Inter head coach Antonio Conte has confirmed he turned down the chance to join Roma earlier this year.

Conte was linked to Roma before taking over at Inter and, ahead of a meeting between the two sides on Friday, revealed he held preliminary talks with the Giallorossi.

The move came in the off-season, before Conte knew of Inter's interest, but the former Chelsea boss decided the timing was not right.

Conte spoke to ex-Italy team-mate and Roma legend Francesco Totti about the position before Paulo Fonseca was appointed in June 2019.

Totti, who spent his entire playing career with Roma, was a director at the club until he resigned the same month as Fonseca was installed.

Conte told a news conference: "With Francesco, there is a long-standing friendship. He explained the situation to me and told me about the possibility of Roma.

"I made an assessment in a very calm manner and thought it was not the right time. 

"At that moment, however, an offer from Inter was not there. There were no other teams. I made my evaluation and I decided to decline the proposal in a very respectful manner. 

"I know it's a huge club, but it wasn't the time. Maybe in the future."

Conte has been impressed by the job Fonseca has done at Roma, who are fifth in the Serie A table and nine points behind leaders Inter.

"He is demonstrating his qualities after his time in Ukraine [with Shakhtar Donetsk]," Conte added.

"Here, you have to settle in, your opponents study you and prepare very well to stop you. He brought an idea and also used it in Serie A. 

"Roma deserve compliments. They have a competitive squad made up of experienced players and very good talents.

"They are in a great moment of form. Roma have a maturity, strength and knowledge which will force us to show them respect."

Meanwhile, Roma have been boosted by the availability of striker Edin Dzeko for the match.

The 33-year-old Bosnia international had been struggling with a bout of flu but will be in the squad that travels to Milan for the clash at San Siro.

Fonseca said: "He missed the last couple of sessions but Edin trained with the group today – he's fit to play."

Lautaro Martinez is delighted to be delivering success for Inter and says the arrivals of Antonio Conte, Romelu Lukaku and a new system have inspired his outstanding form.

Argentina international Martinez has scored 13 goals in 19 games across all competitions for the Nerazzurri this season, already trumping his tally of nine strikes in his debut 2018-19 campaign.

The 22-year-old's goals have fired Inter to the top of Serie A, a point clear of Juventus after 14 matches.

Martinez came into the campaign full of confidence after netting twice at the Copa America, yet he suggests life back at Inter would still have been tough had Luciano Spalletti remained at the helm, preferring a formation with a lone striker.

Instead, Spalletti and captain Mauro Icardi departed, seeing new coach Conte install a 3-5-2 line-up that brings the best out of both Martinez and Lukaku, who has 11 goals in 18 games.

"Last year, I played in a team with a coach who played with only one striker in attack," Martinez told Sky Sport Italia.

"I knew that in front of me there was the captain, Icardi, the most important player for Inter, and obviously it was very complicated for me to play.

"I always trained to the maximum, but I knew it was like that. I had the chance to play a few minutes but not like I would play now.

"This year, I had a great Copa America, then I met Conte, who works at high intensity and treats all players in the same way. This makes everyone train to the maximum.

"Then there is Romelu, who is a great person on and off the pitch. We are working hard to follow the coach's instructions and take Inter to the top."

Martinez has been linked with Barcelona and Manchester City in recent weeks but described his happiness at San Siro.

"Inter is my home. That's something very important for me," he said.

"I try to work hard and prove with humility on the pitch that I deserve to wear this shirt. I want to bring as much joy as possible to the Nerazzurri fans and my family."

Antonio Conte is proud of his Inter side after the Nerazzurri moved top of Serie A thanks to a hard-earned 2-1 win over struggling SPAL.

Two first-half goals from Lautaro Martinez put Inter in control at San Siro on Sunday, although Mattia Valoti's strike sparked a much-improved display from SPAL after the break.

