Antonio Conte has hailed the improvement in Romelu Lukaku's all-round game after another decisive display from the Belgian in Saturday's 2-0 Serie A win over Genoa. 

Lukaku's 10th goal in eight matches this term for club and country put them ahead at Stadio Luigi Ferraris before Danilo D'Ambrosio added a second to move the visitors up to third.

The former Manchester United striker now has 22 goals for Inter since his Serie A debut in August 2019, excluding penalties, which is more than any other foreign player in the competition.

Conte says he has been a long-time admirer of Lukaku and has been impressed with how he has added more to his game than just goals over the past 12 months.

"Romelu is a different player to what he was a year ago," he told Sky Sport Italia. "I always said in the past he was a rough diamond that I wanted to work with. 

"He is working and you can see just the way he receives the ball, the way he moves. Everything has improved."

Christian Eriksen was handed his first league start in a month but struggled before his departure shortly before the hour mark, failing to register a single shot or any key passes. 

Conte was frustrated at being asked about the 28-year-old but did concede he needs to improve his "intensity".

"I think you're getting too focused on this Eriksen issue," he added. "You've been underlining and asking about him since January. He is part of the squad, like everyone else. He plays if he deserves it and won't play if he doesn't.

"You see Christian's characteristics. I am trying to get the best out of him, but I don't like that you keep trying to make me speak ill of Eriksen rather than praise others.

"He is with us, that's not a problem. It's inevitable we need to find the right way to get the best out of him. At times it works, at others it doesn't. We need to work with him and get him to increase the intensity. 

"He's trying, he's giving it all, but we can't keep analysing and underlining how Inter play when Eriksen is on or off the field. It's not fair."

Following an opening 2-2 draw with Borussia Monchengladbach in Group B, Inter are back in Champions League action on Tuesday with a trip to Shakhtar Donetsk. 

Antoine Griezmann could be set to renew his contract at Barcelona.

The France international has faced criticism for failing to live up to expectations since joining Barca from Atletico Madrid last year.

However, Griezmann may join the list of players renewing with the LaLiga giants.

 

TOP STORY – GRIEZMANN SET FOR BARCELONA RENEWAL

Griezmann could be among the next group of players to renew at Barcelona, according to EFE.

It claims Sergio Busquets and Sergi Roberto may also re-sign, amid reports players are reducing their wages at the club.

It comes after Barcelona announced the re-signings of Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Gerard Pique, Frenkie de Jong and Clement Lenglet on Tuesday.

Griezmann scored 15 goals in 48 games for Barca last season, while he is yet to net in four appearances in 2020-21.

 

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- A former Barcelona head coach could be set for a new job. Marca reports Palmeiras have made a move for Quique Setien after the departure of Vanderlei Luxemburgo.

- Despite signing Nathan Ake and Ruben Dias in the close season, Manchester City are reportedly look for another defender. Fabrizio Romano suggested the Premier League giants are monitoring Villarreal centre-back Pau Torres.

- Christian Eriksen's Inter future remains uncertain. CalcioMercato reports Inter turned down a loan bid from Borussia Dortmund in the close season, but the Serie A club could be open to the midfielder leaving in January.

- After Virgil van Dijk suffered a serious knee injury, Liverpool are linked with defenders. The Sun says Brighton and Hove Albion would demand at least £50million for Ben White if the Premier League champions make a move for the centre-back in January.

What does the future hold for Kylian Mbappe?

For so long, the Paris Saint-Germain forward has been tipped to join Real Madrid.

However, Mbappe is believed to be attracted to the idea of leaving Parc des Princes for Anfield.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE INTRIGUED BY LIVERPOOL

Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe is interested in a move to Premier League champions Liverpool, according to Le Parisien.

Mbappe is contracted to PSG until 2022 but the France international forward has reportedly made it clear he has no plans to extend his deal in Paris.

He has long been linked with LaLiga champions Real Madrid, though the 21-year-old is attracted to Liverpool's style of play. Barcelona have also emerged as a possible destination.

