Inter's Future Bright under Inzaghi but Off-field Uncertainty Reigns

Inter Milan are riding high after winning their 20th league title. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP
Inter Milan are riding high after winning their 20th league title. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP
TT

Inter's Future Bright under Inzaghi but Off-field Uncertainty Reigns

Inter Milan are riding high after winning their 20th league title. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP
Inter Milan are riding high after winning their 20th league title. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

Inter Milan are flying high after sealing the Serie A title by winning the Milan derby but off-field uncertainty is still the order of the day for the new Italian champions.
Last season's run to the Champions League final looked like a one-off for Inter, one of Europe's grand clubs who like much of the continent's football royalty have to deal with a huge resource gap to the Premier League and state-backed clubs like Paris Saint-Germain, AFP said.
And their situation off the field is yet to fully stabilize even as they receive a second star on their jersey for their 20th league crown.
Hanging over Inter for the past three years has been an emergency loan taken out with investment fund Oaktree, which must be paid in full next month and after interest reportedly amounts to between 375-380 million euros.
That loan -- whose exact figure Inter would not confirm to AFP -- had been taken out in 2021 as Inter and other Italian clubs were hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Oaktree can, much like Elliott did with Milan in 2018, take control of Inter should that loan either be not repayed or refinanced by Inter's Chinese owners Suning.
Inter president Steven Zhang appeared bullish at Sunday's Formula One Chinese Grand Prix, strongly hinting that come the summer he will still be president.
"Every day there are rumors (about Suning selling)... What I can say is that we will continue to fight, continue to win," said Zhang to Sky Sport on the paddock at the Shanghai International Circuit.
"None of the rumors are true. As long as I'm the president, as long as I'm the owner we're going to continue to win."
New deal
Zhang was not in Milan for -- Champions League final aside -- the biggest game of Suning's near eight-year reign as owners, and in fact hasn't been there for months.
Zhang, who lost a court case with China Construction Bank over personal debts of 320 million euros, is negotiating a reported 400-million-euro loan with another US fund, this time with Pimco, which Inter will use to pay off Oaktree and keep the club with Suning.
Contacted by AFP, Pimco said that they "couldn't discuss ongoing negotiations".
While effectively kicking the can down the road with another reported three-year loan with even higher interest than the 12 percent negotiated with Oaktree, strong performances on the pitch and in the transfer market should boost accounts which have taken a beating since the pandemic.
Inter's posted losses of 85 million euros in 2022/23, following even heavier losses of 140 million euros and 245.6 million euros in the previous two seasons as stadiums were partially or fully closed due to the pandemic.
Zhang also basically confirmed a contract extension for Simone Inzaghi, who has done a superb job in difficult circumstances since replacing Antonio Conte three years ago and is expected to sign an extension until 2027.
Stadium uncertainty
New deals for captain Lautaro Martinez and Italy midfielder Nicolo Barella are also in the offing, while this summer is set to be the first in some time where a star player won't need to be sold to balance the books.
"I've said many times that it's a gift for me as president to work with a coach like Inzaghi," added Zhang.
"He gives me confidence and keeps the environment calm and stable. We're going to continue together."
Inter also remain in limbo with regards to getting their own stadium after plans to build a new ground on the San Siro site with AC Milan petered out last year.
Inter have pushed ahead with a new stadium project in the town of Rozzano, just south of Milan, which corporate CEO Alessandro Antonello has said is the club's priority despite talks with AC Milan and Milan city council over potentially taking possession of a renovated version of the current San Siro.
Italian construction group WeBuild is working on a feasibility study for a renovation to be finished in June which the city of Milan hopes can convince its two world famous football clubs to stay within its borders.
Mayor of Milan Giuseppe Sala has repeatedly expressed worry about what will happen to the San Siro if both teams leave, with AC Milan having bought land in suburb San Donato Milanese for their own stadium project.



Teenagers Yamal and Cubarsi Included in Young Spain Squad for European Championship 

Barcelona striker Lamine Yamal celebrates during the LaLiga match FC Barcelona vs Rayo Vallecano, in Barcelona, Spain, 19 May 2024. (EPA)
Barcelona striker Lamine Yamal celebrates during the LaLiga match FC Barcelona vs Rayo Vallecano, in Barcelona, Spain, 19 May 2024. (EPA)
TT

Teenagers Yamal and Cubarsi Included in Young Spain Squad for European Championship 

Barcelona striker Lamine Yamal celebrates during the LaLiga match FC Barcelona vs Rayo Vallecano, in Barcelona, Spain, 19 May 2024. (EPA)
Barcelona striker Lamine Yamal celebrates during the LaLiga match FC Barcelona vs Rayo Vallecano, in Barcelona, Spain, 19 May 2024. (EPA)

Spain is set to take a young squad to the European Championship, with teenagers Lamine Yamal and Pau Cubarsi among the players picked by coach Luis de la Fuente on Monday.

Fermín López, the 21-year-old Barcelona forward, also was included in the list of 29 players announced by the coach, who will have to cut three names from the squad for the tournament in Germany. López has yet to make his debut with the national team.

“They have talent and motivation,” De la Fuente said. “They are very versatile players. Fermín will take a leap forward with this call-up. I hope that they will benefit and show all the potential that they have.”

Ayoze Pérez was another of the few surprises on the list, with the 30-year-old Real Betis forward getting his first call-up to the senior squad.

Other strikers included Atletico Madrid’s Álvaro Morata and Real Madrid’s Joselu, as well as the 16-year-old Yamal of Barcelona and 21-year-old Nico Williams of Athletic Bilbao.

Along with Cubarsi, the 17-year-old Barcelona center back, other defenders included Madrid’s Nacho Fernández and 38-year-old veteran Jesús Navas of Sevilla.

Forwards Marco Asensio of Paris Saint-Germain, Pablo Sarabia of Wolverhampton, Brais Méndez of Real Sociedad and Gerard Moreno of Villarreal were left out.

Veteran Atletico midfielder Koke Resurrección also didn’t make the squad.

Spain will be aiming for a record fourth European Championship. It was drawn into Group B with Italy, Albania and Croatia.

“It’s a very difficult group but we are prepared,” De la Fuente said. “We will be fighting to be among the title contenders in the end.”

Spain will play warmups against Andorra and Northern Ireland before heading to Germany.