Martinez squandered two chances to complete his hat-trick but Inter were not made to pay for their forward's profligacy as they took advantage of Juventus' earlier slip up against Sassuolo.

And Conte, who has erred on the side of caution whenever pressed on Inter's title chances so far this season, is delighted by how they have progressed under his leadership.

“We've been working since day one to make an impact and annoy the other teams," Conte told Sky Sport Italia.

"Being back on top of the table after 14 rounds makes us proud, because we know the journey we've been through to get here.

"At the same time, it should give us positive enthusiasm, push us to do even better and control the game without suffering to the end the way we did, because in those circumstances a cross or deflected shot can change everything.

"We were determined and knew Juventus had dropped points, so we were prepared to make the most of the situation.

"We deserved to beat SPAL and it's important to remember we are focused on our own growth process, which is in full swing, so we're not trying to compare ourselves with others."

Despite Martinez's frustrations at not adding to his goal tally in the second half, Conte hailed the all-round display of the forward, who has scored 13 times in all competitions so far this season.

"Lautaro – we call him Lauty – lives for goals, but I was very clear with him that the top strikers are the ones who work for the team," Conte said.

"The ones who track back in defence and seek each other out. Romelu Lukaku, for instance, didn't score today, but he was constantly involved."

Lautaro Martinez starred for Inter as his double helped Antonio Conte's side to a 2-1 victory over SPAL and moved the Nerazzurri top of Serie A.

With Juventus having drawn with Sassuolo in Sunday's early fixture, Inter knew a win at San Siro would be enough to leapfrog Maurizio Sarri's men, and they had too much for a struggling SPAL side who are now winless in seven matches.

Martinez spearheaded Inter's attack – picking out the bottom-left corner of Etrit Berisha's goal with supreme accuracy in the 16th minute before doubling his tally with a well-placed header prior to half-time.

Mattia Valoti struck to spark a rejuvenated SPAL performance after the break, yet – despite Martinez squandering two golden chances to round off a hat-trick – Inter held firm to claim top spot.

Romelu Lukaku broke through SPAL's line in the 11th minute, though Berisha did well to rush out and close the angle.

Berisha was beaten five minutes later, however – Martinez gliding forward before directing a low finish across SPAL's goalkeeper.

Lukaku and Marcelo Brozovic both went close as Inter kept up the pressure, but the hosts had their second four minutes before the break, Martinez guiding home Antonio Candreva's excellent first-time cross.

Against the run of play, SPAL pulled themselves back into contention early in the second half as Valoti carved through Inter's defence and slotted in off the left-hand upright.

Alessandro Murgia might have made it 2-2 had he connected well with a looped cross, while Martinez saw a close-range header saved by Berisha before he then failed to beat the goalkeeper when one-on-one soon after.

Matias Vecino's close-range miss buoyed SPAL's resolve, but Andrea Petagna failed to take advantage when the visitors' next chance came his way, while Jasmin Kurtic went close with a rasping long-range strike as Inter held onto the points.
 

What does it mean? Nerazzurri make most of Juventus off-day

Juve have long dominated Serie A, but in the form of Conte's Inter, the Old Lady seem to have serious title rivals this season.

Inter – now top by one point – have won 12 of their opening 14 Serie A matches in a season for the first time, while they have also become the fifth side to find the net in each of their first 14 league matches of a campaign in the 21st century, after Juve, Milan, Fiorentina and Roma.

In-form Martinez strikes early... again

Martinez needed no second invitation to open the scoring, though it is perhaps no surprise given his record of scoring early goals in Serie A this season. Overall, six of the striker's eight league strikes have come in drilling in the opening 30 minutes.

 

Sluggish second-half start a cause for concern

Inter were in cruise control heading into the break, but a stuttering start to the second half enabled SPAL to wrest their way back into the contest and, had the visitors possessed more quality in attack, Conte's team could easily have been made to pay.

What's next?

Inter welcome Roma to San Siro on Friday in Serie A, while SPAL's next outing comes against Lecce in the Coppa Italia on Wednesday.