 

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Zinedine Zidane retains the backing of Madrid following last week's shock defeat to newly promoted Cadiz, says AS. Head coach Zidane has come in for criticism after Madrid's first loss of the season. While delivering LaLiga glory last term, Zidane is reportedly under pressure to succeed in the Champions League following their last-16 exit in 2019-20.

- The Daily Star says Arsenal outcast Mesut Ozil is wanted by MLS outfit DC United. Wayne Rooney previously played for DC between 2018 and 2020.

- Todofichajes claims PSG and United are interested in Inter midfielder Christian Eriksen, who has struggled to establish himself in Milan since arriving from Tottenham in January.

Tottenham are close to agreeing a contract extension with Spurs star Son Heung-min, reports The Athletic.

Antonio Conte insisted Christian Eriksen would get his chances at Inter this season.

Eriksen, 28, joined the Serie A giants from Tottenham in January, but has struggled for game time since his arrival.

The Denmark international said last week he wanted more opportunities, having made just nine Serie A starts since joining Inter.

While Conte said Eriksen had been given his chances, he expects further opportunities for the former Ajax star.  

"He is playing enough. Of course, my choices are for the benefit of the team, then I could even go wrong," the Inter coach told a news conference on Friday ahead of the derby against Milan.

"However, I am happy about what Eriksen is giving Inter now, how he gelled in this squad and I think he is happy to be with this group and with me and my staff. He will have chances for sure because the season will be long and hard.

"[On Saturday] I will have only four midfielders, three will play and the other will come on later.

"On Wednesday we will play another tough game against Borussia Monchengladbach but, anyway, I think Eriksen has had many chances and has proven his talent to Inter. Just like the other players."

Inter have picked up seven points from their opening three Serie A games to sit fifth in the table.

Harry Maguire saw red as England's disciplinary problems continued in a 1-0 Nations League loss to Denmark. 

Having come from behind to beat Belgium 2-1 at the weekend, Gareth Southgate's side immediately ceded top spot in Group A2 as Christian Eriksen scored the only goal with a 35th-minute penalty. 

It was the third spot-kick England have conceded in four Nations League matches this season, by which point Maguire had already accrued two rash bookings to earn their second red card of the campaign - full debutant Reece James joining that list of ignominy after being sent off for dissent after the final whistle. 

Mason Mount came closest to an equaliser from Declan Rice's 66th-minute corner, only for Kasper Schmeichel to produce a remarkable save. 

Denmark started brightly and Kasper Dolberg had an eighth-minute attempt from Eriksen's clever low corner deflected into the side netting by Kalvin Phillips. 

England struggled to create clear openings, although Harry Kane's touch deserted him in front of goal on the end of Mount's lay-off. 

Southgate would rue that chance slipping away as his team imploded just after the half-hour mark. 

Maguire was arguably fortunate to stay on the field after his reckless early lunge on Yussuf Poulsen and referee Jesus Gil Manzano had little choice when the Manchester United captain's heavy touch led to him careering into Kasper Dolberg. 

By the time Dolberg hobbled out of the action, Eriksen had slammed home from the spot after Kyle Walker was harshly penalised for impeding Thomas Delaney. 

England's performance improved despite their reduced numbers and Schmeichel displayed incredible athleticism and reactions to deny Mount. 

The Leicester City goalkeeper was similarly sharp to tip over a rasping free-kick from James 12 minutes from time, although he needed the help of a goal-line clearance by captain and cap centurion Simon Kjaer to frustrate Conor Coady in the final minute.

What does it mean? England flaws magnified 

It seemed churlish to complain over the less impressive elements of a win over Belgium - the number one ranked team in the world - but Southgate's side once again showed plenty of room for improvement.

Even before Maguire's dismissal they carried negligible attacking threat. Despite the talent in their ranks, this is the third of four Nations League matches where they have failed to score from open play. 

Maguire misery continues 

After his holiday ordeal and court case in Greece - a matter still pending a retrial following an appeal - and a ragged start to the Premier League season with a shambling Manchester United, Maguire badly needed this international sojourn to go off without incident. It was not to be. 

