Inter can still challenge for Serie A title – Joao Mario

The Portugal international believes his side can still put up a fight for their first Scudetto since 2010, despite already sitting seven points off the pace

Joao Mario believes Inter can still challenge for the Serie A title despite a shaky start to Frank de Boer’s reign.

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Inter beat defending Serie A champions Juventus 2-1 last month but have since drawn with Bologna and lost to Roma, though they did claim a 2-0 victory at Empoli beforehand.

De Boer’s men are seven points adrift of leaders Juve in ninth, but Joao Mario – who joined from Sporting CP in August – has hope they can contend for a first Scudetto since 2010.

“I think it’s normal for a team like Inter that is under construction to go through some difficult periods, as we are now,” the midfielder told La Gazzetta dello Sport.  

“We often go behind in games and this should not happen, especially as it’s difficult to reach the Champions League and aim to win something if we always have to fight back.

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“Having said that, I certainly don’t think Inter are out of the Scudetto race. It’s true Juventus are very strong, have won the last five titles and had a good start.

“Our principle objective is to qualify for the Champions League, as it’s obvious a side like Inter has to be in the most prestigious tournament.

“Then, if we are able to consolidate that position, we will still be close enough to gamble for the Scudetto. We’ll ensure we are ready for that final sprint.”

Icardi signs new Inter deal

Arsenal and Tottenham have both been linked with a move for the Argentina international, but he has now brought an end to the gossip by committing his future to the club

Striker Mauro Icardi has signed a new contract at Inter that ties him to the Nerazzurri until 2021, the club have announced.

Argentina international Icardi’s previous deal was due to expire in three years’ time but Inter have been eager to prolong the captain’s stay at San Siro.

The 23-year-old joined Inter from Sampdoria in 2013 and has scored 58 goals in 114 appearances in all competitions.

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A club statement read: “FC Internazionale is delighted to announce that an agreement has been reached to extend Mauro Icardi’s contract until June 30, 2021.

“The Argentine striker, born in Rosario, joined Inter from Sampdoria in the 2013-14 season. Since then he has scored 58 goals in 114 appearances, giving him one of the highest goals-per-game ratios in Nerazzurri history.

“And there’s a whole lot more still to come…”
Icardi has been heavily linked with a move away from Inter in recent months.

Napoli were reportedly interested in taking him south to replace Juventus-bound Gonzalo Higuain, while the player’s wife and agent Wanda Nara also claimed she had met with Atletico Madrid over a potential transfer in July.

Icardi himself, however, hinted in September that a contract renewal was in the offing.

He told Mediaset: “The club invested heavily in the summer, bringing in quality players and this is an advantage for me.

“I want to win with this shirt. I want to stay here. I am comfortable in the city and I never thought about leaving this team.”

No problems between Toure and Guardiola, insists agent

The Ivorian midfielder remains on the fringes of the Citizens team but his representatives has denied there is a rift with the manager at the Etihad Stadium

There are no lingering problems between Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola and Yaya Toure, according to the midfielder’s agent, Dimitri Seluk.

Toure has started just one competitive match under the former Bayern Munich head coach, and was left out of City’s squad for the Champions League group stage.

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Seluk triggered something of a war of words with Guardiola when he accused the 45-year-old of “humiliating” his client, prompting the City manager to demand an apology from Toure.

But Seluk has now stressed that there is no animosity between Guardiola and the Ivorian and says he is likely to stay at the Etihad Stadium until the end of the season.

“Problems between Yaya and Pep? No, absolutely not. I can deny those claims,” he told Tuttomercatoweb.

“Yaya will stay at Manchester City. He has a valid contract until the end of the season. After that, we’ll see what the best solution is for his future.”

Inter were heavily linked with a move for Toure in the previous transfer window, though a concrete proposal from Serie A failed to materialise.

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Seluk claims that Toure still has plenty of admirers, but says that City’s asking price is the reason that a switch to San Siro fell through.

“There are many teams who would like Yaya, not only in Italy,” he said.

When asked why a deal with Inter could not be reached, he added: “The problem was with Manchester City, who asked for a lot of money to let him go.”

Inter did not deserve to lose to Roma, claims De Boer

The Dutchman’s side slipped to defeat at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday night but he felt his team controlled the game and ought to have earned at least a point

Inter boss Frank de Boer claimed that Sunday’s 2-1 defeat at the hands of Roma was harsh on his side.
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The visitors fell behind for an eighth time in nine competitive games this season when Edin Dzeko fired home from close range after just five minutes.