Antonio Conte says Inter's run of just one defeat in nine matches has led to a "feel-good factor" at San Siro but he has warned his players against complacency ahead of their clash with struggling SPAL.

Inter are second in Serie A, one point behind leaders Juventus, as they prepare to face 19th-placed SPAL on Sunday, and Conte was in ebullient mood in his pre-match press conference.

The Nerazzurri returned to form in the Champions League by beating Slavia Prague 3-1 on Wednesday and victory at home against SPAL would extend Inter's Serie A winning streak to five matches.

Conte was asked how he intends to maintain his side's strong form in order to keep Inter's title challenge on course, and he called for everyone at the club to keep their feet on the ground.

"In the league and in Europe we are doing very well," Conte told reporters. "In Europe we have played with real pride. Even when we lost we gave a good performance.

"We have always played every game on level terms. In Europe the situation is in our hands again. That is very encouraging.

"I am very optimistic and pleased with the feel-good factor. However, we cannot get carried away and must stay grounded. We need to make sure we are realistic.

"We have lots of confidence and that should spur us on. Let's beat SPAL and keep going. I want to see the same spirit and desire. I want us to be hungry."

Martinez has already matched his league goal tally from last season by scoring six this term and Lukaku has endeared himself to Inter fans with 10 goals in 13 league appearances since his £75million transfer from Manchester United.

"Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku aren't the same strikers who started the season," said Conte.

"They are both atypical modern strikers, as they can be a centre-forward or a support striker, they work hard for their team-mates and are really developing an understanding with each other.

"They have grown a lot. They have come a long way since the start of the season. They have a good understanding. They are working very well and very hard.

"The goals are coming which is important. But the whole team play their part. I am attentive at both ends of the pitch. However, there is still lots of work to do."

Inter head coach Antonio Conte believes a capacity San Siro crowd can roar his side into the Champions League knockout phase after a thrilling late win over Slavia Prague.

Conte's men clinched a 3-1 win over Slavia on Wednesday to move up to second in Group F, ahead of third-placed Borussia Dortmund on head-to-head record.

Two goals from Lautaro Martinez and one from Romelu Lukaku secured the points for Inter, although they had to wait until late the final nine minutes of the game to seal the win.

Inter know victory over Barcelona – who have already qualified as group winners – in their final fixture on December 10, on home turf, will book their place in the last 16.

Conte told Sky Sport Italia: "The only way to stay alive and give a sense to the final fixture with Barcelona was to win and we did it. 

"We're pleased, as we wanted to be alive and kicking to the final game and that's the situation. Our fate is in our hands.

"Now it's going to be a tough match, but we can count on 70,000 people who will push us on at San Siro. We were much more of a team against Slavia."

Conte felt the blossoming strike partnership between Martinez and Lukaku was instrumental in the victory but believes the pair have not yet shown their full potential.

He added: "The strikers were decisive and I am very happy for them. They fought it out physically with the Slavia players, which they had struggled to do last time.

"We are talking about two players who are not yet complete. Lukaku has a lot of potential, he still needs to be encouraged. Lautaro is only 22 years old. 

"But after four months we see the difference. Players in general are stronger, they are growing clearly."

Martinez's brace took his tally to five goals in this season's Champions League as he scored for the fourth game in succession, while Lukaku's strike was his first in the competition for Inter.

Although he is leading the European goalscoring charts Martinez says neither he nor Lukaku are concerned with individual totals.

"I always say it doesn't matter who scores, as long as the team gets the goal and wins," he said.

"We work every day to help create that unity off the field and on it. Romelu is a great guy and we really get along, we both care more about the team than our own goals.

"We made a lot of progress since the Borussia Dortmund game, where we dominated the first half and fell away. 

"We're proving that we can have our say in this Champions League and believe we can reach the Round of 16.”

