The Reasons Behind The Antonio Conte Turnaround At Inter

After a crunch meeting with Inter president Steven Zhang, the expected departure of Antonio Conte from the club was suddenly canceled (or at least delayed), as the former Juventus and Chelsea boss will remain at the helm of Inter’s technical staff for the 2020-2021 season.

On Tuesday morning, Italy’s Milan-based newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport described the meeting that would take place later on that day between the president and the manager of the Nerazzurri as “Mediation or Revolution.” The vast majority if not all of the Italian sources were heavily leaning towards the latter solution and even proclaimed Massimiliano Allegri as the heir-apparent to the black-and-blue throne.

And yet, somehow, “Mediation“ won the day, as Italian journalists rushed to report the news that they weren’t expecting to hear. Max Allegri will have to wait, King Antonio “still lives.“

Despite the former Italy coach’s outburst at the end of the Serie A season that included some definitely hard-to-swallow accusations towards the management of Inter, as well several setbacks during the season which ended without any silverware, the two sides were able to put their differences aside and agreed on trying to repair their so-far dysfunctional marriage.

So what are the reasons behind this sudden turnaround?

While the exact cause is still unclear at the moment, here are several potential reasons that could include the truth:

Conte Refuses To Fail at Inter

Had Antonio Conte left Inter without winning a single title, then for the first time in his career his stint at a major European club would have been considered a failure.

Despite not being able to win the domestic league at the first attempt as he did in his Juventus and Chelsea tenures, delivering the Scudetto next season would more than make-up for this season’s shortcomings.

After finishing last season in second place just behind Juventus, both the Inter hierarchy and Conte can smell blood as their arch-rivals are going through a risky revolution led by their new unexperienced coach Andrea Pirlo, and both sides would agree that a united Inter front would be more likely to bring the crown back to the black-and-blue side of Milano.

Next season, Conte will attempt to finish what he already started, and the Lecce native certainly won’t allow Max Allegri to reap what he sowed himself yet again. 

The Financial and Contractual Details

Italian sources confirmed the presence of the club’s main lawyers in the meeting, so the contract termination option was surely on the table.

Although the early termination of a contract between a club and a manager is a common occurrence, it’s usually based on the club’s will and not the manager’s, as the latter ends up leaving with a “golden handshake.”

While the Suning Group may no longer be too fond of Antonio Conte as a person, his abilities as a manager were never doubted by the club and it was rather the coach who was trying to find a way out from Inter. 

We don’t have a copy of the coach’s contract, but if the board decided to refuse a mutual contract resolution, then a unilateral termination from Conte’s side would have probably led to another legal battle for the manager – forcing him to pay a certain penalty for breaching his contractual obligations due to the early termination.

Thus, Conte has probably taken a wise decision for once, putting his infamous fury in check and listening to the voice of reason. 

The Lack of Alternatives for Conte After Inter

If we take a quick look around the top European clubs we notice that all their managers are already confirmed for next season, with possibly the only exception being Paris Saint-Germain who could end up sacking Thomas Tuchel.

And even if there were more appealing vacancies, one has to wonder if Antonio Conte is still one of the most sought-after managers in world football as he was a few years ago.

Noting how almost all of his tenures ended much earlier and uglier than expected, most top clubs would avoid hiring the current Inter boss just to prevent the same from happening again.

Probably for the first time since his Juventus stint, Conte would have found himself short of options, and spending another sabbatical year is off the table for the ultra-active coach. 

The Zhang Effect 

Antonio Conte and CEO Giuseppe Marotta might just be the oddest couple in Italian football. After securing Juventus’ first post-calciopoli title, the two men could be seen ecstatically hugging one another in Trieste.

But not long after their initial triumph, the pair’s relationship deteriorated – probably due to arguments related to the transfer market. After different twists, they were somehow reunited at Inter, having to work together yet again in an attempt to kill their first child, the Juventus dynasty.

While Marotta apparently succeeded in delivering a solid squad that is also suitable to Conte’s favorite formation (3-5-2), the two men just didn’t seem to have properly reconciled just yet – which could have led to some of Conte’s infamous stingy comments.

Enter Steven Zhang.

The young president met face to face with his coach, and this meeting was enough to convince the latter to remain at the club, which could suggest that the Chinese was able to succeed (at least temporarily) where Juventus president Andrea Agnelli failed, by “forcing“ his two main generals to work together properly for the benefit of the team. 

The Messi Bombshell 

On the same day of the meeting, quasi-official reports coming out of Barcelona claim that captain Leo Messi has officially asked to leave the club.

There’s no denying that the Nerazzurri are among the most interested clubs in signing the six-time Ballon d’Or winner.

So could the promise of securing Messi be the key reason behind Conte’s turnaround? Or it had more to do with another reason mentioned above? Or maybe there’s a completely different cause that is still currently unknown?

One thing is for sure, the coming days or weeks will provide at least some answers to our questions.