Antonio Conte insisted he is "not a political person" though recognised he is not "particularly diplomatic" as the Inter head coach tried to draw a line under his criticism of the Nerazzurri.

Doubts circulated over the future of Conte at San Siro after he delivered a withering assessment of the "little protection" he felt his Inter side received amid question marks over performances of the Serie A team.

That led to speculation Conte's tenure could come to end after just a solitary season, with Massimiliano Allegri and Mauricio Pochettino emerging as reported targets to take over.

Conte later preached unity, though, and has engineered Inter's route to the Europa League final, which included a 5-0 battering of Shakhtar Donetsk in the last four on Monday.

Inter president Steven Zhang flew into Germany to be with the Serie A runners-up and Conte was asked if the situation has now been resolved.

"I don't feel like going back over certain situations. I felt some things at the time and felt the need to say it," he told Sky Sport Italia. 

"What I say is always aimed at being constructive. The media likes to emphasise some situations more than others, but at the same time, I know we have to go through certain steps to become what Inter want to be in future.

"I am not a political person. I stick to facts and action, not being particularly diplomatic, but I try to be constructive and not to offend anyone."

Inter face Sevilla in Friday's final in Cologne as they aim to win a first trophy since 2011.

Inter will set out to "amaze" in the Europa League final against Sevilla, Antonio Conte has vowed.

Doubles from Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku helped Inter to a 5-0 triumph over Shakhtar Donetsk in Monday's semi-final, setting up a date with five-time winners Sevilla on Friday.

While Sevilla snatched a win against Manchester United, Conte's side look full of verve going forward, and the former Chelsea coach insists his team are in the mood to entertain as well as win.

"It's satisfying for everyone. The most important thing for me is that many lads are playing this type of game for the first time," Conte told Sky Italia. 

"They are gaining experience at an important level in a tournament that Italy have not been protagonists in for a long time.

"Sevilla have a great deal of experience, I think they won it four times in the last six or seven years. However, we have enthusiasm, hunger and the desire to amaze people.

"Now we need to rest, recuperate and try to give some joy to the Inter fans, who I think will be proud of these lads, because they are giving their heart and soul.

"As I always said, we have to leave the field with no regrets. We must know that we've given our all, done everything we possibly could, so if we do lose, it's because the opponents were better."

It is the first time Inter have reached a European final since 2010, when they defeated Bayern Munich to claim the Champions League crown.

"The work we did throughout the year, including the post-lockdown period, finally paid off," Conte said.

"The lads knew, I genuinely believed we could be protagonists at the end of the season and in the various cup competitions.

"I think we've been unlucky in the Champions League and Coppa Italia, as we deserved more. We had some unjustifiable slip-ups in Serie A.

"However, I believe you learn more from negative situations than positive ones. We learned, used those lessons, and you can see the progress. At the end of it all, we finished Serie A one point off Juventus, and superior to them in many statistics.

"We wanted to be protagonists in the Europa League, we're in the Final, so let's enjoy that and then think about Sevilla."

Antonio Conte vowed Inter should not be portrayed as Italy's footballing "saviours" as they battle for Europa League glory. 

A semi-final against Shakhtar Donetsk awaits coach Conte and his team on Monday in Dusseldorf, with the prospect of ending the season with silverware. 

Attentions have turned to Inter at home after Juventus fell to Lyon and Napoli lost to Barcelona in the Champions League last-16, while Atalanta bowed out to Paris Saint-Germain in the quarter-finals of the same competition. 

The Nerazzurri represent Italy's last hope for a European trophy this season, but Conte dismissed the notion they are playing for the nation. 

The former Italy and Juventus boss said in a news conference on Sunday: "We don't consider ourselves the saviours of the country, we've made our journey without looking at the others. 

"Our goal is to improve ourselves. Personally, if we achieved a European success I would be happy for the club, not for myself. I'm not thinking about my personal record but about the club that decided to hire me." 

Conte looks set to have to cope without the injured Alexis Sanchez, with the Chilean battling to recover from a hamstring injury. 

"Sanchez has been out for three quarters of the season," Conte said. "Now we realise what kind of weapon we are missing. It is normal that not having him available is disappointing for me and denies me a fundamental element."