Inter coach Antonio Conte is confident a sustained improvement of the club's fortunes in Serie A will inspire a greater chance of success in Europe.

Since winning a Serie A and Champions League double in 2009-10 under Jose Mourinho, the club have failed to reclaim either prize, rarely even getting close.

The hiring of Conte has seen Inter take a step in the right direction, as they appear the only side capable of challenging the Serie A dominance of Juventus, who are chasing a ninth successive title.

Juve are a point clear of Inter at the summit after 13 matches, evidence of a marked improvement under Conte. But in the Champions League, life has been rather more difficult for the Nerazzurri.

Conte has often had to field criticism of his effectiveness in the Champions League and that is no different this term, having claimed just four points from as many games, though the coach is adamant improvement is within their grasp.

Speaking of Inter's Group F rivals to reporters on Tuesday ahead of the trip to Slavia Prague, Conte said: "Barca are LaLiga champions, they always go far in Europe. Dortmund are a top side, last year they made it hard for Bayern Munich [in the Bundesliga]. Slavia are, I think, 11 points clear - these sides are all winners, so that makes it very hard for us.

"But we know that in Serie A there are challenges. We have started our growth and development.

"By doing well in Serie A, we will then do well in Europe. We are at the start of our journey as a side, but we want to keep getting better.

"We want to stay in the competition, we want to progress. Experience for us at this level is important.

"We are always working hard. As of day one in pre-season, we have a clear identity as a side, everyone in the squad is pulling in the right direction.

"We will not change our idea, regardless of injuries. Everyone in the squad knows what I want. Each player is important to me. I have lots of faith in my players."

Inter head into Wednesday's game three points adrift of second-placed Borussia Dortmund, meaning failure to win could result in their elimination from the competition.

And while some might predict a straightforward win in Prague, Slavia proved in their draws against Inter and Barcelona they are capable of causing problems.

"Slavia made life hard for Dortmund and Barcelona, we found it hard in the San Siro meeting, but there is lots of motivation in the camp," Conte added.

"We are getting better all the time. We arrive here with confidence. We are more of a team now than in the first meeting.

"We are ready for this game. The result is important. The result is a consequence of the performance.

"If we play well then the result is usually good, so we focus on putting in a good performance. Our growth comes with good displays. I want us to be strong at both ends of the pitch."

Inter midfielder Nicolo Barella will undergo surgery to remove a fragment of cartilage in his knee, the Serie A club have confirmed.

Barella was withdrawn on the stroke of half-time in Saturday's 3-0 win over Torino and visibly indicated his pain to medical staff.

In a statement on their official website, Inter revealed the 22-year-old has damaged a fragment of cartilage in his knee, which will require surgery to be removed. No timescale has been put on how long he will be out of action for. 

Speaking after the game, Inter boss Antonio Conte said: "I really hope Barella doesn't have anything particularly serious.

"Barella has grown exponentially over the last four months. He is a very important player for us and we can only hope the test results are not too bad. He's a warrior and I hope he's back on the pitch soon."

Barella has made 17 appearances across all competitions so far this season, scoring twice.

Inter boss Antonio Conte was praying for good news on the fitness of Nicolo Barella after the midfielder's knee injury was the lone negative in an impressive 3-0 Serie A win at Torino.

Barella, who scored the dramatic winner against Hellas Verona prior to the international break, had to be withdrawn on the stroke of half-time on Saturday and visibly indicated his pain to medical staff.

Inter confirmed the 22-year-old had suffered "a right knee sprain which will be assessed in the coming days" and Conte is hoping the setback will not be serious.

He is already without a host of players including Stefano Sensi, Roberto Gagliardini, Matteo Politano, Alexis Sanchez and Kwadwo Asamoah.

Former Chelsea and Italy boss Conte voiced concerns over the size of his squad after the Champions League loss to Borussia Dortmund earlier this month and does not want another absentee.

