Football

Eriksen set for Inter exit as Italy move turns sour

Christian Eriksen’s future at Inter Milan looks over with the former Tottenham Hotspur playmaker requesting to leave the Italian giants after just 10 months.

The Danish international arrived on a 4½-year contract worth 20 million euros (S$32m) plus 7.5m euros in bonuses in January.

But during a year overshadowed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the 28-year-old has been unable to reproduce his form with Spurs, where he scored 69 goals and had 89 assists in 305 appearances, or recently with Denmark.

“It wasn’t what I had dreamed of,” admitted Erikson, who has fallen down the pecking order under coach Antonio Conte.

“People would like to see me play and I would like to do the same, but the coach has different ideas and I have to respect them.”

The Dane has played seven times this season – four as a starter – with no assists or goals. In total, he has scored just four goals for Inter in 33 games.

“We must never hold back a player who asks to be transferred,” club CEO Giuseppe Marotta said Sunday, confirming Eriksen’s impending exit.

Conte insisted Eriksen “has had many opportunities and played more than others”.

“My choices are always made for the good of Inter. When I deem it appropriate, he’ll be able to play in the starting 11 or during the game,” said the former Chelsea coach.

One of the problems facing Eriksen has been that the Nerazzurri have many options in central and attacking midfield, including Arturo Vidal, Radja Nainggolan, Marcelo Brozovic and Stefano Sensi.

Conte has insisted he will not change the Dane’s position to a more defensive one.

“Eriksen has an important role and style of play, both on the left and the right. If you take that away and play him deeper in front of the defence, you run the risk of distorting the player. It’s a technical decision,” said Conte.

Eriksen has been linked with moves to French champions Paris Saint-Germain, or a return to the English Premier League with Arsenal or Manchester United.

In the meantime, the midfielder, who has not featured in Inter’s last two league games, also looks set to miss his side's Champions League Group B clash against Real Madrid at the San Siro on Wednesday (Nov 25).

The Italian giants lost the away leg 3-2, despite coming from two goals down to equalise before Real snatched victory, and are bottom of the group with two points from three games.

Inter finished last season just one point behind champions Juventus and are among the favourites for the Scudetto this campaign. In Serie A, they are in fifth spot, five points behind leaders AC Milan.

The 18-time Italian champions have not won Serie A since their unprecedented Treble in 2010, which included a third Champions League crown. Inter’s only trophy since has been the 2011 Italian Cup.

This season Inter have won just four of their 11 games played, but Conte insisted: “The team have taken home fewer points than they’ve deserved.”

Conte will be hoping to count on his attack against the Spanish champions as well as the determination demonstrated by his side in coming from two goals down after an hour to beat Torino 4-2 in the league on Sunday.

Inter’s attack is among the best in Italy, with 20 goals in eight league games, the first time since the 1997/1998 season the team have achieved such a feat.

“It was our attitude which changed, our determination and the ferocity with which we pressed. We found the net four times and could have scored more," he said.

Pivotal to Inter's attack has been former United forward Romelu Lukaku, who missed the trip to Spain with a thigh injury. The Belgian is expected to start against Real, after scoring a brace and setting up the other two goals against Torino. – AFP

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