your midfield and defense are weak. For Argentina he has been a nobody. Just like Messi is average when playing for Argentina but a superstar under Barcelona because the team made him, not vice versa. I understand the thinking behind Inter's decision. The team is always more important. Lautaro has been impressive for both club and country, has the right attitude and is the future.
on the 10th July, 2019 at 1:38am
At least now with war, the referee will actually have to wave offside when we play against Juventus. In the old days, the linesmen always gave Juve an inch or two extra.
on the 9th July, 2019 at 10:12pm
@ Ziga: Kuzmanovic, Mvilla, Jonathan, Campagnaro...ahh the memories! That's why I MISS MARCO BRANCA ! but hey, it could be worse, it could be Ausilio spending 24 mill + 40mill rated Zaniolo and Santon for Nainggolan.....with that money they could have bought Lukaku for Conte instead they would rather lose their shirt and dump him at a loss and same goes for Icardi !
on the 9th July, 2019 at 6:25pm
The saga at Inter can only benefit Juventus and Napoli. Icardi will be well tamed at Juventus by a board that has delt with more controversial players in the immediate past. If Icardi end up at Juventus, then the season is already over in Italy before it start in August.
on the 9th July, 2019 at 5:59pm
Worth the risk. I am tired of players complaining and not getting along and playing for the team. A "captain" that looks for a bigger contract every other season negotiating through social media. Get rid of these players, even if takes a a couple of seasons will benefit Inter in the long run.
on the 9th July, 2019 at 4:55pm
At the end of the day his drama and cancer attitude outweighs the goal scoring he produces. Yes we will lack the goal scoring up front however I believe Laturo will make up some of the scoring. Inter will be more balanced in attacking this year with Sensi and Barella.
on the 9th July, 2019 at 4:43pm
Why is anyone surprised by this? Lets not forget that Conte took Pelle and Eder to 2016 Euros over other options. He prefers discipline and hard work to pure talent every time. I think he likes to be the biggest ego in the dressing room. Hopefully he is the right coach to help turn Inter around, but time will tell how the project works out.

But the rumors that Juve want Icardi truly baffle me.
on the 9th July, 2019 at 3:16pm

First, learn to copy+paste. My name is literally there, all you had to do is paste it. Is this concept too complicated for you? Then you should not be huffing so much paste.

And as for your reasoning: it works both ways. Every player has a shelf life, except exceptional players like Del Piero or Maldini.

It will be interesting to see how Barca treats Messi, when Messi's legs are gone and he doesn't manage to score/save Barca from humiliation so often.
on the 9th July, 2019 at 1:35pm
For me, Icardi's been the best finisher in Italy for years. But (apparently) refusing to play Frankfurt when they had no fit forwards was the last straw

His wife seems to be nothing but trouble too, a typical modern selfish type

But if settled, Icardi could run amok at Napoli or Juve, easily getting 30+ goals/season. A ZIGA said, look at the amount of goals he got for Inter with dreadful service

I said last summer Nainggolan was a mistake at his age, and he didn't do much Time for both to go
on the 9th July, 2019 at 12:25pm
Icardi is clinical, but when your behaviour makes your team mates refuse to play with you and risks your season objectives, suddenly the goals aren’t so valuable. Goal scorers come and go. But it only takes one bad player to destroy a club and dressing room in a very short amount of time. Lautaro performed far better than Icardi in his first season in Europe. He’s even scored more goals than Icardi for Argentina despite less games.. Lautaro is Inter and Argentina’s future
on the 9th July, 2019 at 12:02pm
The mystery is whether Icardi has or hasn't got a knee injury. If he still has then it will be a problem passing his medical.
on the 9th July, 2019 at 11:21am
I could not agree with you more. Ditching Icardi, for 10million/year Lukaku or 33 yaars Dzeko is something I don't see clearly. Nobody will ever score more consistant than him, especialy not Lautaro. Let's not forget Icardi was seria A top scorer with support of the likes of Kuzmanovic, Mvilla, Jonathan, Campagnaro,... I can't imagine what he is capable of with Ronaldo, Pjanic, Rabiot or maybe even Pogba behind him...
on the 9th July, 2019 at 10:54am

since The club can ditch everyone n everytime, like Higuain case...the will be no longer "respect the club" worth as before
on the 9th July, 2019 at 9:28am
But Icardi's goals won Inter nothing. Goals are only valuable if they bring trophies, but, trophies can be won with few goals and good defense--Conte, of all coaches, knows this. Icardi is more trouble than he's worth.
on the 9th July, 2019 at 8:54am
What you fail to realize is that any team getting Icardi gets all the drama and frankly the goal scoring is not worth that drama in any way whatsoever. He is and always will be a selfish cancer in any dressing room. He cannot change his stripes nor his agent/wife's stripes. They are awful people and it shows on a daily basis. Selling him at a monetary loss will be an organizational gain I short time.
on the 9th July, 2019 at 6:37am
This is what modern football has become... No respect for history/club's name, only bigger contracts/more money, holding clubs hostage by using the media as a tool, and more drama off the field than in a decade-old soap opera.

In this case, I unequivocally support the cockeyed director and former Juve coach... Icardi and Nainggolan are basically the cankerous boils on the face of football. They need to be dealt with accordingly.

Make football "football" again!
on the 9th July, 2019 at 5:47am
Inter coming out publicly to say Icardi and Naingollan are on the market shows how keen they are to clean up the squad and remove the drama. Look at teams like Man U with Pogba, PSG with Neymar. Clearly has an impact on performance. Inter are looking to the future and there will be a huge improvement on last year with these 2 players gone!
on the 9th July, 2019 at 4:03am
Icardi is a no brainer, I hope he goes to Juventus. Inter know first hand how important his goals can be. If they are willing to kick him out of the squad for half the price they could get by keeping him and playing happy family for another year, he is obviously poison to the dressing room. His wife makes ridiculous statements regularly that obviously upset his team mates. Has been confirmed that she is on tv again next season too! Lautaro is the future anyways!!
on the 9th July, 2019 at 4:01am
Radja is a confusing one - he had a lot of injuries last year, but he also scored some important goals and on more than 1 occasion was the best on the field. If he can put injuries behind him and get a solid run, I am sure he would do great under conte. With Barella and Brozovic, this is one imposing midfield trio. If we are selling him for professionalism issues, we knew the issues when we bought him, why the sudden change of heart? He may still party, but not as much as he used to!
on the 9th July, 2019 at 3:56am
Radja is a confusing one - he had a lot of injuries last year, but he also scored some important goals and on more than 1 occasion was the best on the field. If he can put injuries behind him and get a solid run, I am sure he would do great under conte. With Barella and Brozovic, this is one imposing midfield trio. If we are selling him for professionalism issues, we knew the issues when we bought him, why the sudden change of heart? He may still party, but not as much as he used to!
on the 9th July, 2019 at 3:56am

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