Mancini: ‘Inter didn’t want Kovacic exit’

Roberto Mancini confirmed Inter are targeting the Scudetto, but “nobody wanted to sell Mateo Kovacic or Xherdan Shaqiri.”

Their season opener against Atalanta kicks off on Sunday at 19.45 UK time (18.45 GMT), click here for a match preview.

“When the season starts everyone aims for the maximum target. We are aware of our qualities, so it will depend on us and how we build up over time,” said Mancio when asked about their Scudetto credentials.

Roberto Mancini confirmed Inter are targeting the Scudetto, but “nobody wanted to sell Mateo Kovacic or Xherdan Shaqiri.”

Their season opener against Atalanta kicks off on Sunday at 19.45 UK time (18.45 GMT), click here for a match preview.

“When the season starts everyone aims for the maximum target. We are aware of our qualities, so it will depend on us and how we build up over time,” said Mancio when asked about their Scudetto credentials.

“We are Inter and therefore of course we have to start out with this target. I think the work we’ve done over the last few months will serve us in good stead.

“The campaign will only really take shape after eight or nine rounds, so it’s difficult to say now what could happen. We all start from 0 points and with the same ambitions.

“In my view, summer friendly results are not very important, as they are needed to improve fitness levels. Like everyone at this stage, I don’t think we are beyond 60 per cent fit.”

Mateo Kovacic and Xherdan Shaqiri left, but others are also on the market including Danilo D’Ambrosio, Davide Santon, Yuto Nagatomo and potentially Fredy Guarin.

“Our focus must be on Atalanta and then Carpi. The market being open will be irritating, but these are the rules and the papers like to talk about transfers, so we just have to deal with it.

“Everyone is at our disposal and some of them will certainly play tomorrow.”

Mancini was asked whether Hernanes had fully recovered and would start in the trequartista role, while the back four remains a mystery.

“Hernanes is doing well, we’ll decide the line-up after the last training session. We cannot blame defenders, as errors are never just one person, it’s something collective when you concede a goal. We have four centre-backs now and we’ll see who plays, but they need time to build a rapport.

“We tried to improve the team where we could and now we’ll see what happens. Some players only arrived in the last month, so it takes time to settle.

“I think we worked well over the summer and laid good foundations. There’s a lot more to do, but that will always be true.

“Many years ago I started constructing a team that in the end won everything. That is a process that takes time. I am content with what I feel the team can give this season.

“Over the summer I said we needed nine players, but that was a joke. It can be 10 or 11…” he laughed.

Kovacic was sold to Real Madrid for €35m, more or less how much Geoffrey Kondogbia cost.

“I think Kondogbia can become one of the best midfielders in the world. Nobody wanted to sell Mateo, but unfortunately there are considerations that go beyond the player. It happened because we had this Financial Fair Play issue and had to balance the books.

“The same was true of Xherdan Shaqiri. He had offers, we needed to get fresh funds and therefore he was sold. We believed in the player, but in the end we had to sacrifice him. He needed more time, as anyone does when going to a different League, so I wish him the best at Stoke City.

“We signed Shaqiri in January and believed in him, but if we find ourselves in a situation in July where Inter are forced to bring in money and the only offers are for Shaqiri, we have no alternatives. We can’t print money.

“With a heavy heart, we made this sale. It wasn’t a lack of planning, but he was the only option to sell and we have this agreement with UEFA to balance the books. At least we made the same money back that we paid for him.”

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