Jovetic, Gabigol near exit as In­ter wait to make big changes

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

In­ter Milan for­wards Ste­van Jovetic and Gabriel ‘Gabigol’ Bar­bosa could be sold by the Serie A giants, whose Chi­nese own­ers Sun­ing will make “top level” sign­ings next sum­mer, says coach Ste­fano Pi­oli.

Pi­oli has man­aged to steady the ship since re­plac­ing Dutch­man Frank De Boer last month but In­ter head into today’s home game against high-fly­ing Lazio with a 15point deficit to lead­ers Ju­ven­tus.

Amid in­creas­ing spec­u­la­tion that Mon­tene­grin for­ward Jovetic and Brazil­ian flop Gabigol are on their way out, Pi­oli ad­mit­ted In­ter will be look­ing to shed for­wards af­ter the Christmas break.

“To have fewer play­ers, es­pe­cially among the for­wards,” Pi­oli told La Gazzetta dello Sport on Tues­day when asked his ex­pec­ta­tions for Jan­uary. For­mer Manch­ester City for­ward Jovetic has played only 67 min­utes all sea­son, prompt­ing his agent to ac­cuse Pi­oli of al­low­ing key play­ers in the squad to “pick the team”.

Pi­oli ad­mit­ted the 27-year-old, whose ca­reer at City was ef­fec­tively ended by the club’s de­ci­sion to sign Wil­fried Bony, is un­likely to play any time soon. “Dur­ing a face to face (meet­ing) he was pretty un­happy at some of the choices that have been made,” said Pi­oli.

“I pick play­ers who are ready, in ev­ery sense of the word.” Gabigol was hailed as a fu­ture star of the team when signed in a 30 mil­lion eu­ros ($31 mil­lion) deal from FC San­tos in Au­gust. But the Brazil­ian last week asked to be sold in Jan­uary af­ter mak­ing only two sub­sti­tute ap­pear­ances so far.

Pi­oli sug­gested the for­ward has so far flattered to de­ceive: “He’s work­ing hard, just like all the oth­ers. But he has to show me that he’s bet­ter than the play­ers he’s in com­pe­ti­tion with.

“He’s not been ex­cluded. I play the play­ers who help me win.” Af­ter a “tran­si­tional” Jan­uary trans­fer pe­riod, Pi­oli said Sun­ing will make ma­jor sign­ings next sum­mer as they look to lift the club, tre­ble win­ners in 2010, back to the heights at home and in Europe. “The Jan­uary trans­fer mar­ket will be one of tran­si­tion. I don’t think we’ll make many changes,” he said.

“But we’ll be look­ing to make some top level changes next sum­mer. The fans can rest as­sured, Sun­ing re­ally wants to make In­ter one of the world’s top sides again. I can feel a real pas­sion around me.” Af­ter sev­eral dis­as­trous cam­paigns In­ter started the sea­son with sev­eral new faces and con­fi­dent of fight­ing for a third place fin­ish that of­fers the chance to qual­ify for the Cham­pi­ons League via a play­off round. De­spite a seven-point gap to third-placed Napoli and Lazio, Pi­oli says the Ner­az­zurri re­main on course. “Of course, we’re In­ter Milan,” he said. “Plus, I think we still have mas­sive room for im­prove­ment. I’m cu­ri­ous to see how good we can be­come.” —AFP

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