Antonio Conte vowed Inter should not be portrayed as Italy’s footballing “saviours” as they battle for Europa League glory.
Conte and his team waits for a semi-final against Shakhtar Donetsk on Monday in Dusseldorf, with the chance of ending the long season with silverware. Recently attentions have turned to Inter at home after Juventus failed against Lyon and Napoli lost to Barcelona in the Champions League knockout stages, while Atalanta bowed down to Paris Saint-Germain in the quarter-finals of the same competition.
Although the Nerazzurri represent Italy’s last hope for a European trophy this season, but Conte dismissed the notion that they are playing for the nation.
Antonio Conte said in a news conference on Sunday:
The former Italy and Juventus boss said in a news conference on Sunday. “We don’t consider ourselves the saviours of the country, we’ve made our journey without looking at the others.” “Our goal is to improve ourselves as much as we can. If we achieve a European success I would be happy for the club, but not for myself. I’m not thinking about my personal record but about the club that decided to hire me.”
Conte looks set to move on without the injured Alexis Sanchez. The Chilean is battling to recover from a hamstring injury.
“Sanchez has been out for three quarters of the season,” Conte said. “Now we realise what kind of weapon we are missing. It is normal that not having him available is disappointing for me and denies me a fundamental element.
At the least Inter should have Romelu Lukaku available. The former Everton and Manchester United striker having scored in his last nine matches in this competition. In 2014, in his Everton days, Lukaku became the first player to have strung together such a run either in the Europa League or its forerunner, the UEFA Cup. He has been involved in 15 goals during that competition, scoring 12 times and having three assists.
Conte not ready to take anything for granted:
In spite of being through to the semi-finals of a European competition for the first time since 2009-10 campaign, Conte is not taking anything for granted for going any further. He described Shakhtar as “a team full of talented players”, saying Inter would show them “great respect”.
Conte closed down questioning about Inter’s transfer plans. Club president Steven Zhang has big plans for the club. Even Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi linked to transfer to Inter recently.
“At this time it is inappropriate to talk about the transfer market and other players,” Conte said.
“We are playing the season finale. I can only thank my squad for what they’ve done during the season and especially after lockdown, they have been commendable.”