Last Wednesday night, Antonio Conte and Lautaro Martinez fought on the touchline. The next day, they took part in a mock boxing match at Inter’s training ground in front of the whole team, with Romelu Lukaku acting as Master of Ceremonies. Following that, they all got together for a barbeque. Read more about Inter financial crisis here.
Conte would wish that all of Inter’s issues could be addressed in such a lighthearted and fast manner. But, unfortunately, Lautaro could be forced to leave San Siro this summer – not because of a disagreement with his coach, but because of a cash flow crisis at his employers.
Inter are grappling with a pandemic-caused cash-flow crisis only two weeks after winning their first Serie A title in 11 years, and everyone is now well aware of the scale of the challenge. Conte has indeed ceased his general media responsibilities, claiming that he does not want to waste more time on economics than football.
🥊 | IN THE RING
For those who want to know how today's boxing showdown ended… 😉 pic.twitter.com/ITFJyCwiUn
— Inter 🏆🇮🇹 (@Inter_en) May 13, 2021
Steven Zhang’s return to Milan after a seven-month absence was expected to put an end to the confusion surrounding San Siro. Instead, it has exacerbated the situation.
Last Monday, a week after joining Conte and his players at Appiano Gentile to celebrate Inter’s first Scudetto since 2010, Zhang returned to the training center to explain why Suning, the club’s founders, needed everyone to accept pay cuts.
Zhang, according to CEO Beppe Marotta, “drew an image of the current state of the European football structure, including Inter. He just tried to raise awareness of the challenges that all clubs face, but there was no diktat or order.”
Only a desperation offer to commit to forego two months’ wages to save the club €25 million by June 30. Help is on the way, in the form of a €200 million loan from an unnamed American investor. It is expected to come this week. However, the basic fact is that Inter still has to make savings. They have already agreed to slash their operating expenses by 15% next season. Persuading players to forego pay is proving much more difficult.
To begin with, each case is unique, as the Italian press repeatedly pointed out last week. The first-team starter on a long-term contract is much more likely to accept a minor cut – or deferral. An aging fringe star whose future is unclear after this summer’s contract expiration. There’s also the fact that the whole team is irritated. The talks are taking place in public, which adds to the pressure to put the club first.
Wages for footballers are a controversial topic at the best of times. They’re even more so in the midst of a global economic recession. It has left so many people broke or jobless.
Former Lazio star Paolo Di Canio on Sky Sport Italia said, “I will take a pay cut if the club is struggling; it is honest to help. Football players are well-off and make a lot of money. It’s a shame you have to take a salary cut when you win the championship, but I’d consider it.”
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