At least Inter should have Romelu Lukaku available, with the former Everton and Manchester United striker having scored in his last nine matches in this competition. 

That run began in 2014, in his Everton days, and Lukaku is the first player to have strung together such a run either in the Europa League or its forerunner, the UEFA Cup. 

He has been involved in 15 goals during that sequence, scoring 12 times and having three assists. 

Inter are through to the semi-finals of a European competition for the first time since they won the Champions League in the 2009-10 campaign, but Conte is taking nothing for granted about going any further. 

He described Shakhtar as "a team full of talented players", saying Inter would show them "great respect". 

Conte closed down questioning about Inter's transfer plans. 

Club president Steven Zhang has big ambitions for the club, with even Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi linked to Inter recently. 

"At this time it is inappropriate to talk about the transfer market and other players," Conte said. 

"We are playing the season finale and I can only thank my squad for what they've done during the season and after lockdown, they have been commendable."

Antonio Conte hailed Romelu Lukaku after another superb individual display in the Europa League quarter-finals, but insisted the forward's success is also down to his Inter team-mates.

Lukaku scored what proved to be the winner as Inter set up a Europa League semi-final against either Shakhtar Donetsk or Basel thanks to Monday's 2-1 triumph over Bayer Leverkusen.

Nicolo Barella – having latched onto the rebound from a blocked Lukaku shot – opened the scoring, with Inter's star Belgian doubling their lead prior to Kai Havertz pulling one goal back for Leverkusen.

Lukaku could have scored a hat-trick, had referee Carlos del Cerro Grande not overturned two penalties after consulting with VAR.

But while lauding Lukaku, who became the first player to score in nine successive Europa League matches and has netted 29 times in all competitions this season, Conte affirmed that he would be nothing without the team supporting him.

"It's difficult to talk about individuals when you have such a great team performance," Inter head coach Conte told Sky Italia.

"Romelu is having an excellent season, supported by the team, who put everyone in a position to express themselves at their best on an individual level too.

"I'm happy for him, as he deserves all of this success, but Romelu must also thank the team for putting him in the conditions to express himself in the best form of his entire career."

Though Conte conceded his team's finishing should have been more clinical, he had little complaints as Inter headed to within 90 minutes of reaching their first European final since 2010.

"We are very satisfied, because it was a very good performance," said Conte, whose Inter finished second and just a point behind Juventus in Serie A.

"As I always end up saying, we could've killed the game off earlier and relaxed a little. We didn't allow many chances at all, but the fact is we had so many chances and should've scored more than two.

"The lads showed how hungry they were, how determined to prove that what they're doing is important. We've got an opportunity to play a Europa League semi-final. We want to achieve the maximum. We want to go all the way."

One player who may not be fit to feature for Inter in the semi-final is Alexis Sanchez, who sustained a muscle strain in his right leg.

Antonio Conte is eager for Inter to "give everything" in the last eight of the Europa League, even if only to ensure they have no regrets should they be beaten.

The Nerazzurri have advanced to the quarter-finals, where they will face Bayer Leverkusen on Monday in their first match of an eight-team finals tournament in Germany.

Inter have long been among the favourites to win Europe's secondary club competition and got past Getafe in the last 16.

But while Conte is optimistic heading into the Leverkusen game, he suggests Inter could still go away content if they performed to the best of their ability and fell short.

"We must be positive," Conte told a pre-match news conference on Sunday. "We work hard to achieve the goal, which must be the maximum possible.

"To get from here to the end, we will have to prove it on the pitch. We cannot have complaints. We will have to give everything.

"If it is enough to get to the semi-finals, or the final, or to raise the cup, we will all be happy - or we will go out where it is right to go out but without having complaints."

The coach acknowledged a tough schedule had taken its toll on his side, but Inter are still raring to go.

"We come from playing many games in a row in harsh weather conditions," he said. "But there is enthusiasm and desire to face this challenge and go to the semi-finals.

"I think we are all trying to work to bring Inter back to where they belong, to be a team who are capable of winning trophies."

