Antonio Conte expects a “tough” trip to Radja Nainggolan’s Cagliari, but tells litigious Mauro Icardi that Inter “did everything the right way.”
It kicks off on Sunday at 19.45 UK time (18.45 GMT), click here for a match preview.
“Cagliari is a tough place to play, they are a very good team and will certainly be eager to make up for their slip-up against Brescia. We’ll have to be very wary and prepared to play a difficult game,” said the Coach in his Press conference.
The Nerazzurri got off to an ideal start, beating Lecce 4-0 with new buy Romelu Lukaku on target, but Alexis Sanchez has now joined from Manchester United too.
“Sanchez arrives with enthusiasm and the desire to work hard. He will come with us to Cagliari. He is very good at finishing and providing assists, even if he struggled at Manchester United.
“We must continue working hard, as we had a good start, but I told the lads there are two areas where we really need to improve, because we are building our future right now.”
This is a reunion for ex-Cagliari midfielder Nicolò Barella and Inter loaner Radja Nainggolan, who effectively swapped places this summer.
“Nicolò is working, getting into our ideas of football, but everyone at Inter knows they are in competition for places. After the break for international duty, the Champions League begins and we’ll need everyone. It is important to have a solid core of Italian players.
“We have decided together that Cristiano Biraghi needs to get back to full fitness. Diego Godin will be on the bench and we’ll see for Stefan de Vrij.
“As for Radja, I have great respect for him, he’s a very good player and I wanted him at Chelsea in my first season there. You know full well that other decisions were made, but I will say hello tomorrow with great pleasure.”
Another player who was excluded from Inter plans was Icardi, who is currently suing the club for ‘discrimination’ in locking him out of tactical training sessions.
“We did everything the right way,” insisted Conte. “People have been talking about this for eight months and I don’t want to get into it. We must be totally concentrated on this season and its protagonists, but I see instead that others remain the protagonists rather than those who are playing.
“We did what we had to do in the right way and we will continue like that. I understand that for some of you it is very important to build on certain situations, but we must be focused on what happens on the field and that is what we are doing.”
There are reports today that Matteo Politano could join Fiorentina for €30m plus bonuses, replaced by Eintracht Frankfurt forward Ante Rebic.
“This is the squad at our disposal, Beppe Marotta was pretty clear saying that Inter’s transfer activity is closed. Of course, if someone were to leave, they’d have to be replaced. Matteo knows I appreciate him and consider him an important player.
“The important thing is to have a targeted transfer campaign, because at other clubs you see them sign players who are not suited to the ideas of the Coach. That means not being clear. At Inter, we were very clear from the start on what we wanted and didn’t get side-tracked by big names or enthusiasm. A player must only arrive if he is useful to the cause.
“Lautaro Martinez can play as a centre-forward or a second striker. He is only 22 years old and can certainly improve, it’s up to him to work hard and continue these efforts.”