APPIANO GENTILE – Sporting director Piero Ausilio was the man to speak at the last pre-match press conference of the 2013/14 season this afternoon. Among the topics discussed were of course contract renewals, the summer transfer window and the coming year, but he began by assessing the season that is about to come to a close.
"We're where we expected to be this year: our aim was to get back into Europe and we managed it with a game to spare. We're satisfied."
Mazzarri's contract was also placed on the agenda by the journalists present, with Ausilio asked how things stand at the moment regarding the a potential contract renewal for the coach. He smiled: "You'd have to ask him about that too. Perhaps he's been offered one and Mr Mazzarri has decided to think it over... There are lots of things to consider and plan when you discuss a renewal. I'm sure that when we sit down and lay everything out on the table Mazzarri will be happy to continue. We've already put forward the idea of extending his deal until 2016. The coach hasn't said no but he wants to think about it, about transfers, the backroom staff, expectations, players. We've started talking and I don't think it will take all that long. In any case, Mazzarri isn't someone who has any difficulty working with an expiring contract – not if it means finishing second and making history at Napoli as he did!
"Potential names to replace him? We haven't taken any into consideration, he will be Inter's coach next season whether he renews or not. In any case, we'd like to work towards an extension.
"The boos aimed at him before Inter v Lazio? I think in the end the boos turned to joy, with Inter in the Europa League."
From the coach to the players, and the first question was about Esteban Cambiasso. At this point Ausilio revealed that the Argentine will be leaving the club. "I talk to him every day, we're friends and there's mutual respect between us. This morning's meeting had a slightly more official air about it and we explained to him that as part of our strategy to freshen up the squad we won't be offering him a new deal. We've never spoken about money, he's never asked for anything in that sense. In any case I like to think that he's the sort of person who will come back to Inter in some shape or form one day.
"Are Inter worried about how to replace players like Cambiasso, Zanetti, Milito and Samuel? Yes, we are a bit worried because Inter's recent successes have been built around those players. Of course there's a bit of concern about having to replace them but as a football club you have to make choices – they might be unpopular and difficult but they have to be made. We want to start a new cycle.
"Zanetti, regardless of what specific functions he will carry out, will be part of Inter's management team and important for the club, someone everyone can look to.
"We spoke to Milito some time ago about what would happen at the end of the season. It won't be easy to replace those players but I'm sure that in our current squad we already have players who can come close to what these great footballers have done for us."
In amongst the crowd of journalists in the press room was Andrea Ranocchia. Quizzed about the defender, Ausilio explained: "He's important to us and we'd like to extend his contract. He can come up to my office upstairs and sign a new deal now if if wants."
What about Inter's youngsters out on loan at other clubs? Will any be bought back to the fold? "Yes, some of them will because they deserve to be a part of this club's history. We haven't gone into any specific names with the coach yet though. Overall we'll look to balance things in the coming transfer window by raising funds through player sales.
"Alvarez? He has two years left on his contract and we don't want to do without him. We've opened talks for a renewal but we haven't agreed on terms yet. That doesn't mean we won't though, there's still time.
"Who will take the captain's armband next season? Zanetti will wear it tomorrow and honestly I find it hard to imagine another captain. Ranocchia is a serious candidate because of his moral values and because he's Italian. We'll see."
On the subject of signings, Ausilio was asked specifically about Tom Ince and Nilton? "It's definitely not a done deal for Tom Ince. He's a young player with an expiring contract. Him coming to Inter is an intriguing possibility because his dad played here, but nothing's been agreed yet. We're waiting for him to give us an answer. As for Nilton, he's one of the players we're tracking, like many others. We're looking into it."
The sporting director then commented on the situations of Jonathan, Rolando and Campagnaro.
"Jonathan's contract runs until 2015 and we'll sit down with him for a chat over the coming days.
"As for Rolando, he's a player we want to keep hold of but we don't want to be held by the throat. It's not one of the easiest clubs to deal with but I think the player's and Inter's desire can bear a heavy influence.
"Problems with Campagnaro? He had a string of physical problems at a key point of the season, but he's perfectly integrated within the group and he has a great relationship with the coach. I think he'll play tomorrow then go off for the World Cup. We expect him back raring to go at the start of next season."
Is there any regret about Marko Livaja? "Yes, we do feel a sense of regret. Initially we thought he would come back to us after furthering his development at Atalanta but the sort of behaviour he showed ended up stifling his growth."
Finally, there were words of praise for Inter's youth set-up: "Our youth academy has been working well for years thanks to a well-knit group of people, we're very happy with the set-up."
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