However, to get past Leverkusen, Inter will have to find a way to stop Kai Havertz, the talismanic forward who has been heavily linked with Chelsea.

"Havertz is a player who has great qualities," said former Chelsea coach Conte.

"He has great technique and has what it takes to have a great career, but we hope he won't show it tomorrow."

Andrea Pirlo described his pride at being named Juventus head coach as he made his first public comments since Saturday's shock appointment.

Serie A champions Juve moved swiftly after they were knocked out of the Champions League by Lyon in the last 16 on Friday.

Coach Maurizio Sarri was sacked the following day, with Pirlo - only recently named their Under-23s boss - promoted as his replacement on a two-year deal.

The World Cup winner took to social media on Sunday and said: "I'm deeply pleased and honoured to receive such respect and trust from Juventus.

"Ready for this amazing opportunity!"

Pirlo is now set to become a rival to Inter's Antonio Conte, his former coach at Juve and Italy.

Conte welcomed the news as he faced the media ahead of Inter's Europa League quarter-final against Bayer Leverkusen.

"I'm certainly very happy for Andrea," said Conte, whose Nerazzurri finished a point behind Juve in Serie A.

"Besides what he gave me at a football level, we are talking about an exceptional person.

"What I think if there are players who I previously coached and are now coaching is that it means that I'm getting old!"

Juventus' elimination from the Champions League spelled the end for Maurizio Sarri and the start of a new era under Andrea Pirlo.

Despite leading the Bianconeri to a ninth straight Scudetto in 2019-20, Sarri was fired after Juve crashed out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage to Lyon on Friday.

Pirlo was at the heart of Juve's brilliant midfield during the start of their Serie A dominance, winning four Scudetti, the Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa Italiana twice during a four-year stint that ended when he moved to New York City in 2015.

A week after returning to Juve as their Under-23 boss, Pirlo was handed the reins of the first team ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.

He is not the first club legend to go back and manage a team they played for, though, and we have taken a look at the biggest successes and failures.

HITS

Pep Guardiola

After leaving Barcelona as a player in 2001, Guardiola returned as the Barca B boss in 2007 before being promoted to head coach of the first team a year later. Over four years in charge at Camp Nou he led the Blaugrana to 14 trophies, including three LaLiga titles and two Champions League crowns. Success has continued to come Guardiola's way with Bayern Munich and Manchester City.

Zinedine Zidane

World Cup winner Zidane was part of Real Madrid's 'Galacticos' in the early 2000s and he finished his playing career at the Santiago Bernabeu. Like Guardiola, he returned to oversee the second team before stepping up to the top job after the departure of Rafael Benitez in January 2016. Zidane went on to win an unprecedented three successive Champions League titles with Madrid before stepping away in May 2018, only to return 10 months later. He has already won LaLiga and the Supercopa de Espana in his second stint.

Antonio Conte

In 13 seasons as a player for Juventus, Conte won almost everything there is to win – five league titles, the Coppa Italia, the Champions League and the UEFA Cup. He moved into management two years after retiring and worked his way back to Juve after spells with Arezzo, Bari, Atalanta and Siena. Juve won three straight Scudetti under Conte – the start of their ongoing dominance – before he accepted the Italy job in 2014. Pirlo will have to get the better of his former coach Conte, now at Inter, if he is to maintain the Bianconeri's run of titles.

Roberto Di Matteo

Di Matteo accepted the top job at Chelsea in 2012, having previously been assistant to Andre Villas-Boas. Di Matteo – who won the FA Cup twice with the Blues as a player – went on to lift two trophies as Chelsea boss, including their first Champions League title with a penalty shoot-out win over Bayern Munich, but he was discarded early in the following season.

MISSES

Alan Shearer

Record Premier League goalscorer, Newcastle United legend and lethal England striker – Shearer's playing career was full of success. When he retired in 2006, Shearer moved into television as a pundit, but when the Magpies came calling in 2009 he stepped in to try and save them from relegation. Sadly for Shearer he was unsuccessful, his eight-game reign ending in Newcastle slipping out of the top flight after a 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa on the final day.

