Antonio Conte celebrated wildly after Matteo Darmian managed to secure Inter a slender victory against Cagliari on Sunday. He knew that 13 points would win Inter the Scudetto: a tempting prospect as the domestic dominance of Juventus looks to have been broken.
However, it is not done yet, they still need to get this over the line, but then what? How good could this Inter side be? Could this be a case of a one time league victory, or do they have the infrastructure in place to create an era where they can dominate Serie A for the foreseeable future?
The question of Inter’s ownership is undoubtedly something that will continue to arise, at least until the matter is settled. Steven Zhang is returning to the club in April to start to sort out the issue that has plagued Inter for some months.
The pandemic has taken its toll on the Suning Group both at Inter and in China. They were haemorrhaging money and selling $2.3 billion worth of shares to affiliates of the Chinese government to save themselves. This, in turn, means that Chinese authorities can influence the fate of Inter.
Inter are therefore looking for a new partner after talks to sell the club feel on rocky ground after BC Partners did not value the club at the $1.1billion that Sunning proposed.
Now Suning is talking more about a new partner after receiving a loan from Goldman Sachs for $250 million that will help them bridge the gap and pay Inter’s debt before the deadlines applied to them. The clock is now ticking as they need to find such an investor or they may be forced to sell key assets. Sunning, however, remain calm and expect to find a solution.
This in turn could affect the future of Antonio Conte who is out of contract with Inter in 2022, along with directors Beppe Marotta and Piero Ausilio. New agreements will not be discussed until the end of the season. Firstly, because the three will want to know the state of clubs ownership and because if Inter does win the Scudetto and the issues are solved, they have stronger bargaining positions than they currently have.
Conte will make it no secret that if he is to stay, then signings will be necessary, especially if he is to make another assault on Serie A and the Champions League. There are the likes of Arturo Vidal and Alexander Kolarov who may see themselves looking for another club next season as it hasn’t worked out for them this campaign and the Nerazzurri have made it no secret that a left-back and a successor to Samir Handanovic is needed.
Udinese’s Juan Musso has been looked at in goal as has midfielder Rodrigo De Paul, whilst Chelsea’s Emerson Palmieri has been touted at left-back. Conte does also need a new centre-forward to back-up the ever vital Romelu Lukaku.
Should the funds not be available, this will be a whole different story, but if the financial state is resolved, Inter look to be in a very healthy situation. They have young players who are returning from loan like Sebastiano Esposito, who is impressing at Venezia and Federico Dimarco, who has been superb at Hellas Verona, although Ivan Juric’s side can make his move permanent for €6.5m. Dalbert, Joao Mario and Radja Nianggolan are also out on loan and the club will be looking for a new destination.
By the start of next season with some clever movement in the window the squad could look younger and have players approaching their peak who now have a Scudetto under their belt. In turn, the experienced players also become younger and therefore don’t warrant ‘The Old Guard’.
Inter can have a long and exciting future at the top of the Italian domestic game. However, it comes with a huge ‘but’. If Suning can strike a deal with a new partner, then the future looks bright.
Their coach, directors and staff seemingly want to stay; they have a great squad and will be able to get the mix right without much effort. The pandemic will soon dissipate enough to allow supporters back and give extra revenue, and they can continue their assault on Europe and the league. If Suning does not get this right, then there may be some very tough years ahead.