Antonio Conte

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Sarri to return against Parma; Conte against Lecce

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MILAN — The new coaches of Juventus and Inter Milan have relatively easy starts to their return to Serie A, but there are potentially crucial matches during the second weekend of the new Italian league season.

The 2019-20 Serie A fixtures were announced on Monday. Juventus starts its bid for a record-extending ninth straight league title at Parma and then faces new coach Maurizio Sarri‘s former club Napoli in Turin in the second round.

Now coached by Antonio Conte, Inter kicks off its season at home to newly promoted Lecce. That also marks Conte’s return to the Italian League.

Conte led Juventus to three straight league titles before becoming Italy coach in 2014 for two years. The Italian also had a spell in charge of Chelsea from 2016-18, leading the English club to a Premier League crown and the FA Cup title.

Conte will face former club Juventus for the first time in the Derby d’Italia the weekend of Oct. 6, in week 7 in Milan.

The Serie A season starts on Aug. 25. The first weekend also sees Napoli, which finished runner-up last season, visit Fiorentina. Roma hosts Genoa and AC Milan visits Udinese.

The first Milan derby will be in the weekend of Sept. 22, in week 4.

The season finishes the weekend of May 24, with Juventus hosting Roma, Inter away at Atalanta and Napoli at home to Lazio.

The winter break will run from Dec. 23 to Jan. 5 as last season’s experiment of following the Premier League and running through the Christmas holidays has been abandoned.

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Conte calls Lukaku ‘important’ part of his plans at Inter

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So much for diplomacy. Antonio Conte is downright recruiting Romelu Lukaku to join him at Inter Milan, and he’s doing it through the press for all to hear.

[ MORE: Pochettino might have left if Spurs won Champions League ]

The rumors linking Lukaku with a move away from Manchester United have been swirling all summer, but as of yet the two clubs haven’t been past the “bid(s) made and rejected” portion of proceedings. As such, Conte is prepared to go a step further in courting the 26-year-old Belgian, stating his longstanding admiration and calling him “an important players for us” — quotes from the BBC:

“You know I like this player. In the past, when I was Chelsea’s coach, I tried to bring him to Chelsea.

“As I said before, I like this player and consider him an important player for us to have a good improvement but at the same there is a transfer market.

“We know very well which is our situation at the moment and we will see what happens but for now Lukaku is a United player.”

Man United paid $96 million for Lukaku just two years ago, so it would be unwise to expect them to let him leave for anything short of $80 million, if Inter are lucky.

Conte chooses Inter Milan as next stop

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Antonio Conte has delivered championships to Turin and London, but Milan will be his biggest test yet.

Inter Milan, that is; The club has not won a Serie A title since 2009-10, and Conte will do his level best to break former club Juventus’ run of consecutive titles at eight.

[ MORE: 3 key battles in UCL Final ]

This one could take some time, not just because of Juventus. Star striker Mauro Icardi is mercurial and that’s a polite adjective. Several of the club’s biggest names — Ivan Perisic, Radja Nainggolan, Kwadwo Asamoah — are over 30.

But its 33 goals conceded were second-best in Serie A, and the club only missed out on the knockout rounds of the Champions League due to away goals in head-to-head matches with Spurs.

Here’s Conte, from inter.it:

“I have chosen Inter because of the Club it is, because of the project’s sound basis and how ambitious it is. Because of Inter’s history. I was struck by the Club’s transparency and the desire to bring Inter back to where it belongs.”

Inter finished fourth by a point over rivals AC Milan, and its place in the Champions League may’ve been what helped it seal Conte’s commitment.

Spalletti leaves Inter, Conte expected to replace him

Luciano Spalletti
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MILAN (AP) — Inter Milan coach Luciano Spalletti has left the Serie A club, with Antonio Conte expected to replace him in the next few days, something many reports indicated in the last week.

Spalletti joined Inter from Roma in 2017 and led the team to two straight fourth-place finishes and qualification to the Champions League. But he has failed to win any silverware with the club.

“Inter Milan can confirm that Luciano Spalletti is no longer head coach of the first team,” Inter said Thursday in a statement. “The club wishes to thank Spalletti for his work and the results achieved together.”

Conte has been out of a job since June 2018 when he was fired from Chelsea. According to Italian media reports, the former Juventus coach has already signed a three-year contract with Inter.

Under Spalletti, Inter qualified for the Champions League for the first time since the 2011-12 season but was eliminated in the group stage. The team also finished 21 points behind Serie A champion Juventus.

Spalletti’s departure comes one day after coach Gennaro Gattuso left AC Milan by mutual consent after being beaten to the final Champions League berth by Inter.

Reports: Antonio Conte will be next Inter manager

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According to a number of reports across Europe, including The Guardian and The Mirror, Antonio Conte has agreed to terms to become the next manager at Inter Milan and will take over this summer, with Luciano Spalletti departing.

Conte has signed a four-year deal at Inter that will earn him around $11 million per season, with the Italian excited to return home and face the challenge of finishing the task at Inter. The Italian giants have slumped in recent years, but this year showed promise that the project may finally be coming to an end. Spalletti appears to have turned the team into a Champions League contender again, but there are reports that he is struggling to maintain the support of the locker room and the front office.

Inter’s qualification to next year’s Champions League is no guarantee either, with the club sitting just a point ahead of rivals AC Milan for the final Serie A spot heading into the final week of the season. They have just three wins in their final nine matches, leaving them vulnerable.

Conte most recently managed Chelsea for two seasons, winning both the Premier League and the FA Cup in his first season but missing out on Champions League qualification last campaign before departing. He recently won a lawsuit against Chelsea that will see the Blues pay him an additional $11 million as part of his severance package. Other than his Premier League stint at Stamford Bridge, Conte has spent his entire career in Italy, managing Juventus, Atalanta, and the Italian national team among others. He has eight Serie A titles to his name between playing and managing.

Rumors say that Conte is zeroing Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku as his first transfer target of the summer.