Filippo Inzaghi

Employing former players as head coaches had previously worked well for Milan – Fabio Capello and Carlo Ancelotti proving particularly successful. When the Rossoneri turned to Inzaghi in 2014 after Clarence Seedorf's brief tenure, the move was therefore no surprise. However, the former striker – who won eight major trophies at the club in his playing days – flopped, winning just 14 of his 40 matches in charge as Milan finished 10th, their worst league position in 17 years.

Thierry Henry

Henry made his name at Monaco after breaking into the first team in 1994, the forward going on to become a world champion and a Premier League icon with Arsenal. After a period as youth coach with the Gunners, Henry was named as Belgium boss Roberto Martinez's assistant. Permanent roles with Bordeaux and Aston Villa were mooted, but in October 2018 Henry chose Monaco. He lasted just three months, losing 11 of his 20 matches in charge across all competitions before being replaced by Leonardo Jardim, the man he had succeeded.

Juan Jose Lopez

One of the most decorated players in River Plate history, having won seven league titles in an 11-year spell, Lopez was a popular appointment after making a strong impact in his second period as caretaker manager in 2010. However, he subsequently presided over a poor 2011 Clausura campaign, forcing River into a play-off against Belgrano, who won 3-1 on aggregate. It was the first time River dropped out of the top tier, sparking riots which left many people injured.

Juventus have decided their Maurizio Sarri experiment has not worked and for the second time in as many seasons the Bianconeri are on the hunt for a new head coach.

Sarri was the man chosen to succeed Massimiliano Allegri ahead of the 2019-20 campaign, an appointment that seems a lifetime ago in a season interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The former Napoli boss steered Juve to a ninth straight Serie A title, but the unconvincing nature of that triumph meant the Scudetto alone was never likely to be enough to convince the club's hierarchy Sarri would be the man to achieve the ultimate goal of winning the Champions League.

They fell short in Europe on Friday night, with Juve failing to overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit to Ligue 1 side Lyon in the Champions League last 16, a 2-1 win on the night meaning they exited on the away goals ruling.

With Sarri gone, we take a look at some of the prime contenders to take over at the Italian champions.

MAURICIO POCHETTINO

An easy link, or a case of ideal timing? Pochettino has been out of work since being sacked by Tottenham in November 2019. That relationship soured towards the end but should not overshadow his achievements with Spurs, including taking them to a Champions League final. The Argentine coach was also linked with the Bianconeri a year ago, though now there is no need to negotiate a compensation package with another club. With a shorter turnaround than usual before a new season, the 48-year-old is available for Juve, should they want someone in place quickly.

SIMONE INZAGHI

Sarri was let go despite winning Serie A, but there was a period when Lazio looked like ending their Scudetto dominance. Former striker Inzaghi led the Rome side to the Coppa Italia last year and has twice thwarted Juve in the Supercoppa Italiana in his four years at the helm. Although their title challenge fell away after the restart, Inzaghi earned Lazio a spot in the Champions League proper for the first time since 2007-08.

ZINEDINE ZIDANE

In his first full season back in the Santiago Bernabeu hotseat, the France great led Real Madrid to a first LaLiga title since the 2016-17 campaign. But after being knocked out of the Champions League last 16 by Manchester City and with Madrid's reputation for chaos, Zidane's future is perhaps not 100 per cent locked in. It would still be a huge surprise to see Zidane depart the Spanish capital, though if he did, perhaps a return to Juve – where he starred in his playing days before joining Madrid – may be tempting. With three straight Champions League wins to his name from 2016 to 2018, his proven pedigree may appeal to Juve who are so desperate to land Europe's most coveted prize.

ANTONIO CONTE

Could Juventus turn to the man who sparked their run of nine successive Serie A titles? A once mighty midfield force for the Bianconeri, coach Conte led Juventus to three straight Scudetti before leaving to become Italy boss in 2014. After spells with the Azzurri and Chelsea, Conte has wound up at Inter, so it might take an audacious raid on their Serie A rivals for Juventus to be reunited with their former boss. Yet amid mixed fortunes in his first year at San Siro, there are some who think Conte could be on the lookout for a new job sooner rather than later.