"I really hope Barella doesn’t have anything particularly serious," Conte said to DAZN after goals from Lautaro Martinez, Stefan de Vrij and Romelu Lukaku saw off Torino and brought Inter back to within a point of leaders Juventus.

"Barella has grown exponentially over the last four months. He is a very important player for us and we can only hope the test results are not too bad. He's a warrior and I hope he's back on the pitch soon.

"The emergency situation unfortunately continues but we can only thank our players for all their efforts, and we will continue to give more than our best.

"The players are really sacrificing themselves and can see the fruits of their labour. They have spent hours on the pitch and in the video room."

Conte had bizarrely advised his players on their sex lives ahead of the game at Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino.

Rather than revisiting that topic, it was Inter's clean sheet that he discussed after the convincing victory.

"I'm especially happy for the players who are getting big results, but the thing that makes me happiest is not conceding," Conte added.

"It was a good defensive performance and that is very important because we know that if we can be tight at the back then we are in good shape as we will score sooner or later."

The 11 wins from 13 league matches to start a campaign equals Inter's best sequence, previously achieved in 1950-51, while they have also recorded victories in their first seven away top-flight games for the first time.

Inter moved back to within a point of Serie A leaders Juventus with a comprehensive 3-0 away win over Torino.

After kick-off was briefly delayed to allow for water to be swept from the pitch amid heavy rain, Lautaro Martinez scored his eighth goal of the season in the 12th minute.

Twenty minutes later, Stefan de Vrij's first strike of 2019-20 had Inter two ahead and Romelu Lukaku scored his 10th Serie A goal of the campaign after the break to wrap up the points.

In-form Lukaku is the first Inter player to score 10 goals in the first 13 matchdays of a debut Serie A season since Stefano Nyers in 1948-49.

It was a frustrating start for Torino, who lost influential captain Andrea Belotti to injury and fell behind before they could bring on Simone Zaza as his replacement.

They were caught out by Matias Vecino's header which allowed Martinez to race clear and find the bottom corner with a right-footed finish.

Simone Verdi fired narrowly wide at the other end, but Salvatore Sirigu had to produce an excellent save from Lukaku's powerful header and Inter doubled their lead from the resulting corner, Cristiano Biraghi's in-swinging cross from the right tapped in by an unmarked De Vrij at the back post.

A magnificent stop from Samir Handanovic in first-half stoppage time preserved Inter's two-goal advantage, the goalkeeper diving to claw away Verdi's deflected cross.

The visitors lost Nicolo Barella to an injury of their own and were relieved when Armando Izzo sent a good headed chance off target just after the break.

Inter made sure of victory after 55 minutes, though, Lukaku's right-footed effort going through the legs of Bremer and beating Sirigu after he had been found by Marcelo Brozovic.

Handanovic was at his best once more to tip away Verdi's free-kick but a home fightback never looked likely in the latter stages.

 

What does it mean? Inter make light work of Torino test

After Juventus had battled back late on to earn a win away to Atalanta earlier on Saturday, this fixture and the difficult playing conditions presented a potential obstacle for Inter.

The Nerazzurri had not won in five league meetings against Torino, but they negotiated the challenge comfortably to remain right behind Juve at the top.

Brozovic brilliant for Inter

Brozovic had an excellent performance, creating five chances for his team-mates including Lukaku's goal, while he had more passes and touches than anyone else in Antonio Conte's side as he constantly looked to get involved.

Torino defence found wanting

Torino have only won once in eight league matches and their early defending here gave them little chance of getting back on form.

The backline was completely caught out when Sirigu's clearance was headed back towards them by Vecino for the opener, while the second goal saw a quick corner surprise them, with Biraghi given time to deliver his cross and no defender in the vicinity of goalscorer De Vrij.

What's next?

Inter will look to build on this result when they are away to Slavia Prague in the Champions League on Wednesday, before a home league game against SPAL on Sunday. Torino are away against Genoa on Saturday.

