Conte commits to Inter Milan next season

Inter Milan’s head coach Antonio Conte walks past the Europa League trophy at the end of the final match against Sevilla on  Aug 21. (AP pic)

MILAN: Antonio Conte will continue at the helm of Inter Milan next season, the club confirmed on Tuesday, only days after the fiery Italian hinted he was ready to quit after just one campaign.

Conte held a “constructive meeting focused on continuity and strategy” with the club’s Chinese president Steven Zhang and team management which lasted just over three hours in a villa outside Milan.

“The two parties laid the foundations to continue working together on the club’s project,” the club said in a statement.

Inter opted for continuity after finishing second just one point behind champions Juventus, with the Chinese owners also confirming confidence in the entire management team.

Conte will now lead the club’s bid to topple Juventus with coaching novice Andrea Pirlo having replaced Maurizio Sarri as coach at the nine-time reigning Serie A champions.

The 51-year-old Conte’s departure was being heralded following an outburst after Inter Milan’s 3-2 Europa League final defeat to Sevilla last week.

“Now we’ll return to Milan, we’ll take a couple of days off. We will try to plan the future of Inter with or without me,” said Conte, after the team missed out on a first trophy since 2011.

“It has been a very tough season from all points of view, the best decision must be taken for the good of Inter, with the utmost cordiality.”

“I didn’t like some situations.”

The former Chelsea and Juventus boss took over in May 2019 on a three-year contract worth a reported €12 million a season.

But his relationship with club management and CEO Giuseppe Marotta in particular was reported to be tense.

On the final day of the domestic season Conte slammed the fact that players had been offered “little protection from the club”.

“I don’t want another year like that.”

Marotta, however, insisted last week that “everything was forgotten” after Conte’s heated criticism.

It was not the first time Conte has publicly complained about the club.

Conte was also critical after the club’s Champions League group-stage exit which he blamed on a lack of investment despite the signing of Romelu Lukaku for €75 million.

But he still managed to build a competitive team around strikers Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez, which Zhang said made the club “optimistic for the future”.

“Conte and his technical staff are doing a great job,” said Zhang.

Former Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri had been ready to succeed Conte, whom he also replaced in Turin in 2014, should the former Italy boss quit, according to reports.

Allegri parted company with Juventus in 2019 and has also been linked with Paris Saint-Germain, but preferred to stay in Italy.