Antonio Conte says Inter have three fit midfielders for their Serie A clash with Cagliari, with Ashley Young a candidate for an early debut.
Antonio Conte admitted Inter face a midfield “emergency” as he dismissed transfer talk as making it look like the club were “buying half of Real Madrid”.
Conte is considering giving new recruits Ashley Young and Victor Moses immediate debuts against Cagliari on Sunday, with Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud and Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen also thought to be targets.
With Marcelo Brozovic suffering an ankle injury in last weekend’s draw at Lecce, Antonio Candreva suspended and Valentin Lazaro loaned to Newcastle, Inter lack engine-room options for the San Siro clash.
The 1-1 outcome against Lecce has left Inter four points behind Serie A leaders Juventus.
Asked whether the confirmed new arrivals could figure, after Young signed from Manchester United and Moses was prised from Chelsea on loan, Conte stressed he would do whatever it takes to ensure Inter are competitive in midfield.
Young and Moses can both play as attacking full-backs or in wide midfield roles.
“Tomorrow we are in emergency,” Conte said in a Saturday news conference.
“We have only three midfielders. Candreva is suspended and Lazaro has left, meaning we will also need to make hasty decisions.
“However, as for the title we need to focus on ourselves. This is what we have to do at all times. We cannot worry about the other teams. Let us focus on ourselves and our job. I want us to keep improving. Let us keep up this enthusiasm.”
Eriksen was left out of Tottenham’s team on Saturday for the FA Cup game against Southampton, indicating he may have played his last game for former Inter boss Jose Mourinho.
Yet Conte has become bemused by media coverage of Inter’s pursuit of new players, telling reporters: “You make it seem that we’re buying half of Real Madrid.”
Conte outlined Inter’s transfer policy and said supporters should not expect Young and Moses to instantly become game-changers with the Nerazzurri.
— Inter (@Inter_en) January 23, 2020
“If we get cash then we will invest I think,” Conte said. “But I don’t think that is a surprise or anything strange. We want to strengthen this squad.
“[Chief executive Giuseppe] Marotta has been very clear on this matter. If we bring in two players, for instance, two will leave. But let us keep our feet on the ground.
“We cannot put too much expectation on the new arrivals. Young and Moses did not play much at their previous clubs so they need time to settle. Let us be patient and give them time.”
Criticism of Inter’s performance in the draw at Lecce rankles with Conte, who says his team cannot always play at their peak.
“Listen, it is simple,” he said. “We need to go at full pelt in every game.
“I know that is not always possible. During a season there are lots of games, so you cannot always give 110 per cent. It is normal to have an off day every now and then. That is football and it happens.”