His red card was, frankly, awful and he became the third England player in history to be sent off at Wembley entirely due to his own incompetence. The player who shone on the way to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals, becoming a cult hero in the process, is a fast-fading memory. These are tough times for the most expensive centre-back in the world. 

Eriksen at home in familiar surroundings 

Back at a ground he called a temporary home while at Tottenham, Eriksen purred during the opening stages and helped Denmark dictate terms to a ragged England. The match-winner had more shots and attempted more key passes than any other visiting player. 

What's next 

England travel to Belgium in their penultimate group game next month, when Denmark entertain Iceland next in the Nations League.

Sergio Ramos could reportedly leave Real Madrid for Juventus or Paris Saint-Germain, while Paul Pogba is being linked to Barcelona.

Madrid captain Ramos, 34, has been at the LaLiga giants since 2005, but his contract is expiring at the end of the season.

And his situation is catching the eye of two European giants.

 

TOP STORY – JUVENTUS, PSG EYEING RAMOS

Juventus and PSG have tabled contract offers for Madrid star Ramos, according to El Chiringuito.

Ramos is out of contract in June next year, leading to fresh speculation over his future.

The Spain international has won five LaLiga titles and four Champions Leagues among numerous other trophies with Madrid.

 

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- Amid a difficult financial position, Barcelona could also be looking at players coming out of contract. Mundo Deportivo reports Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba and Bayern Munich defender David Alaba may become targets.

- Inter reportedly offered Bayern Munich and intriguing exchange during the transfer window. Sky Germany says Christian Eriksen was offered to Bayern by Inter, who wanted Jerome Boateng, but the Bundesliga champions turned down the deal.

- Sergio Romero wants out of Manchester United. The Sun reports the goalkeeper has begged the Premier League giants to let him leave amid apparent interest from MLS.

- Harry Wilson could be set for another loan spell away from Liverpool. After spending last season at Bournemouth, Wilson is being offered to Swansea City, according to The Sun.

- Danny Welbeck may stay in the Premier League. The Daily Mail reports the forward, who was released by Watford earlier this month, is attracting interest from Brighton and Hove Albion.

- West Ham's move for Brentford forward Said Benrahma has stalled, according to The Telegraph, and Aston Villa may make a move for the 25-year-old.

Inter midfielder Christian Eriksen insisted he does not expect to sit on the bench for the rest of the season as he vented his frustration.

Eriksen swapped Tottenham for Inter in January but the Denmark international has struggled to establish himself in Antonio Conte's starting XI.

The 28-year-old has only featured in 73 minutes of Serie A action this term, having started just eight of 17 league fixtures in 2019-20.

In total, Eriksen started 11 matches across all competitions for Inter last season.

Asked about his Inter situation while on international duty as Denmark prepare to face Iceland in Sunday's Nations League clash, Eriksen told reporters: "I don't want to sit on the bench for the whole season. I hope this isn't the coach's or the club's intention.

"There will be an incredible number of matches in a short time, and now we also have three national team matches in a few days. The Champions League starts when we get back to their respective clubs, so there will be a lot of games to play.

"I'm sure I'll probably have my minutes. So it depends a lot on the people on the outside and I myself expect this moment to come.

"I find myself at a point where perhaps I had never been in a club team before. I got off to a great start after arriving at Inter in January and tried to show off then we stopped because of coronavirus and then it went little up and down.

"People's thinking and expectations of me as a player is to be decisive in every game, and that wasn't the case. That's why people from the outside look at me differently now.

"Obviously you become less patient when you have experience and have tried different things… in the end it is always unpleasant to sit on the bench."

Eriksen was linked with a deadline-day exit amid reported interest from Bundesliga duo Borussia Dortmund and Hertha Berlin, but the Danish star remains in Milan.

"I have not heard anything from my agent, and if there was something around me, I would have heard it from him or the club, but there was nothing," he added.

"I gradually got used to the fact that a lot is written in the press. What is true and what is not true, I cannot answer. I only know what I was told and there was nothing concrete. So Monday was just a day like any other for me, because nothing happened."