PAULO SOUSA

A double winner with Juve in 1994-95 and a member of the team that won the Champions League a season later, Sousa has the advantage of a prior connection with the club but should be considered an outside shot. He has enjoyed a nomadic coaching career that has included stops at Leicester City, Swansea City, Basel and Fiorentina but has failed to inspire in his current post at Bordeaux, where his win percentage is just 30.2.

Antonio Conte was delighted to welcome the imminent news of Alexis Sanchez's permanent transfer to Inter after helping the forward recover from "the worst moment of his career". 

Inter are set to announce the deal for Sanchez from Manchester United on a three-year deal on Thursday, though the move was revealed prior to their Europa League clash with beat Getafe. 

The Chile international endured a dismal 18-month spell at Old Trafford before leaving United on loan at the start of this season, recovering both form and fitness at San Siro. 

Nerazzurri CEO Giuseppe Marotta confirmed the situation regarding Sanchez's future in a media interview prior to the Getafe match on Wednesday. 

And speaking after a 2-0 win that sent Inter through to the last eight, the transfer had raised head coach Conte's spirits. 

"I think the Sanchez transfer is a very good move by the club," Conte told Sky Italia. "Considering the conditions in which we managed to get Alexis, it was a really good transfer. 

"The club deserve credit because he came at the worst moment of his career. He arrived after two difficult years when he was really struggling at United and then got injured with us. 

"We took the time to get him back on track, so it is only right for Inter to enjoy it and reap the rewards of that effort." 

Sanchez was a second-half substitute against Getafe in what had been set to be the final match of his loan stint. 

Former United striker Romelu Lukaku opened the scoring before half-time, with Christian Eriksen clinching progress to the quarter-finals with a late second goal.

Antonio Conte said his Inter side are happy to "get dirty" in their pursuit of the Europa League title after overcoming Getafe 2-0 in the last 16.

In a one-legged encounter in Germany, goals from Romelu Lukaku and Christian Eriksen ensured Inter's place in the quarter-finals, with Rangers or Bayer Leverkusen up next.

Things could have been different for Getafe, with veteran striker Jorge Molina missing a penalty shortly after coming off the bench before Eriksen finally settled the contest with seven minutes to go.

Inter's performance left Conte pleased, with the former Chelsea and Juventus coach hailing his side's willingness to go toe-to-toe with a robust Getafe team.

"We knew full well the difficulties this game could bring," Conte told Sky Italia.

"Getafe started strong. They were going for the second ball and to make it physical. They were stronger at the beginning, but we got the game in hand and started to pass the ball around.

"We expected it to be a dirty game and we were not afraid to get dirty with them. That's a great sign, as it's that determination to get stuck in and fight for every ball, something we missed at times this season.

"Progressing in Europe is also a chance to gain experience. I am happy with the performance. We could've had an even better scoreline. We had more chances to score.

"They proved they want to keep going and aren't ready to go on vacation yet."

Inter head coach Antonio Conte preached unity amid doubts over his future as he eyes Europa League success.

Conte's future has dominated headlines since hitting out at the club for not protecting him or his players in the midst of criticism during the season following Saturday's 2-0 Serie A victory over Atalanta.

Inter are reportedly weighing up Conte's position after just one season at the helm, with former Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri and ex-Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino linked to the Nerazzurri.

But ahead of Wednesday's one-legged Europa League last-16 clash against LaLiga side Getafe at neutral venue Veltins-Arena in Gelsenkirchen due to coronavirus, Conte told reporters: "When I speak I do it for Inter.

"This is very important for me. It is not important for me, it is important for Inter. As usual when I speak. Let's try to speak about us, about something that keeps us close to each other under the same flag."

Inter ended the 2019-20 Serie A season as runners-up, just a point behind Juve after collecting 82 points from 38 matches – equalling the total of the 2009-10 treble-winning team under Jose Mourinho.

The Italian powerhouse now have their sights set on winning the Europa League, with Conte adding: "I think that Europa League is a very important competition for everybody, mostly for us.

"We need to be good, as [captain] Samir [Handanovic] said, because we don't want any regrets. We don't know where we will arrive with our best but in the end no regrets giving everything as we did everything in the league [Serie A] and across the season."