But after improving in the second half, they equalised through Ever Banega, only to concede what proved to the winner four minutes later.

Substitute Stevan Jovetic’s needless foul gifted Roma a free-kick from which Alessandro Florenzi picked out Kostas Manolas, whose header deflected off Mauro Icardi on its way into the net.

The defeat sent Inter down to ninth place in the table, but De Boer insisted that his charges were unfortunate to have left the capital empty-handed.

“We did not deserve to lose,” he said. “In the first half we made many mistakes, especially involving [Mohamed] Salah who is very fast and caused us a lot of problems.

“But in the second half we controlled the game and were punished for a silly foul when they made it 2-1. 

“1-1 would have been a more deserved result.”
And despite the fact that the reverse capped off a miserable week in which Inter also suffered a 3-1 Europa League defeat at Sparta Prague, De Boer remains confident that his charges will soon be back to winning ways.

“If we can improve upon our mistakes, we will make it easy for ourselves and will win,” he said. 

“Roma are a great team and when you make the mistakes we made in the first half, it is difficult to win.

“But even if the result was bad, the team played well in the second half. We were very compact and we wasted some good opportunities.”

Following the international break, Inter return to Serie A action with a home game against Cagliari.

Roma 2-1 Inter: Dzeko and Manolas move hosts into third

Luciano Spalletti’s side made it four home wins in a row to move level on points in the table with Lazio, AC Milan and Chievo and just five points behind leaders Juventus

Roma climbed to third in the Serie A table as goals from Edin Dzeko and Kostas Manolas secured a 2-1 victory over Inter at Stadio Olimpico.

Manolas’ first goal of the season, via a deflection off Mauro Icardi, was enough to seal all three points for Luciano Spalletti’s side, moving them level with Lazio, AC Milan and Chievo on 13 points.

The Giallorossi flew out of the blocks on Sunday as Dzeko converted a Bruno Peres cross to claim his fifth goal of the season after just five minutes.

Both sides struck the woodwork during a thrilling first half and Inter could count themselves a touch unfortunate to have suffered what was their first defeat since the opening day of the season.

Ever Banega had levelled for the visitors as they raised their game in the second half, but Manolas’ header from Alessandro Florenzi’s free-kick ensured all three points for the hosts.

A fourth successive home league win sees Roma climb to within five of leaders Juventus, while Frank de Boer’s side head into the international break in ninth place.

Inter had fallen behind in seven of their eight competitive games this season and that trend continued as Roma opened the scoring with just five minutes gone.

Mohamed Salah played Peres into the box and the full-back’s low cross was neatly clipped home by Dzeko from close range.

The visitors almost produced an instant response as Banega’s stunning 20-yard strike crashed back off Wojciech Szczesny’s right-hand post.

Salah was providing Roma’s main threat and, after setting up Peres for a chance, he twice went close to doubling the hosts’ lead within a minute.

After being sent clean through by Dzeko, the Egypt international struck the outside of the post and then saw an angled shot parried by Samir Handanovic who was also equal to Florenzi’s follow-up effort.

Inter, meanwhile, created several decent openings themselves, notably when Antonio Candreva wasted a great opportunity on 32 minutes by slicing his volley wide after an Ivan Perisic cross had found him unmarked at the far post.

In a frenetic end to a pulsating first half, Florenzi and Dzeko both found themselves in one-on-one situations with Handanovic but failed to score, while Candreva and Miranda came close to equalising for the visitors.

The first meaningful action of the second half saw Diego Perotti’s fierce drive kept out by the impressive Handanovic before Kevin Strootman headed a Salah cross over the bar.

Perisic then flashed a 25-yard free-kick narrowly wide for Inter and moments later Assane Gnoukouri blazed over when well placed, but Banega finally claimed the equaliser that his side’s second-half performance deserved.

Icardi’s clever pass caught the Roma defence flat-footed and Banega calmly slotted home his first goal of the season.

Within four minutes, however, Inter bagged what proved to be the winner as Florenzi’s delivered a flat free-kick into the box and Manolas’ header seemed to take a deflection off Icardi on its way into the net.

Inter continued to push for an equaliser but their seven-year wait for a league win in Roma continues, with Handanovic keeping it to 2-1 with a superb late save to deny Dzeko.