The 2020-21 season has only just started but Lionel Messi's future is dominating headlines once again.

Messi wanted to leave Barcelona, but he decided to remain at the embattled LaLiga giants.

Manchester City, who were reportedly tipped to lure Messi to England, are still dreaming of his arrival.

 

TOP STORY – CITY NOT GIVING UP ON MESSI

Manchester City are lining up a move for Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi at the end of the season, reports the Manchester Evening News.

Messi handed in a transfer request prior to the 2020-21 season getting underway and Premier League giants City were favourites to sign the six-time Ballon d'Or winner before he opted to stay.

Pep Guardiola and City, however, remain interested in Messi and will be in a position to land the Barca captain should the opportunity arise next year.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United have identified a list of potential defensive reinforcements that includes RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano and Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane, according to The Athletic.

- Fabrizio Romano says goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen's new Barcelona contract until 2025 will be confirmed soon. The 28-year-old's current deal is due to expire in 2022.

- Le10sport claims Paris Saint-Germain are considering a loan move for Inter midfielder Christian Eriksen, who has struggled to establish himself since joining from Tottenham in January.

West Ham are prepared to double Declan Rice's wages to fend off interest from London rivals Chelsea, reports The Sun.

- Tuttosport says Serie A champions Juventus are hoping to rival Madrid for Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga next year. Madrid have identified teenage midfielder Camavinga as a prime target, but Juve feel that by loaning Daniele Rugani to Rennes, it will help build a relationship with the Ligue 1 side.

- Calciomercato reports Lazio and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic are facing a decisive season. The Serbia international has been previously linked to the likes of PSG, United, Inter, Juve and Madrid.

Antonio Conte knows he will not be able spend big in the transfer window but did not rule out a move for N'Golo Kante and appeared to dismiss the prospect of selling Christian Eriksen.

Inter chief executive Giuseppe Marotta stated during a press conference on Friday that the club will "try to seize opportunities" in the transfer market but will not make large investments.

Achraf Hakimi and Arturo Vidal are among the new signings for the Nerazzurri ahead of their first game of the Serie A season against Fiorentina on Saturday.

Inter have also been linked with Chelsea midfielder Kante along with the likes of Schalke centre-back Ozan Kabak and Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic.

It has been reported that midfield duo Eriksen or Marcelo Brozovic could be allowed to leave, while Tottenham are said to have held talks with Inter over a deal for Milan Skriniar.

Conte gave little away when asked about potential deals after the head coach committed his future to Inter following an outburst at the end of last season that put his future in doubt.

Asked about Inter's strategy in the transfer market and the possibility of signing Kante, he said: "Times have changed compared to [Romelu] Lukaku [who joined Inter in a big-money move from Manchester United last August].

"It was an important operation and we managed to convince the president to take him. Operations like those give us credibility. Marotta has already spoken a lot about the market. We know the strategy, we are united and we have embraced this project.

"When we are clear and always tell the truth, then we find benefits from a similar situation."

He added: "The players who have arrived can bring experience, Hakimi will be important. In total agreement with the club we have evaluated and chosen a strategy taking into account what the owners have just said, that is the situation we are going through like all the other clubs. serenity and harmony.

"We must consolidate the credibility of last year. We are implementing a strategy for the good of Inter."

Marotta made it clear Inter would have to cut their cloth accordingly amid a coronavirus pandemic that has had a significant impact on the finances of clubs all over the world.

He said: "The club's task is to set up the squad in the best possible way while respecting the limitations that exist. We are in a pandemic and all clubs are turning their attention to financial sustainability.

"All clubs have lower revenues, closed stadiums, disputes. it is not it is a coincidence that no team has invested heavily in the market.

"We will do everything possible following the policy we are implementing. We will try to seize opportunities but there will be no large investments and large operations."

Real Madrid and Liverpool reportedly lead the race for Kylian Mbappe if the France star decides to leave Paris Saint-Germain.

Mbappe, 21, is contracted at PSG until 2022, making his future a talking point heading into next year.