"When you win you feel more confidence in yourself," he continued. "This is nothing new. I say that it is not easy to win and if you succeed your level starts to be important.

"I think this is a very important competitions for us and winning it will help us to feel more confident in our qualities and team skills. But you need to win."

Things seem to be moving quickly at Manchester United and Jadon Sancho could be on his way to Old Trafford.

Sancho, 20, has been heavily linked with a move to several Premier League giants this close season after starring for Borussia Dortmund.

And a switch to United appears to be close, latest reports indicate.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD TO PAY €120M FOR SANCHO

Borussia Dortmund expect Manchester United to pay £107.9million (€120m) for Sancho in instalments, according to Sport Bild.

Its report says the Bundesliga club are prepared to accept that as long as the offer is submitted by August 10.

Sancho scored 20 goals in 44 games in all competitions for Dortmund in 2019-20.

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Manchester United and Alexis Sanchez is reportedly set for a permanent exit. Gianluca Di Marzio reports Inter and United have reached an agreement over Sanchez, saying he will make his move to the Serie A club permanent on a free, signing a three-year deal worth €7m per year.

- Barcelona are still looking to raise funds. Sport reports the LaLiga club's main transfer targets are Inter star Lautaro Martinez and Manchester City defender Eric Garcia. Meanwhile, Sport also says Barca rejected a £54m (€60m) bid from a Premier League club for 20-year-old forward Francisco Trincao.

- While Manchester City are reportedly set to sign Bournemouth defender Nathan Ake, the Premier League giants are apparently still looking to strengthen elsewhere at the back. ESPN reports City are still interested in Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly, as well as Villarreal centre-back Pau Torres.

- There remains uncertainty over Antonio Conte's future at Inter, according to reports. Fabrizio Romano says the head coach held a call with president Steven Zhang with a decision to be made after the Europa League.

- With Willian coming out of contract at Chelsea at the end of the season, the attacker is apparently attracting plenty of interest. France Football reports Arsenal have offered Willian the best deal with their three-year offer.

- Idrissa Gueye could be on his way out of Paris Saint-Germain after just one season. Le 10 Sport reports the Ligue 1 champions want to sell the midfielder, who has been linked to Manchester United and Wolves.

Memphis Depay has links to Manchester United and he might be able to help out his former club.

Depay spent two years at United but struggled before leaving for Ligue 1 outfit Lyon in 2017.

The Netherlands international has since flourished in France, and he could now play a role in United bringing Jadon Sancho to Manchester.

 

TOP STORY – DORTMUND WANT DEPAY AS SANCHO REPLACEMENT

Manchester United's bid to sign Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho could hinge on Lyon captain Memphis Depay, according to The Sun.

Sancho has been tipped to leave Bundesliga side Dortmund for Premier League giants United in a blockbuster transfer this off-season.

Former United forward Depay has emerged as a possible replacement for Sancho at Dortmund and is reportedly the key to the Red Devils prising the England international to Old Trafford.

 

ROUND-UP

- Could Antonio Conte leave Inter after just one season? The Inter head coach took aim at the club after their final game of the Serie A season – a 2-0 win over Atalanta on Saturday to secure second spot behind Juventus. Conte claimed neither he nor his players were protected by the club amid criticism. Now, Sky Sport Italia, SportMediaset, La Gazzetta dello Sport, Tuttosport and Corriere dello Sport claim the damage is irreparable. With Conte facing an uncertain future, former Juve head coach Massimiliano Allegri and ex-Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino have emerged as possible replacements.

- Le10Sport reports Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang wants Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele to join the Gunners. Dembele has been linked with a move away from the LaLiga giants, who are reportedly trying to raise transfer funds through sales. Aubameyang himself has been linked to Barca, as well as Paris Saint-Germain and United previously.

Milan are ready to sell Lucas Paqueta, claims Calciomercato. Linked to PSG previously, Serie A rivals Fiorentina are interested in the Brazilian attacker and an exchange involving Viola star defender Nikola Milenkovic could take place.

- According to the Telegraph, Sevilla defender Diego Carlos is at the top of Arsenal's transfer wish list. Premier League rivals Manchester City and Liverpool have also been credited with interest.