Antonio Conte has revealed he advises his Inter players on how to have sex during the football season in order to maximise their on-field performance.

The 50-year-old, who won the Premier League title with Chelsea in 2017 and three Serie A titles with Juventus, took over as Inter boss in May.

Inter have made an impressive start to the campaign, winning 10 of their opening 12 league matches to leave themselves a point adrift of leaders Juventus.

A part of their success could be down to the bizarre off-field demands of Conte, the Italian coach admitting he urges his players not to over-exert themselves in the bedroom.

"During the season, I advise my players to have sex for short periods and with the minimum of effort," he told L'Equipe. 

"And preferably with their wives, because if with others, well, that needs extra action."

Inter are back in action on Saturday after a two-week break with a trip to Torino, who ended a six-game winless run last time out.

Conte confirmed at Friday's pre-match news conference that Stefano Sensi, Roberto Gagliardini and Kwadwo Asamoah are still injured, but Danilo D'Ambrosio is back in contention.

"When there is a break it is difficult to prepare for games," he told reporters. "Yesterday I welcomed back all the players who were away with their national teams.

"Sensi, Gagliardini and Asamoah are unavailable. Sensi missed last month and has had a few problems. We are trying to get him back to his best condition so that he can help the group when back.

"D'Ambrosio has recovered and must now get back to his best. He is a very versatile player, a joker in the pack that can be used in the centre and out wide. It's very important to have players like him to count on."

Lukaku is expected to lead the line for Inter in Turin and Conte is happy with the Belgium international, despite him firing blanks in back-to-back games before the two-week break.

"He is very important to us, as is Lautaro [Martinez]," Conte added. "Both players are doing very well - there is little else more to say.

"They are both doing great work for the team and I am very happy. I hope they can continue in the same way."

Jose Mourinho has proven a successful, and controversial figure, during his long managerial career.

Trophies have been plentiful, as have confrontations with rival managers.

There have been clashes in Italy, Spain and England as the former Porto, Chelsea, Inter, Real Madrid and Manchester United has made waves throughout Europe.

Here, we look back at five of Mourinho's most heated moments.


"Demenza senile"

Premier League managers having a go at each other is nothing new, but it felt like Antonio Conte and Mourinho crossed a line in the 2017-18 season. Mourinho appeared to implicate Conte when he suggested counterparts act like "clowns" on the touchline, with the Italian often running into the crowd to celebrate Chelsea goals.

From there, the row quickly escalated. Conte hit back, suggesting Mourinho was suffering from "demenza senile", which translates as senile dementia. Mourinho famously ran down the touchline at Old Trafford when Porto scored a key Champions League winner, but Conte had gone too far and Chelsea quickly clarified that he meant "amnesia".

Having successfully provoked Conte, Mourinho blamed the media for the whole affair and referenced match-fixing allegations made against Siena during Conte's time in charge. The former Italy boss served a ban but was later cleared of any wrongdoing. 

Conte then called Mourinho a "little man" and suggested he would seek to meet his rival "in a room" to sort out their difficulties.

Poking Tito Vilanova in the eye

It was assumed that Pep Guardiola and Mourinho would renew their old rivalry when the pair were appointed by Manchester City and United respectively in 2016, but the row never boiled over.

The closest they have come to fireworks was a clash in the Old Trafford tunnel following City's 2-1 win in the Manchester derby in December 2017. Mourinho allegedly went to the away dressing room to complain over the volume of City's celebrations, only for a melee to ensue. Guardiola was not present at the time and Mourinho later blamed a "diversity in education" between the two Manchester squads for the fracas.

Mourinho and Guardiola go way back, with the Portuguese believing he should have been appointed by Barcelona before they moved for their former player. Later, while in charge of Real Madrid, Mourinho saw his side thrashed 5-0 at Camp Nou, while he was sent off for gouging the eye of Guardiola's assistant, Tito Vilanova, during the 2011 Supercopa de Espana. Mourinho also suggested Guardiola's Barcelona won the 2010-11 Champions League by virtue of generous refereeing.

