MILAN – Simone Inzaghi spoke of his excitement and enthusiasm about taking the reins at Inter as he addressed the media on Wednesday – and says he's determined to pick up where the team left off last season.
The new Inter coach was holding his first press conference at San Siro, alongside CEO Sport Giuseppe Marotta.
“I'm really excited about this new experience and extremely motivated,” Inzaghi began. “I know it's a big task but I see it as a great challenge.
“I'm here because president [Steven] Zhang, [Giuseppe] Marotta and [Piero] Ausilio showed me how much they wanted me at Inter. My staff and I know this is a great team and a solid club, and the fans have shown me so much support already during the holidays – I know they're going to be right behind us this season.”
How did this move to Inter come about?
“It was the right time for a change. The people I spoke to made it clear how much they wanted me at Inter so I accepted this exciting challenge. I know it won't always be easy and I'm aware that we have a title to defend against lots of very well-equipped teams. But this is Inter. I want to congratulate the club, Antonio Conte and all the players for the Scudetto they won last term.”
How can you strengthen the team to defend the title?
“It's a long and difficult transfer window for everyone. There hasn't been a lot of movement yet. I knew [Achraf] Hakimi would be leaving but the club have promised me the team will be just as good as it was last season. I'm in constant contact with the management and we know what we want to do.”
Ciro Immobile won the Golden Shoe with you. What do you think Romelu Lukaku can achieve?
“I've spoken to Romelu several times. He's a sure thing, a fabulous player who works really well with the rest of the team.”
Have you spoken to Christian Eriksen?
“I spoke to him before the Euros, then I decided to leave him in peace after what happened to him. He needs time to rest, but obviously we'll welcome him back with open arms.”
Inter had a very clear playing style over the last two seasons. Do you expect that to change?
“I'm here to build on the last two years, which culminated in the Scudetto. We must be consistent and credible if we want to achieve the targets we've set ourselves.”
What will it be like to go back to the Olimpico and play against Lazio?
“I had many intense years at Lazio and I've already thanked everyone there. I'll always be grateful to [Claudio] Lotito for the chance he gave me. I think we'd reached the end of a cycle. I took some time to mull over everything and opted for a change. I was lucky enough to win things with Lazio and it was a great experience. 251 matches with the same club is quite something.”
What do you want to see from your own Inter team?
“I want intensity – a team that's always completely focused. Strong teams react when things don't go their way. My teams have always played with intensity right down to the last minute – Lazio often used to score goals in added time.”
What do you expect to happen in the transfer window?
“I knew [Achraf] Hakimi would leave. It's a real shame because after the season he had Europe's biggest clubs were lining up for him. He was one of the stars of Inter's Scudetto triumph. It's difficult for everyone at the moment but I know we'll have a great team whatever happens. The club have already done one excellent deal by bringing in [Hakan] Calhanoglu. With [Ashley] Young leaving too, we obviously need to make a few signings but there's no rush.”
Do you plan to use Calhanoglu like you did Luis Alberto?
“Hakan and Luis are similar players. I'm happy to have Calhanoglu – he's a player I've always liked. He's skilful, works hard and is very handy from set-pieces. I'm sure he'll do really well here.”
You'll be coaching Stefan de Vrij again now at Inter...
“I've spoken to all the players and, yes, I've coached De Vrij before. I also played with [Aleksandar] Kolarov and [Samir] Handanovic. It's nice to be able to work with them again. I'm sure I'll get on very well with everyone.”
Is doing well in the Champions League one of the targets you've set?
“We'll certainly be aiming to reach the knockout stages. The Champions League is an extremely tough, very physical competition. Playing two games a week can be very draining but we'll make sure we're ready for it.”
How do you deal with pressure?
“Rome was a good school in that respect but there's pressure wherever you go in this job. I like challenges and joining the team that won the Scudetto is a big challenge for me and my staff. We must be good at overcoming difficulties together.”
What requests have you made to the club?
“My goal is to provide consistency. I know what I've stepped into here: a fantastic squad, superb fans and a great club. We're Inter and we'll always give everything on the pitch.”
Do you think the Milan derby could determine the Scudetto?
“We know how important the derby is in Rome and it's the same in Milan. AC Milan were top of the table for a long time last season. They have an excellent team and coach. It will be a great battle.”
What did you learn from matches between Lazio and Inter in recent years?
“I knew we'd always be up against a solid, compact side who are hard to score against.”
What sort of role do you expect Federico Dimarco to play? Will you use Ivan Perisic at wing-back?
“Dimarco did really well at Verona. He's an Inter academy product, which is something to be proud of. He's a player the club and I are counting on. Perisic has done brilliantly as a wing-back. I'm looking forward to welcoming him. He can do very well in our system.”
Nicolo Barella, Alessandro Bastoni and Lautaro Martinez have all reached the final, which will give them added experience...
“They're already winners because they've won the Scudetto. The more winners you have in the squad the better. I'm happy Barella and Bastoni are in the European Championship final. Lautaro is fired up for the final against Brazil. Italy have been a joy to watch during the Euros and Roberto Mancini deserves huge credit. I knew he had every chance of being successful.”
Could Stefano Sensi be an important player in your Inter side?
“He's a player I rate very highly. Tactically he's very intelligent. He knows I rate him because we've spoken. He's had some injury problems over the last 18 months but when he's back to his best he'll be an excellent option for Inter.”