Roberto Mancini: ‘Inter didn’t want Mateo Kovacic exit’

Inter manager Roberto Mancini admits nobody at the club wanted to see Mateo Kovacic leave the San Siro – but Geoffrey Kondogbia could prove to be a fine replacement.

Both Kovacic and winger Xherdan Shaqiri left the club over the summer whilst other players remain on the market, including Danilo D’Ambrosio, Davide Santonand Yuto Nagatomo.

Croatian midfielder Kovacic was sold to Real Madrid for €35m, more or less equalling the outlay on Geoffrey Kondogbia, while Shaqiri opted for a move to the Premier League with Stoke City.

Defensive midfielder Kondogbia joined Inter this summer on a five-year deal fromMonaco.

“I think Kondogbia can become one of the best midfielders in the world,” said Mancini. “Nobody wanted to sell Mateo, but unfortunately there are considerations that go beyond the player. It happened because we had this Financial Fair Play issue and had to balance the books.

“The same was true of Xherdan Shaqiri. He had offers, we needed to get fresh funds and therefore he was sold. We believed in the player, but in the end we had to sacrifice him. He needed more time, as anyone does when going to a different League, so I wish him the best at Stoke City.

“We signed Shaqiri in January and believed in him, but if we find ourselves in a situation in July where Inter are forced to bring in money and the only offers are for Shaqiri, we have no alternatives. We can’t print money.

“With a heavy heart, we made this sale. It wasn’t a lack of planning, but he was the only option to sell and we have this agreement with UEFA to balance the books. At least we made the same money back that we paid for him.”

Mancini is expected to lose more players after tomorrow’s season opener againstAtalanta, with the transfer window still open.

“The market being open will be irritating, but these are the rules and the papers like to talk about transfers, so we just have to deal with it,” Mancini said.

“Everyone is at our disposal and some of them will certainly play tomorrow (against Atalanta).”