It seems the France international's future lies at one of three clubs.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID, LIVERPOOL LEAD RACE FOR MBAPPE

Mbappe's future will be decided next year and the forward will be at PSG, Real Madrid or Liverpool, according to L'Equipe.

The World Cup winner has been heavily linked with Zinedine Zidane's Madrid previously, while Jurgen Klopp's Premier League champions have also reportedly been interested in the past.

The report says Liverpool and Madrid are in regular contact with Mbappe.

 

ROUND-UP

- Luis Suarez is set for a Barcelona exit, but the forward's next club remains unclear. Sport reports Suarez has an agreement with Atletico Madrid, apparently for two seasons, but Barca are said to be intending to block him joining a direct rival for free.

- Manchester United could strengthen as soon as this week. The Guardian reports Porto left-back Alex Telles hopes to seal a move to United this week and it says the Premier League club are hoping to get the 27-year-old's price down to £23mllion (€25m).

- With Kepa Arrizabalaga again coming under fire, Chelsea are set to welcome a new goalkeeper. RMC Sport reports the Premier League club have finalised a deal worth £22million (€24m), plus £5.5m (€6m) in bonuses, with Rennes for Edouard Mendy.

- Staying at Chelsea and N'Golo Kante is reportedly wanted by Inter. Corriere dello Sport reports Inter coach Antonio Conte wants the midfielder, but a €50million (£45.9m) asking price is unthinkable for the Serie A club unless Christian Eriksen or Marcelo Brozovic are sold.

- There could also be movement at Real Madrid. EFE reports Luka Jovic is pushing for a return to Eintracht Frankfurt on loan after struggling in his first season with the LaLiga giants. Meanwhile, Marca says former Paris Saint-Germain striker Edinson Cavani has been offered to Madrid.

- While Suarez may arrive, Atletico Madrid are also considering their transfer options. AS reports they are waiting for offers for Diego Costa, while Marca says the LaLiga club need to see a player leave before potentially signing Arsenal midfielder Lucas Torreira.

Barcelona are reportedly targeting Liverpool star Mohamed Salah.

Salah made a fine start to the Premier League season, scoring a hat-trick for Jurgen Klopp's men in a 4-3 win over Leeds United on Saturday.

Unsurprisingly, the forward is apparently wanted by LaLiga giants Barca.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA MAKE SALAH TOP TARGET

Barcelona have made Liverpool star Salah their top transfer target, according to the Express.

Salah and his Liverpool team-mate Sadio Mane have often been linked with moves to Barca's rivals Real Madrid.

Since Ronald Koeman arrived to take charge at Camp Nou, Barca have been said to be interested to numerous forwards, including Lyon star Memphis Depay.

ROUND-UP

- Frustrated in their pursuit of Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, Manchester United may look elsewhere. The Express reports the Premier League giants could make a move for Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale.

- Back at Camp Nou and Luis Suarez is expected to make an exit this close season. Mundo Deportivo reports Juventus – the most strongly linked to the forward – remain hopeful of signing Suarez.

- Could Christian Eriksen leave Inter after less than a year? CalcioMercato reports the Serie A giants are prepared to listen to offers for the midfielder.

- Inter may already have their replacement if the Denmark international leaves. Gianluca Di Marzio reports Barcelona midfielder Arturo Vidal is "one step away" from joining Inter.

- Emiliano Martinez looks set to leave Arsenal. Goal reports the goalkeeper is close to a £20million move to Aston Villa with a deal to be finalised in the coming days. Martinez has been at Arsenal since 2010.

Jesper Olsen said there is "no doubt" Hakim Ziyech will be a success for Frank Lampard's Chelsea after leaving Dutch giants Ajax.

Ziyech is preparing for his first season in the Premier League following his £33.3million arrival at Stamford Bridge from Ajax in July.

The Morocco international winger, who provided at least 10 assists in each of his six previous campaigns in Amsterdam, impressed in his first appearance for Chelsea as the Blues drew 1-1 against Brighton and Hove Albion in last week's friendly.