Wenger a 'specialist in failure'

That Mourinho seemingly lost interest in rowing with former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was probably a sign of how far the Gunners eventually fell under the veteran Frenchman. Mourinho no longer saw Wenger as a rival. It was not always the case, though, as Wenger was the subject of one of the 56-year-old's most famous rants, when he called the Arsenal manager a "specialist in failure".

Mourinho's Chelsea were a point clear of the Gunners atop the Premier League table in February 2014 when the Portuguese hit out at a long trophy-less wait for the Gunners. "If I do that in Chelsea, eight years, I leave and don't come back," Mourinho said.

Back in 2005, Wenger was called a "voyeur" by Mourinho. "He likes to watch other people," he said. "There are some guys who, when they are at home, have a big telescope to see what happens in other families. He speaks, speaks, speaks about Chelsea."

"I don't want to win the Europa League"

Mourinho has often had a problem with managers who succeeded him at clubs, with Rafael Benitez drawing his ire on multiple occasions. 

After Mourinho left Inter, Benitez took over and claimed the Club World Cup with the Serie A side. "I thought he was going to thank me for the title I gave him," said the ex-Porto boss.

Benitez took charge of Chelsea briefly between Mourinho's two spells at Stamford Bridge, leading the Blues to Europa League glory. "I don't want to win the Europa League," Mourinho said. "It would be a big disappointment for me."

Mourinho had obviously changed his tune by 2017, when winning the Europa League earned Manchester United a route into the Champions League.

Parking the bus

At United, Mourinho's team were often accused of 'parking the bus', which is ironic as he is credited with introducing the phrase to English football.

After a 0-0 draw against Tottenham in 2004 during his first Chelsea spell, Mourinho said: "As we say in Portugal, they brought the bus and they left the bus in front of the goal."

And after Inter knocked out Barca on the way to the Champions League title in 2010, Mourinho extended the metaphor further.

"We won the tie in Barcelona, but everyone talks about Barcelona winning and says we parked the bus in front of the goal," said Mourinho. "We didn't park the bus, we parked the plane."

Inter received a letter containing threats against head coach Antonio Conte and have informed the relevant authorities, the club confirmed in a widely distributed statement.

Reports claimed the letter, which arrived at Inter's headquarters in Milan, contained a bullet along with references to the former Chelsea boss.

Inter are second in Serie A following a five-game unbeaten run, including victories in their last three league matches.

The club's statement contradicted some reports that indicated the letter was sent directly to Conte.

"In relation to the news published today, Antonio Conte has not personally received any threatening letter," the statement said.

"Consequently, he did not go in person to file a complaint.

"It was the club that received a letter and, as per the practice in this kind of situation, proceeded to contact the competent authorities."

Inter's next fixture sees them travel to Torino for a Serie A clash on November 23.

Inter have a fight on their hands to retain the services of star forward Lautaro Martinez.

Martinez has been heavily linked to LaLiga champions Barcelona as they search for Luis Suarez's long-term replacement.

But Manchester City and United are both reportedly interested in the Argentina international.

 

TOP STORY – CITY & UNITED TARGET MARTINEZ

Manchester City and Premier League neighbours United want to sign Inter star Martinez, according to The Mirror.

Martinez – who is only in his second season in Milan after joining from Racing Club in 2018 – has flourished this term with eight goals across all competitions for Antonio Conte's Inter.

LaLiga champions Barcelona have been linked, while the two Manchester clubs are also reportedly targeting the 22-year-old forward.

 

ROUND-UP

- Unhappy at Barcelona, Ivan Rakitic could remain in LaLiga. The Croatia international has attracted interest from the likes of Inter, United and Paris Saint-Germain in his pursuit of more game time. However, Movistar+ claims Atletico Madrid are willing to meet Barca's €40million valuation of Rakitic. Marca adds that Atletico do not plan to replace Diego Costa due to salary constraints.

