The finale of a hard fought European campaign for Atletico Madrid might signal the end of the beginning of Diego Simeone at the Vicente Calderon
A true revolution is happening at Inter.
In the space of 12 hours, Inter owner Zhang Jindong decided to get rid of coach Stefano Pioli and appoint Walter Sabatini – former Roma sporting director – as head of the sporting section of his Suning group. This season is lost for Inter, the focus is already on the future. And the first move is the next coach.
A revolution was undoubtedly needed in a season that saw Inter appoint two different coaches and essentially take a huge step back to square one after an intense summer in terms of transfers. First Roberto Mancini was replaced by Frank de Boer, then Stefano Pioli took over. The next name could be Antonio Conte, the first choice of the Chinese owners, or Diego Simeone, inevitably in the Nerazzurri’s radar considering his past at the club.
Suning are ready to offer a 14 million euros a season contract for Conte, who is on the brink winning the Premier League with Chelsea. It is unlikely though that he would leave Roman Abramovich’s club at this stage, with the chance to spend heavily in the summer and fight for the Champions League next year. Money won’t be enough to convince him, and moving to Inter – albeit it presenting a fascinating personal challenge – would be a step back at this stage of Conte’s career.
"We didn't talk about a comeback just for the sake of it."
Simeone thinks pre-match confidence justified.
— MARCA in English (@MARCAinENGLISH) May 10, 2017
And that’s different to what it would be for Simeone. Having lead Atletico Madrid to a La Liga title and two Champions League finals in three seasons, El Cholo has struggled to repeat the feat this year, but is still on course for an honourable third spot in La Liga and another European semifinal after a plucky attempt at a comeback against Real Madrid. But it’s not the same, and the club seems to have reached its peak: growing further appears difficult.
Under these circumstances, and with his Nerazzurri heart, Simeone could be the right name to take on the Inter Revolution, with a clear mindset and work attitude, and a solid resume behind him. As well as being a well known name on the international level, a factor the Chinese owners desire particularly. Inter would surely benefit to have Simeone back, and for him it could be the right challenge now the motivation to stay at Atletico is less powerful.
The second-leg semifinal against Real Madrid could have been his last European game with the Colchoneros, a goodbye also to the Vicente Calderon stadium, in its final season before being replaced by a more modern structure as Atleti’s home. Simeone has been the heart of the club both as a player and as a manager, and will forever be loved by his fans.
A move to Inter could represent a step back in the sense that while Atletico have a Champions League side, Inter will most likely be absent from European football next season. And right now Serie A is less attractive than La Liga. But this is the point: for a man of Simeone’s character, a challenge like that of the Nerazzurri could be just what is needed after such an amazing spell at Atletico.
A year ago, when his team reached the Champions League final after a beautiful battle with Bayern Munich, Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport’s front page was a picture of Simeone represented as Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, the Cuban revolutionist, for the battling spirit he instilled in his players at Atletico. That spirit is what Inter need most, to complete the Revolution. The metaphor is still there: Simeone can be Inter’s revolutionary force.