'We were focused and sharp but lacked balance' – Pioli eyes further Inter improvement

After winning their final Europa League group game with elimination already confirmed, the manager urged his side to improve further

Inter coach Stefano Pioli believes it is clear his side must continue to improve, despite their Europa League win over Sparta Prague on Thursday.

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Ahead of the game at San Siro, Inter were already guaranteed to finish bottom of Group K, while their visitors had secured top spot.

However, Eder’s brace fired the Serie A side to a 2-1 victory – with Pioli later reflecting on the positives alongside the areas in which his team must still get better.

“We tried to take the initiative, and we were focused, sharp and created some good situations,” he told Sky Italia.

“Clearly, at the moment, we still need to improve. [We must] be quicker and more effective.
“We are seeking a more balanced outfit [with a 3-4-3 formation] that can be more efficient both defending and attacking. We’ll see what system is the most effective.

“All it takes is a negative incident – which can happen, because we are not the best side in Italy and are recovering from a difficult situation – and everything becomes more difficult.

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“When there’s a setback we tend to lose our shape and get stretched out.”

With their European campaign over, 10th-placed Inter can turn their attentions back to Serie A, where they host Genoa on Sunday.

Chelsea miss out as Brozovic extends Inter stay

Inter have agreed a new two-year contract with the midfielder that ensures the Croatia international remains at San Siro for the time being

Chelsea have received some bad news on their transfer hunt as Marcelo Brozovic has agreed a two-year contract extension that will keep him at Inter until 2021.

The 24-year-old arrived at San Siro on loan from Dinamo Zagreb in January 2015, with the Serie A side having since taken up their obligation to sign him permanently.

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Under the terms of his previous deal Brozovic was tied to the club until 2019, but Inter have moved early to extend his stay in Milan.

Brozovic has made 11 appearances in all competitions for Inter this season, scoring twice and providing two assists.

BREAKING: Marcelo #Brozovic has signed a contraction extension until 2021! #ForzaInter #FCIM pic.twitter.com/lFtJlH87XR
— F.C. Internazionale (@Inter_en) December 7, 2016

The Croatia international had been the subject of a transfer bid from Antonio Conte’s side in August, but agent Miroslav Bicanic admitted that he was happy to stay in Serie A.

“Yes, it is official Brozo will stay in Inter,” he told Goal. “Otherwise, he would have been on the plane to London and not with national team in Sisak. After he returns from Croatia, Marcelo will sign a new, improved contract with Inter.”

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Having made eight league appearances for Stefano Pioli’s side this season, Brozovic will continue to play for Inter, meaning Conte will have to turn his attentions elsewhere in the transfer window.

Pioli not concerned by Simeone's Inter comments

The new Nerazzurri boss is determined to pull his side out of their current funk, and is not thinking about the possibility of a former hero returning

Stefano Pioli is not concerned by Diego Simeone’s desire to coach Inter in the future and is focused on revitalising their fortunes this season.

The current Inter boss has come under pressure as the Nerazzurri have been dumped out of the Europa League and are struggling down in 10th in Serie A.

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To add to that pressure former Inter midfielder Simeone – along with his son Giovanni – has reiterated his desire to return to the club where he won the UEFA Cup as a player in 1998.

His interest does not worry Pioli, though, and he has told the Atletico Madrid manager to focus on his own team, rather than looking into the future.

“I just think about the real situation,” Pioli told a media conference.

“That [situation] is that I coach Inter and he coaches Atletico. We both have to stay focused and concentrate on our work.

“I’m the coach of Inter and I’m focused on my work here. I’m determined and keen to be successful, along with my team.”

#Pioli looks ahead to #InterSpartaPraga: “We must get straight back to winning ways” https://t.co/HcrsmFn5qu #UEL #FCIM pic.twitter.com/ywHhyj9L0T
— F.C. Internazionale (@Inter_en) December 7, 2016

Inter are already guaranteed to finish bottom of Group K after a miserable European campaign, so Thursday’s home clash with Sparta Prague – who will finish top – is a chance for Pioli’s squad to restore some pride.

