Managerial Carousel Reflects Desperate Crisis Surrounding Europe’s Elite Clubs | Antonio Conte
AAt first glance, Antonio Conte leaving a club in dispute with the owners shortly after leading them to a league title may not seem particularly meaningful. That’s what he does. His departure from Internazionale follows apparently similar departures from Juventus and Chelsea, and he also left the Italian national post earlier.
But it’s more than Conte. What is happening at Inter is emblematic of the chaos of modern football and the struggles of an industry which had become a stage for the soft power machinations of various states and oligarchs and which needed a major financial rebalancing even before. that the pandemic does not hammer incomes. And as the crisis looms, troubled securities investors are starting to float.
Conte and Inter are just part of a much bigger picture: This summer will see a big managerial reshuffle with at least two other clubs that have signed up to the European Super League having vacancies to fill. There will be consequences, and they could be profound. A period of flow is always a period of opportunity. But the reshuffle is only the most visible consequence of much deeper financial booms, of which the break-up proposals were only the most obvious eruption.
Inter’s debts were reported in March to 630 million euros. Their majority shareholder is the retail conglomerate Suning, which owns 68% of the shares. Suning itself is 23% owned by Chinese government investors. But while Abu Dhabi and Qatar’s involvement in football club ownership has so far been a guarantee of security, offering investments that are not dependent on results on the pitch – making it such threat to the traditional elite – the Chinese government is more concerned with balancing the books.
He has sought to curb excessive lending, which is why lucrative transfers to Chinese Super League clubs have all but come to an end. Suning owned Jiangsu FC, which won the Chinese title last season for the first time in its 63-year history before being wound up because it was seen as too much of a drain on Suning’s resources.
That won’t happen to Inter, but they took out a € 275million emergency loan from US asset firm Oaktree Capital Management earlier this month. They don’t have to look very far to see the possible consequences of this: Elliott Advisors Limited took over Milan in 2018 after their owner Li Yonghong defaulted on his loans.
For Conte, while he was looking to invest more to consolidate a first scudetto in 11 years and propel a serious Champions League campaign, that meant he was asked to raise € 80million from player sales. Considering his personality and background, it would have been a surprise if he hadn’t worked. He will be replaced by Simone Inzaghi, who left Lazio on Thursday.
Conte is a major presence on the managerial arena. He can be tough, but he has a record of sustained success, ranging from Bari to the Serie B title in 2009 to three league titles with Juventus and one with Chelsea and Inter. The only real doubt, beyond its combustibility, is its record in Europe. Real Madrid and Tottenham are viable destinations, not least because his ability to win and his aggressive pressing style is exactly what both need.
Over the past two seasons, Madrid have looked increasingly tired, playing a slow, old-fashioned form of football in desperate need of rejuvenation. Zinedine Zidane essentially admitted he couldn’t cope with this rebuilding when he stepped down after the 2018 Champions League success; three years later the situation has barely changed other than Cristiano Ronaldo is gone, everyone is older and the supposed solution to buy young Spanish talent has failed so catastrophically that for the first time in l story, there will be no Real Madrid. player of the Spanish team for a major tournament. Debts exceed € 900m and club president Florentino Pérez is at war with UEFA, having been exposed as a buffoon across Europe – if not quite still Spain – by his emptiness pity while discussing the Super League.
But as ludicrous as Perez’s bleating may be, it reveals the fundamental fact that Real Madrid’s finances are in dire straits and that they are in desperate need of offloading a dozen players in a depressed market just so they can begin their rebuilding.
There’s a reason they haven’t made a major signing since Eden Hazard and Luka Jovic in 2019 – and it’s not that they learned their lesson after splashing £ 150million on two strikers who totaled 27 league starts and scored six goals. Salary and prestige would offer some compensation, but it’s hard to think of a worse time to occupy the Madrid job in the past 70 years.
And then there’s Tottenham, their spectacular new stadium that risks becoming a glittering monument of pre-pandemic-era pride, with the cost of paying for it leading to cutbacks in investments that led to the collapse of the world. The team that led to the dismissal of Mauricio Pochettino This led to the nomination of José Mourinho which led to a seventh place and Harry Kane wanting to leave. The road to the Europa Conference is paved with the best of intentions.
Pochettino’s return would make sense both sentimentally and practically, especially given a relatively disappointing first season at Paris Saint-Germain – although many issues have been inherited. This potentially opens up another vacancy and there could be another one at Barcelona – which are heavily in debt but have a lot of young talent. Massimiliano Allegri returns to Juventus to replace Andrea Pirlo, but that still leaves Maurizio Sarri, the man who initially replaced him, out of work.
But as the tiles are frantically shuffled around the table, it may be that what really matters is what goes underneath and the ramifications of the economic disruptions of the past year – which are themselves the result of problems. much deeper into the financial structure of modern football.