Antonio Conte has quit his role as Inter Milan manager just three weeks after leading the club to its first Serie A title in 11 years.
The Italian head coach leaves his role at Inter Milan by mutual consent and is all set to be replaced by Lazio manager Simone Inzaghi.
Conte spent two years in charge of Inter and still had a year remaining on his contract but has decided to call time with the Italian club. He has agreed on a deal with the club’s owners that will see him paid €7m (£6m) for the final year of his contract.
The former Chelsea boss guided Inter to their first Serie A title in 11 years but was involved in a dispute with the club’s owners after they proposed downsizing of his squad. Inter chairman Steven Zhang reportedly asked Conte to cut his wage bill by 15-20% and sell players worth up to £70m this summer in order to deal with financial constraints that the club was facing.
Evidently, Conte was against this and has decided to step down from his role.
A club statement read that thanked Conte for his achievements with the club: “FC Internazionale Milano announces that it has reached an agreement for the consensual termination of the contract with the coach Antonio Conte.
“The whole club would like to thank Antonio for the extraordinary work he has done, which culminated in winning the 19th Scudetto. Antonio Conte will remain forever in the history of our club.”
Conte was keen to keep up to eight players who he saw as “untouchables” including Milan Skriniar, Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez.
Lukaku is happy at Inter but with Conte’s departure, there is a huge question mark over whether or not he will stay in Italy still. He shared a great relationship with the manager and this can have adverse impacts on the champions.
The club’s strategy, according to Sky in Italy, could include the sale of one of the club’s star players and a move to focus on developing young talent.
Lazio manager Inzaghi is set to replace Conte at the San Siro. The former Italy striker has been in charge of the Rome club since 2016 and led them to a sixth-place finish this season. With not too many marquee managers available, this may be the next best option.
Here is the full report by Kaveh Solhekol of Sky Sports News:
“Antonio Conte is one of the best managers in the world, and this evening he is unemployed, although he has got €7m pay-off from Inter Milan. There had been crunch talks going on all day about his future and he was very unhappy about the fact that the owners of the club had asked him just a few days after winning the Italian title for the first time in 11 years to cut costs.
“They wanted him to shave around €100m off Inter’s budget for next season and Conte was very unhappy about that. He basically said that he had won the title, he had done what had been asked of him, but when it came to Europe, they had finished bottom of their Champions League group.
“Next season, he wanted to win the title again and to win the Champions League. He wanted to make them a force in Europe again as well, and he claimed he would not be able to do that if they were asking him to sell some of his best players to cut the wage bill. He said he could not manage with one hand tied behind his back and that’s the reason why he has decided to go.
“He had one year remaining on his contract worth around €11m after-tax, so a lot of the talks today were around what the pay-off was going to be. The question people will be asking is why Inter’s owners have allowed this to happen? This is a manager who has won titles at Juventus as both a player and as a manager. He’s someone who has won titles at Chelsea and he’s done it again at Inter.
“The owners of Inter are a Chinese retail giant called Suning, who also owned the reigning Chinese Super League champions Jiangsu Suning. They won the Chinese title in November but just a few months later, Suning turned around and said they were closing the club down due to financial problems.
“They wanted to step back from football, and that’s exactly what they have done at their other club as well, Inter Milan. They felt it was costing them too much money. Conte has heard what they have had to say and decided this is not how he operates.”