“This match is an opportunity for us to return to winning ways and honour a continental competition,” he added.

“We are disappointed to have missed out of qualification because it’s a prestigious trophy and the team put a lot of effort in last season to achieve European football.

“I believe in the team and we have the potential to be successful. We have to work hard and give 100 per cent until the last.”

Arsenal receive boost as Gabigol agent hints at Inter exit

The Gunners could be in line to seal the Brazilian on a loan move after the player’s agent indicated he was not happy in Serie A

Arsenal target Gabigol is “not happy” due to a lack of playing time at Inter, according to the player’s agent.

The 20-year-old, who has been labelled as the ‘next Neymar’ after moving to Europe from Santos, has played just 16 minutes of Serie A football this season.

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Gabigol was left on the bench at the weekend as Inter lost 3-0 to Napoli and is eager to move away from Stefano Pioli’s side to get more match experience.

The forward’s agent, Wagner Ribeiro, revealed that he is likely to leave in January, with Premier League giants Arsenal among the sides linked with the Brazil international.

“Gabriel is not happy at the moment,” Ribeiro told Radio Bandeirantes. 

“It’s not a case of being in conflict with his team-mates; the problem is that he never gets a chance to play. In January we want the situation resolved.

“Just before he left, Frank de Boer said there was no problem but now with Pioli the situation is the same. If he doesn’t get a chance to play when his team are 3-0 down to Napoli, when will he get a chance?”

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Ribeiro confirmed that there has been interest from clubs in Brazil, but indicated that Gabigol is likely to stay in Europe if he leaves the San Siro outfit on loan in the January transfer window.

“This possibility exists and he could return to Brazil in 2017, even if that would be seen as a step backwards,” Ribeiro continued. 

“There is, however, the situation concerning the non-EU slot that Gabriel takes in the team. If he goes out on loan to Brazil they would lose this place so it would be easier for him to head out to another club in Italy.”

Simeone: Some day I will coach Inter

The Argentine has never hidden his hopes of taking over at San Siro at some point, and his words were echoed by his son who expects a move to Italy

Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone says there is no problem with his son Giovanni stating he will coach Inter in the future because he has often spoken of a desire to lead the Nerazzurri later in his career.

Simeone has made no secret of the fact he plans to return to San Siro to coach a club he represented as a player and with whom he won the UEFA Cup in 1998.

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Giovanni, who plays for Genoa in Serie A, told Onda Cero last week that he expects his father to move back to Italian shores in the future.

And the Simeone senior defended his son’s comments at a news conference ahead of Atleti’s final Champions League group stage game against Bayern Munich.

“It is normal that my son, my father, my sister, my wife would say that I will train Inter in the future, because they know someday I will lead Inter,” he said.

However, Simeone insists that does not place his immediate future at the Vicente Calderon in doubt, adding: “I have nothing to say about my future. It is abundantly clear.”
When Atleti travel to the Allianz Arena, Simeone will come up against a familiar foe in Carlo Ancelotti, who led Real Madrid to Champions League glory at Los Rojiblancos’ expense in 2014.

Bayern have not been firing on all cylinders under Ancelotti, though, and cannot overhaul Simeone’s men at the top of Group D, while they trail surprise package RB Leipzig by three points in the Bundesliga.

But Simeone rejected suggestions Ancelotti is facing a crisis.

“I do not think they’ve had a crisis,” he said. “During the season there are always difficult situations.

“Sometimes you and sometimes you lose touch. Knowing Ancelotti, I have no doubt that they will fight for the Champions League.”

De Boer: Nobody is in charge at Inter

The Dutchman was fired after just 85 days of his spell in charge of the Serie A side and has opened up about what is going on in the hierarchy

Inter are in complete disarray and lacking leadership in the club’s hierarchy, according to former coach Frank de Boer.