Banega wants end to sloppy Inter starts

The Nerazzurri have conceded first in all but one of their competitive games this season and the Argentine midfielder is keen for them to break that wretched habit

Inter midfielder Ever Banega believes slow starts are costing Frank de Boer’s side after they went down to a 2-1 Serie A loss at Roma.

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Edin Dzeko gave the hosts a fifth-minute lead – with Inter having conceded first in all but one of their competitive games this season.

Banega produced a coolly taken equaliser before Kostas Manolas sealed the points for Roma, meaning the Argentina international’s first Inter goal came as little comfort.

“It’s a shame my goal ultimately didn’t help,” he told reporters

“It was a very difficult game and we created so many chances, it’s disappointing to emerge empty-handed.

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“We must continue working and going forward to get back to winning ways as soon as possible.

“It’s a pity about the goal at the start, then we failed to make the most of our opportunities. This game teaches us not to repeat the same mistakes.

“We must learn to start strong in the opening 15-20 minutes and not just react to going behind.”

Inter defender Davide Santon felt unnecessary mistakes cost his side at Stadio Olimpico.

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“We committed too many errors when building play, despite the fact we knew Roma have super-fast players,” he said on Inter’s official website. “We controlled the contest better in the second half but conceded a free-kick that we should have avoided [for Manolas’ goal].

“We were feeling confident at 1-1 but their strike for 2-1 took the wind out of our sails. We have to work hard, we conceded first yet again this evening.

“The objective is still [qualifying for] the Champions League but we have to improve our approach.

“Too often we allowed Roma to pick up the second ball. We had a lot of chances but couldn’t manage to equalise straight away.

“We messed up lots of passes and both sides had bags of openings to score.”

Mourinho welcomes Samuel and Milito to Old Trafford

The Argentine pair will be guests of their former boss as the Red Devils look to record a second consecutive league victory

Ex-Inter stars Walter Samuel and Diego Milito will watch Manchester United versus Stoke City as guests of their former boss Jose Mourinho on Sunday.

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The duo were influential figures in Mourinho’s treble-winning Inter side of 2009-10, with Milito scoring all the goals in the respective 1-0 and 2-0 triumphs over Roma and Bayern Munich in the Coppa Italia and Champions League finals.

Mourinho is in the early stages of trying to build comparable success at United and he warmly praised both men in his programme notes for the match.

“I am very happy to say that I have two special guests at Old Trafford this afternoon and I cannot let their visit pass without saying a few words about them,” he wrote.

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“They are Diego Milito and Walter Samuel, two of my players from the magical Internazionale team that won Serie A, the Coppa Italia and the Champions League in 2010.

“Samuel was a brick wall in our defence and Diego, in the final weeks of that season, scored the cup-winning goal against Roma, the league-winning goal in Siena and two more goals in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich.

“It goes without saying they both deserve my directors’ box seats this afternoon for their efforts.”

RUMOURS: Inter want Darmian on loan

The former Torino full-back has featured only once this season after being pushed to the periphery, and he is reportedly keen on a move back to Serie A

Inter Milan are set to make a move for Manchester United defender Matteo Darmian in January, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

It is reported the Serie A giants want the fullback on an initial loan with a view to a permanent move in the summer.

The 26-year-old, who moved to United from Torino last summer, has featured just once this season in the Europa League defeat at Feyenoord.

The Italy international has struggled with injuries and is not part of manager Jose Mourinho’s plans.

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Sparta Prague 3-1 Inter: De Boer's men beaten again in Europa League

Rodrigo Palacio supplied the only cheer of a forgettable evening for the Nerazzurri, as they were soundly beaten in the Czech capital

Inter suffered a first-half capitulation and slumped to their second consecutive Europa League defeat as Sparta Prague ran out deserved 3-1 winners at Generali Arena.

Striker Vaclav Kadlec scored twice in the first half of a contest in which Sparta were given an easy ride by an Inter defence that looked vulnerable throughout.

Rodrigo Palacio pulled one back for the visitors in an improved second half, but the game ended miserably for Frank de Boer’s side as Andrea Ranocchia was sent off and Mario Holek scored late on to make it 3-1.

Victory over Inter gave interim Sparta coach David Holoubek a dream start to his time in charge, which began after Zdenek Scasny was sacked in the aftermath of a 2-0 defeat to city rivals Slavia.