Olsen, who won back-to-back Eredivisie titles and the KNVB Cup during his time with Ajax between 1981 and 1984 before joining Manchester United, told Stats Perform News: "There's no doubt he will be a success at Chelsea.

"I think Frank Lampard has done a really good job. He knows the club inside out. Seems to be very good in terms of management and playing style. This is the important thing, he wants to attack and play offensive football. That will not be a problem [for Ziyech].

"The players coming out of Ajax, they are like that. Being a defender or midfielder, you are attacking-minded. No doubt about that."

Meanwhile, former Denmark international Olsen's countryman Christian Eriksen has endured a difficult start to life at Inter.

Eriksen swapped Tottenham for Antonio Conte's Inter in January, however, the Danish star was unable to establish himself in the starting line-up.

Of Eriksen's 17 Serie A appearances, only eight of them were starts as Inter finished second behind champions Juventus, while he only started two of the club's six Europa League fixtures en route to the final.

"I'm sure a big change from the Premier League," Olsen – a 43-time Denmark international winger – said. "London and then you go to Milan, a fantastic place. A very good team as well. I'm sure the way they do things is different to how they did things at Tottenham.

"It takes time I'm sure to settle in. Christian can play in any team really. He is probably one of those players you sometimes don't notice as much but he always does his job. Always solid and you can rely on him. I'm sure he will come good.

"He is probably happy the season has come to an end so he can get to know the place a bit better and to settle in for the new season. The way he is as a player, I'm sure he will come good."

Romelu Lukaku scored twice as Inter returned to winning ways with a 3-0 Serie A success at Genoa.

Consecutive draws had seen the Nerazzurri pass up the opportunity to properly capitalise on Juventus' shaky form, with the leaders still able to seal the Scudetto against Sampdoria on Sunday.

But even with their title hopes virtually extinguished, Antonio Conte's side were back on their game at the Luigi Ferraris to move up to second.

Lukaku nodded in his 22nd league goal of the season 34 minutes in and, after Alexis Sanchez added a late second, got his 23rd with a marvellous individual effort, leaving Genoa still just four points clear of the bottom three, having played a game more than 18th-placed Lecce.

Pressure had steadily built on the Genoa goal after a slow Inter start, with Lukaku - at the heart of all of their best work - helping to create chances for Marcelo Brozovic and Christian Eriksen that were both squandered.

The Belgium striker made sure the visitors were in front heading into half-time, though, as he ghosted into the area to meet Cristiano Biraghi's searching cross with a firm header in off the post.

A curling Filip Jagiello free-kick provided a brief scare, yet a low-key second period saw few clear openings at either end.

Although Genoa belatedly threw men forward in search of an equaliser, they were swiftly caught out in defence at the other end and substitute Sanchez netted via the bar after fine work from Victor Moses on the right.

There was still time for Lukaku to produce the moment of the match, racing forward deep into stoppage time and cutting inside past desperate challenges to hammer in the third.


What does it mean? Inter up to second but focus on Europe

Inter's form has not been convincing since the season's restart, yet they climbed back up to second with just two league games remaining with victory.

Though their slim title aspirations remain alive, their focus now is surely on the Europa League, with a last-16 tie against Getafe less than two weeks away. Conte can be encouraged by the control his side largely displayed.

Lukaku key in games to come

Inter were well on top for much of this match, but it fell to Lukaku to be their driving force, playing the role of both creator and finisher. He might have had an assist even before scoring the opener.

The former Manchester United striker's form will be crucial heading towards the Europa League, with strike partner Lautaro Martinez still struggling for form.

Inter waiting on Eriksen impact

Conte's pre-match comments focused on Eriksen, who the coach believes is growing into his role at Inter.

Some supporters might not be convinced by the former Tottenham midfielder just yet, though, and he passed up a big early opportunity to net his fourth Nerazzurri goal, lashing over the top following a smart Lukaku lay-off.

What's next?

The fixture list does not make easy reading for Inter, even if their league season is essentially over. They face Napoli next, followed by Atalanta and Getafe. Genoa do still need points and visit Sassuolo on Wednesday.

