Antonio Conte Leaves Inter Milan Amid Clashes with Chinese Owners

Inter Milan announced on Wednesday that the club is parting ways with coach Antonio Conte with immediate effect after a season where the Italian guided Inter to their first Serie A title in over a decade. Conte has been at loggerheads with the club’s Chinese owners Suning over their plans of cost cutting, which will prevent him from building a team that he wants in order to challenge at home and Europe next season. The 51-year-old Italian still had a year left in his contract.

In its statement, Inter thanked Conte and said the coach will remain in the history of 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, culminating in the conquest of the nineteenth Scudetto. Antonio Conte will remain forever in the history of our Club,” Inter’s statement read.

Earlier on Wednesday, Italian media had reported that Conte may be leaving Inter.

“Inter-Conte, divorce!,” headlined the daily Gazzetta Dello Sport, reporting that the “final farewell could arrive in the next 48 hours”.

“Conte ready to break away,” headlined Corriere Dello Sport.

Inter registered losses of 100 million euros ($122 million) last season mainly due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Suning Group shut down their Chinese club Jiangsu FC in February months after it won the Chinese Super League title.

Five days ago, Inter secured a cash injection worth 275 million euros with US investment firm Oaktree, in the form of a loan reported to be over three years.

In this context, Suning wants to save as much as possible both on the purchase of new players and salaries, and possibly selling those with the highest value, an approach that Conte believes incompatible with the club’s desire to play at the highest level in Europe.

The former Chelsea and Juventus boss took over in May 2019 on a three-year contract worth a reported 12 million euros a season. His departure had also been heralded last summer after the club’s Europa League final defeat to Sevilla, and finishing runners-up in the league to Juventus.

Conte had blamed the club’s lack of investment on their failure to challenge in the Champions League in which they crashed out in the group stage in each of the last three seasons.

(With AFP inputs)

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