Last year’s Czech First League runners-up were billed as a club in crisis ahead of the game but it was Inter who looked out of sorts, and any rapport De Boer had built with Inter fans after three wins in their last four Serie A games felt rather fragile at the end of another sorely disappointing European performance.

Inter were caught out in the seventh minute when Felipe Melo misjudged what looked like a simple interception, allowing Borek Dockal’s pass to roll through to Kadlec, who drilled the ball low into the corner of the net.

De Boer’s side lacked shape and confidence early on and Jeison Murillo twice gave his team-mates a scare, first getting needlessly caught in possession by Dockal and then almost gifting the hosts a penalty after felling Kadlec.

However, with 25 minutes gone, Martin Frydek’s simple free-kick found Kadlec completely unmarked and the striker was allowed to stride into the box unchallenged before slotting past Samir Handanovic.

Only a timely interception from Murillo stopped Ales Cermak making it 3-0 in a nightmarish first half for the visitors, as he raced to meet a Kadlec delivery that flashed across goal.

Daniel Holzer created a similar chance for Vyacheslav Karavayev early in the second half as Inter’s porous defence showed little sign of firming up.

Kadlec should have had a hat-trick when he beat Murillo for pace and clipped a shot over Handanovic only to see the ball clear the crossbar, but Inter at last began to gain a foothold on proceedings.

Antonio Candreva offered some creativity with a good cross that Eder headed over the bar, before Palacio dragged Inter back into the game 19 minutes from time.

The Argentine forward played a one-two with Eder to cut through Sparta’s defence and he placed his shot into the corner of the net, giving Tomas Koubek no chance.

Inter’s comeback was short-lived, however. Ranocchia was sent off for a second bookable offence and when Ondrej Mazuch headed Kadlec’s free-kick back across the face of goal, Holek nodded into an open net to wrap up a fine victory for Sparta.

'Kondogbia doesn't want to listen' – De Boer slams midfielder after Inter draw

The Dutch coach substituted the midfielder after just 28 minutes at San Siro on Sunday and criticised him after the game for continuing to make the same mistakes

Geoffrey Kondogbia’s Inter career is in crisis after coach Frank de Boer slammed his performance in the 1-1 draw against Bologna.
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The French midfielder was caught in possession by Bologna’s Saphir Taider after 14 minutes at San Siro, allowing the visitors to open the scoring through Mattia Destro.

Ivan Perisic scored with a volley to level the match before half-time, but Kondogbia’s part in the game lasted just 28 minutes and he was replaced by Assane Demoya Gnoukouri.

After the game, which ended Inter’s run of three consecutive Serie A wins, De Boer criticised Kondogbia, telling Mediaset Premium: “This morning we talked about it, that he had to play simple and on the Bologna goal he did not do that.

“We already talked about this and he makes the same mistakes often.
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“We cannot accept that from players when we’ve told them many times already. I told him this morning, so if he doesn’t want to listen, then what can I do? It’s not the first time we’ve discussed it.

“We told him many times, he doesn’t want to listen.”
De Boer made three changes to the side that beat Empoli 2-0 in Inter’s previous match, replacing injured duo Jeison Murillo and Danilo D’Ambrosio with Andrea Ranocchia and Ever Banega.

Brazilian striker Gabriel Barbosa made his debut as a second-half substitute, but he was unable to affect a result that De Boer admitted was disappointing.

“We did drop two points, yes,” said the Dutchman. “This morning we found out that we had to change two players. In the opening 20 minutes we were tense, then Bologna’s goal changed the game.

“Effectively, we lost it in those opening 20 minutes, because the chances we created did not go in. After 20 minutes, I saw a team that wanted to win and played pretty well.

“However, in the final 20 minutes we suffered a little because we got stretched out and many players were tired. It was not our best performance, but I am content with the work we’ve done.”

On Gabriel’s performance, he said: “It wasn’t easy to come on with all that pressure of a 1-1 situation, but in my view he did pretty well.

“We know he can play better. This is only his first appearance.”

Bologna coach Roberto Donadoni was pleased to see his side collect their first Serie A point of the season away from home, saying: “We held out, battled and had two incredible chances at the end that we could’ve taken to even win.

“Overall I am satisfied, as it’s not easy for anyone to get a result at San Siro.”