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De Boer was hired as Nerazzurri coach in August as Roberto Mancini’s replacement less than two weeks before his side’s first game of the season. The Dutchman was sacked just 85 days into his three-year deal, with Inter languishing in 12th place in Serie A at the time.

Stefano Pioli has been appointed as De Boer’s successor, but Inter’s struggles for form and consistency continue as they were humbled 3-0 by Napoli on Friday, while the Milan side are also out of the Europa League.

De Boer has criticised Inter for their lack of patience and organisation, insisting they need to evaluate the situation carefully.
“It’s very simple. Internazionale have Chinese people who are the boss, an Indonesian chairman and then there is the board of directors, which are all Italians,” De Boer told Ziggo Sport.

“They all have the power, but none of them really has the power. That is the biggest problem of Internazionale.

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“They seem to really like this situation, but first there ought to be a good look at internal organisation.

“Everybody wants to get back at the top, but that takes time. Look at Napoli, who are playing Champions League now. But it took them eight years to reach that level. At Inter they wanted to be at the top in two weeks and it just doesn’t work like that.”

Simeone will manage Inter eventually, claims son Giovanni

The Genoa striker insists his dad is currently “very happy” at Atletico Madrid but has tipped him to take charge of the Nerazzurri one day

Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone will eventually become Inter manager, his son Giovanni believes.

Simeone, 46, has established himself as one of the finest coaches in world football at Atletico, having led them to the Spanish title in 2013-14 as well as two Champions League finals.

But although Giovanni – who currently plays for Genoa – claims his dad is “very happy” at Atletico, he has backed his father to manage the Nerazzurri one day.

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Giovanni told Onda Cero: “He will sign for Inter Milan at some point. I hope that [happens].

“He is very happy in the Atlético de Madrid, I see it as well. But Inter may occur in the future.”
Simeone famously played for Inter between 1997 and 1999, helping them win the 1997-98 UEFA Cup.

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He fuelled speculation surrounding his position at Atletico after admitting he was considering his future at the club following their defeat against Real Madrid in last season’s Champions League final.

And the Argentine confirmed in September that his contract at the Vicente Calderon had been cut by two years to expire in June 2018 instead of June 2020.

Goal reported the same month that Simeone is likely to take over at Inter in 2018 when his contract runs out at Atletico.

Napoli 3-0 Inter: Hamsik and Insigne on target as Pioli's men flounder

The hosts scored twice in the opening six minutes as they eased to a win that keeps them in touch with the Champions League chasing sides

Stefano Pioli suffered his first Serie A defeat as Inter coach as they were put to the sword in a 3-0 loss at Napoli on Friday.

Tasked with overseeing a recovery following the end of Frank de Boer’s brief and underwhelming stint at San Siro, former Lazio boss Pioli picked up his first victory in Inter’s 4-2 triumph over Fiorentina on Monday.

But he and Inter were emphatically brought back down to earth at the Stadio San Paolo, as two goals in the opening five minutes effectively put the game beyond their reach.

Piotr Zielinski opened the scoring inside two minutes and then set up Napoli captain Marek Hamsik to double the hosts’ advantage.

Napoli had been held to a 1-1 draw by Sassuolo last time out, but there was never any danger of an Inter comeback and Lorenzo Insigne’s 51st-minute volley made sure of the points.

Samir Handanovic performed heroics in the Inter goal to limit Napoli’s margin of victory as Maurizio Sarri’s men moved up to fifth in the table, just a point behind second-placed Roma.

The deadlock was broken after 107 seconds when Jose Callejon nodded Hamsik’s lofted ball across the box back to Zielinksi, whose first-time shot found the bottom-left corner.

Zielinksi then turned creator as Napoli quickly doubled their lead, Hamsik beating Handanovic at the near post with a precise low after being brilliantly played in by the Pole. 

Napoli continued to dominate and pressed to try to put the game to bed early, Manolo Gabbiadini heading narrowly wide of the right-hand post from Insigne’s left-wing cross.

Inter did finally manage to craft an opportunity and it unsurprisingly came through Mauro Icardi, who fired high and wide on the turn.