Antonio Conte is confident Christian Eriksen will prove a success at Inter in the long term but called on the midfielder to keep working.

Eriksen was a January arrival from Tottenham but has scored just three goals in 19 games for the Nerazzurri, whose Serie A title challenge waned over the same period.

Head coach Conte was encouraged by the Denmark international's display in the midweek draw against Fiorentina, however.

And the former Chelsea coach believes Eriksen can now kick on at San Siro as long as his work ethic does not drop.

"I prefer not to talk about individuals," Conte told Inter TV. "But [Eriksen] made an excellent first half with Fiorentina.

"He has now arrived. He is trying to give his best and we can put him in the best conditions to be able to succeed.

"Behind the strikers, he can do whatever he wants. But he must continue to work steadily and seriously. The results will come."

There is still time for Eriksen to have an impact in this campaign with Inter facing a frantic final stretch.

After visiting Genoa on Saturday, the Nerazzuri face Napoli and Atalanta in their last two Serie A fixtures, before their Europa League campaign resumes against Getafe just three days later.

"First of all, there is a difference [to the other Serie A teams]," Conte said.

"On August 5, we play in the last 16. Our next opponents, Napoli and Atalanta, will instead have more time to prepare for the Champions League, to rest and give their players the right preparation.

"We finish and then immediately play in Europe. It's a period of lots of work, physically and mentally."

Antonio Conte is "pleased" for Christian Eriksen but admits he wants to see more from the playmaker once he fully settles into life at Inter.

The Denmark international returned to Inter's starting line-up for Thursday's 4-0 win over bottom side SPAL after being brought on as a late substitute in their last two matches.

Eriksen has struggled for form since the three-month hiatus and there have been suggestions he could be sold at the end of the season, six months after joining from Tottenham.

But while Conte believes the 28-year-old can still develop his game in some areas, he is happy with the improvements already made since arriving in January. 

"Christian is working, he's trying to get into the mechanisms of the team and of a league that is much more tactical than in England," Conte told DAZN.

"He's a player with quality who is trying to improve, to be more aggressive when in pressing, which is what we are asking of him.

"I'm pleased for him, but he has to keep working, just like the others. He is quite a shy lad who is settling into a new reality, a new type of football. 

"He's a really good guy and didn't arrive with any arrogance. At the same time, he must understand shyness is fine off the field.

"But he has to adapt and understand certain situations. He creates no problems, he wants to achieve important things with Inter."

Alexis Sanchez stole the show against SPAL by setting up Antonio Candreva for the opener, playing a part in Cristiano Biraghi's strike and then heading in the third before Roberto Gagliardini rounded things off.

The Chile forward is set to return to Manchester United when his loan spell expires at the end of the elongated campaign but Conte is delighted with the impact he has made.

"Alexis is a player we wanted strongly – he has important characteristics," Conte said. "He came from two bad seasons at United but I knew what kind of player we were taking.

"It's a loan deal and United are paying a good part of his salary. Now he is starting to feel good. 

"For now he is a player who has rediscovered his form and wants to play. He is hungry and I am happy for him because he has suffered. He is certainly an extra weapon for us."

Back-to-back wins for Inter in the space of four days, combined with three games without a win for Juventus, lifts them up to second and within six points of top spot.

Conte is glad that his side are starting to show some consistency but acknowledges the title is still Juve's to lose as they boast a six-point lead with five games to go. 

"The important thing for us was to send a signal of our consistency, our belief, hunger and determination, because these games on paper might seem easy, but we know there's nothing easy," Conte said at his post-match news conference.

"SPAL were tough opponents and kept going. We wanted to secure a Champions League spot, position ourselves in second place again and get closer to those ahead of us, even if they are still a long way away.

"I think the signals sent by the team are ones of mental strength, even if we had a few hiccups along the way and paid a heavy price for them.

"The championship is certainly in the hands of Juventus. We must try to continue to do well and improve, to think about only us. 

"Now we have a difficult game against Roma and we have little time to recover. If we want to put pressure on those in front we will have to win."

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