Thohir: Inter boss Mancini must secure Champions League return

The Indonesian has made it clear that he expects the Nerazzurri to finish in the top three in Serie this season after investing heavily in the squad

Inter president Erick Thohir has warned Roberto Mancini that nothing less than qualification for the Champions League will suffice this season.

Mancini succeeded Walter Mazzarri as coach last November and was unable to inspire an improvement in the San Siro side’s fortunes, with the Nerazzurri missing out on Europe after finishing eighth in the Serie A standings.

However, Thohir has backed his coach in the transfer market this summer, signing Miranda, Jeison Murillo, Geoffrey Kondogbia and Martin Montoya, while Steven Jovetic is poised to join from Manchester City.

Given star striker Mauro Icardi and highly rated goalkeeper Samir Handanovic have also been handed lucrative contract extensions, the Indonesian fully expects Mancini to deliver a top-three finish this time around.

“We must qualify for the Champions League next season because this is the reason why we brought in Mancini in November and some top players in our squad extended their contracts this summer,” Thohir told the Corriere dello Sport.

“Miranda has been among the 10 best defenders in the world for the past two years, Murillo was the best youngster at the Copa America, while Kondogbia is the future, the best of tomorrow’s midfielders.

“I have spoken one-to-one with nearly all of the players in the last few days. I wanted to get to know them better but above all to explain our objective: qualification for the Champions League.”

Kondogbia is arguably Inter’s most eye-catching acquisition to date, with the midfielder having been prised away from Monaco for a fee that could rise to €40 million.

Thohir is in no doubt that the 22-year-old can prove himself the new Yaya Toure, who the Nerazzurri failed to persuade to leave Manchester City this summer.

“I believe that Kondogbia can be our Toure and I’m not saying that becayse Yaya decided against signing for us,” he stated.

“We had decided to bring in two or three top players and Kondogbia was always one of these.

“Every player has his own path to work if they want to become the best. We’re happy to have Kondogbia and we want to help him become the No.1 in the world.”

AC Milan had been confident of signing Kondogbia but even they were beaten to the Frenchman’s signature by Inter, Thohir insists that relations between the two city rivals remain cordial.

“It was Kondogbia who decided to come to Inter because he believes in our project and because he wanted to work with Mancini,” he explained.

“We believe in him and he’s the player that we wanted.

“Relations with the Rossoneri are great and based on mutual respect.”

As for the proposed deal for Jovetic, Thohir admitted that he is excited by the prospect of the Montenegrin joining the Inter attack.

“When they ask me about this player or that player, usually I don’t comment because they belong to another club,” he stated.

“But I won’t hide the fact that I will be happy if we bring him to Inter.

“Before I add anything else, however, we have to wait for him to pass the medical tests and then sign the contracts.”

Thohir also hinted that Inter could make more moves before the window closes on August 31.

“The market is young and we still have 40 days ahead of us,” he added.

“But, for now, Mancini must prepare the squad and this year he will have more time to work with than last season.

“It’s important that the players understand what’s expected of them and what he’s asking of them.”

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