- The Mirror says Arsenal scouted Leicester City defender Caglar Soyuncu during Turkey's Euro 2020 qualifier against Iceland on Thursday. Soyuncu moved to Leicester from Freiburg in 2018 and the 23-year-old has stepped up to fill the void left by Harry Maguire, who joined United in a world-record deal.

- Zlatan Ibrahimovic out and Edinson Cavani in for LA Galaxy? According to Gianluca Di Marzio, MLS side the Galaxy are targeting Paris Saint-Germain's Cavani following Ibrahimovic's exit. The Uruguay forward is out of contract at the end of the season and has been linked to David Beckham's Inter Miami franchise, who will open their inaugural season against the Galaxy next year.

Inter will need to fork out €30m if they want to sign Udinese's Rodrigo de Paul in January, reports Calciomercato. The Express also reports that Inter are ready to offer out-of-favour Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud an 18-month contract. Conte is determined to add depth up front, with Martinez and Romelu Lukaku leading the way in the absence of injured loanee Alexis Sanchez.

- Corriere dello Sport claims Roma have joined the chase for Everton forward Moise Kean. The 19-year-old has struggled since moving to the Premier League from Juventus, and the likes of Sampdoria and AC Milan are lining up to bring the teenager back to Serie A on loan.

Inter CEO Giuseppe Marotta insisted head coach Antonio Conte and the club "share common objectives" as the Nerazzurri look to strengthen their squad in January.

Conte hit out at Inter's management over his squad following Tuesday's 3-2 Champions League defeat to Borussia Dortmund, accusing the Serie A side of failing to plan sufficiently for the season ahead.

Inter signed club-record recruit Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez, Stefano Sensi, Nicolo Barella, Diego Godin and Valentino Lazaro for the 2019-20 campaign, but Conte wanted more in his bid to overhaul Serie A champions Juventus.

Barcelona pair Ivan Rakitic and Arturo Vidal have both been linked to Inter, as well as out-of-favour Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic.

Asked about Conte and his relationship with Inter prior to Saturday's 2-1 Serie A win over Hellas Verona, Marotta – who worked alongside the Italian boss at Juve – told Sky Sport Italia: "I know Antonio very well, he is very severe and demanding. His culture of victory is very strong and he has his own special way of communicating.

"We share the desire to seek excellence and victory. That is going to be a gradual process, so we are aligned with the desire to improve the squad in the January transfer window, where we'll look at every opportunity. We agree with Conte's requests for a strengthening of mentality and are all on the same page."

Marotta added: "Experience tells me the January transfer market tends to be fairly quiet. We agree with our coach that we'll see what opportunities there are.

"We have a strong club, an excellent coach and he is very transparent when dealing with everyone. We share common objectives.

"We are looking for a player with experience, but not at the end of his career. We want to create a good mix of experience and youth. What we lack somewhat at the moment is many players with Champions League experience, so we want to keep raising the bar, making this a more competitive side with players who fit the profiles that the coach is looking for.

"To be honest, I did not expect to be just one point off Juventus at this stage of the season. We aim to raise the bar constantly, that is the desire of the club, the coach, the players and the fans."

Inter bounced back from their Champions League collapse by rallying past Verona at San Siro, where Conte's team emerged triumphant thanks to Barella's stunning 83rd-minute winner.

Matias Vecino had cancelled out Valerio Verre's 19th-minute penalty before Barella produced a moment of magic in Milan to move Inter two points clear of Juve – who are due to face AC Milan on Sunday.

"Look, to be honest after four months we must be proud looking at the table," Conte told reporters. "All we, players, staff, all who works for Inter must be.

"31 points after 12 matches are important. But, the guys have been great, even in the Champions League. We proved we are able to look in the eyes of important teams like Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund. We have to make many steps more to improve our experience. We worked a lot in these four months."

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