Possession was squandered by Napoli immediately from the resulting goal-kick, but Pepe Reina raced off his line to prevent Icardi from pulling one back for Inter.

Eder replaced Ever Banega – who had been struggling with an injury – for Inter at the start of the second half.

But that change did little to alter to Inter’s fortunes as Napoli made it 3-0 six minutes after the restart.

Faouzi Ghoulam saw a curling effort turned over by Handanovic, yet hewas helpless as Insigne capitalised on the Inter goalkeeper’s failure to successfully clear Ghoulam’s inswinging coner by looping a snapshot volley into the bottom-right corner

Handanovic was called on again to Hamsik from close range after the Slovakian played a neat one-two with Insigne, and he continued to be the only thing stopping from the game from developing into a rout, thwarting Gabbiadini at the near post.

Not to outdone, Napoli keeper Reina produced a fine fingertip save to stop Antonio Candreva giving Inter a glimmer of hope.

Napoli evidently took their foot off the gas in the closing stages, but there is no time to relax for Pioli, who has plenty to think about with Inter remaining eight points adrift of the Champions League places.

Pioli laments Inter's 'step backwards'

After defeating Fiorentina last time out, the Nerazzurri coach was angered to see his side take a step back against Napoli as they were easily defeated

Stefano Pioli lamented Inter’s slow start as they suffered a 3-0 Serie A loss at Napoli on Friday.

Having produced an excellent display to defeat Fiorentina last time out, Inter were slow out of the blocks at Stadio San Paolo, falling 2-0 down inside six minutes as Piotr Zielinski and Marek Hamsik scored.

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They never looked likely to get back into the match and now sit seven points behind their fifth-placed hosts, leaving Pioli to rue a poor showing that was compounded by Lorenzo Insigne’s second-half goal.

“It is a step backwards compared to recent matches, as above all the initial approach made all the difference against a quality side like Napoli,” he told Mediaset Premium.
“Conceding two goals at the San Paolo so early means it is difficult to get back into the game. We did have opportunities to score, but we failed to convert them.

“We need more care and determination in defence, so that will take time. Napoli have quality players and moved the ball well. I think Jose Callejon was perhaps offside on the first goal, but even then we should’ve covered Piotr Zielinski’s run better.

“We are working on the tactical, physical and psychological levels. We lost our balance and took the wrong approach. I also saw positioning errors on the goals we conceded.”

Inter return to Europa League action against Sparta Prague on Thursday, before welcoming Genoa to San Siro next weekend in the league.

'Europe too cold for Gabigol – it would be a dream to have him back at Santos'

The president of the Brazilian side admits he has not spoken to the 20-year-old attacker, but would be glad to see him back at his former stomping ground on loan

Santos president Modesto Roma Junior says it would be “a dream” to welcome Gabriel Barbosa back to the Brazilian club, but feels his struggles at Inter may be down to bad weather.

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The 20-year-old attacker attracted a great deal of interest from some of Europe’s top sides before he joined Inter in the last transfer window for around €30 million, with Barcelona even claiming a breach of contract when he was sold without their knowledge.

Despite the hype, the winger and forward has been unable to secure a place in the Inter first-team, having made just one appearance in all competitions – a 15-minute cameo in a 1-1 draw with Bologna in September.

Gabriel, nicknamed Gabigol, has been linked to a loan move away from San Siro ahead of the January transfer window in order to gain first-team football, and Santos are seen as one potential destination.
And the Santos chief admits he would be delighted to welcome the promising player back to Brazil, but feels the cold weather in Italy could be affecting his adaptation to his new surroundings.

“For me it remains a dream and sometimes dreams come true,” he told Bradesco Esportes FM. “Now he plays with Inter but if they wish to grant him a loan move, I would be very happy to welcome him back.

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“I haven’t spoken to him but now it’s cold in Europe and that is one thing that I know he doesn’t like.”

Gabigol remains tied to Inter until 2021.