- AS Diario says Real Madrid have a clear plan of when they want to pursue their transfer targets amid the coronavirus pandemic. Reluctant to spend after winning LaLiga and in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, Madrid are focusing on 2021 – PSG's Kylian Mbappe at the top of the list. Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga is also wanted next year, while Dortmund forward Erling Haaland is a 2022 target.

Inter head coach Antonio Conte claimed he and his squad received "little protection" from the club amid criticism as he hit out at the Nerazzurri.

Conte's Inter ended the 2019-20 Serie A season runners-up, just a point behind champions Juventus, following Saturday's 2-0 victory at Atalanta.

Danilo D'Ambrosio and Ashley Young scored first-half goals as Inter collected 82 points from 38 matches, equalling the total of the 2009-10 treble-winning team under Jose Mourinho.

However, Conte – in his first season at San Siro – vented his frustration post-match, having previously insisted he would not hesitate to leave Inter if they were not happy.

"We must give merit to these lads, 82 points is a lot, it's a lot and it shows that we worked well," Italian boss Conte told reporters.

"It's displeasing though that I saw Inter being attacked in a bad way, gratuitous attacks against the players and against me; I didn't like that, also because I saw little protection from the club.

"That said, we became even more solid and stronger, and today we enjoy this, me and the players, with all due respect for all the others, but we enjoy this, us working at Appiano, at Pinetina, these 82 points.

"Even though I repeat, they mean nothing, because as I said, those who win write history. This is a good result though, because we're coming from many years where the points [gap] were a lot."

While the Serie A season has concluded, Inter's attention turns to their Europa League last-16 clash with Getafe on August 5.

Instead of a two-legged tie, Inter and LaLiga outfit Getafe will meet in a single knockout match amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Conte added: "It will be a battle against Getafe. They are a tough team, they defend in 10 below the ball line, they throw the ball forward as soon as they can, with the two forwards they engage in certain fights... just look for reference at Real Madrid-Getafe or Barcelona-Getafe to understand the difficulties faced by such teams.

"And we're talking about top teams - in order to beat Getafe. Results like 1-0, meagre results; it will be a battle, but at the same time I can count on great players and above all great men, therefore I am calm in light of that. I say, to our supporters, we will do whatever we can, as we did this season, we will give everything.

"I don't know whether this will bring us to the quarter finals, to the semi-final, to the final, or to raising the cup; that I can't say, but what we will do is surely fight tooth and nail."  

Inter chief executive Giuseppe Marotta once again poured cold water over the possibility of signing Barcelona captain Lionel Messi, labelling the speculation as a "pure dream".

Messi continues to be linked to Inter, with the Barca superstar reportedly unhappy at Camp Nou and prepared to leave the LaLiga giants once his contract expires in 2021.

There has been renewed talk that Inter could attempt to prise Messi to San Siro after a picture of the six-time Ballon d'Or winner was projected onto the Duomo di Milano prior to Tuesday's 2-0 Serie A victory over Napoli.

However, Inter CEO Marotta dismissed the chance of Messi swapping Barca for the Italian club following Saturday's season-ending 2-0 triumph at Atalanta.

"We have to be realistic, it's a dream. These are fantasies," Marotta told Sky Sport Italia.

"Messi is an absolute top player who is with his ideal club like Barcelona, where I think he will end his career. So, I repeat that this is a pure dream."

Inter finished the 2019-20 Serie A season just a point adrift of champions Juventus thanks to their success away to high-flying Atalanta.

Ashley Young scored a fine goal from outside the box after team-mate Danilo D'Ambrosio had given Inter the lead inside just 50 seconds.

Despite securing a runners-up finish in his first season with Inter, head coach Antonio Conte took aim at the Nerazzurri afterwards, claiming neither he nor his players received protection from the club amid criticism.

But Marotta – who also worked alongside Conte at Juventus – said: "Second place is the confirmation of a project that has been underway since the beginning of this season.

"The fact that we have matched the points earned in the treble season, that we have set the away goals record and maintained the best defence in the league are great facts, but the priority is to have created a model for the seasons to follow. So, I have to thank the management for the support given to the team."

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