The buzz is back at Inter Milan, on and off the field
MILAN (AP) — The differences between the two Milan clubs could not be starker — on and off the field.
The clubs held their annual shareholders' meeting almost simultaneously on Monday, but while Inter Milan congratulated itself on record revenue, AC Milan was reporting record losses.
Inter's turnover grew by 20% in relation to last season, to 417 million euros ($465 million), and has more than doubled since Chinese owners Suning Group took over in June 2016.
Financially-troubled Milan reported a deficit of 145.9 million euros ($161.2 million) — the worst in the club's history — from its first season under the ownership of American hedge fund Elliott Management.
And while Milan is languishing in the middle of the standings, Inter is going toe-to-toe with eight-time defending champion Juventus at the top.
"Our constant improvement both on and off the field makes us very proud and gives us added incentive," Inter CEO Giuseppe Marotta said. "Inter has laid solid foundations for the growth of the club in the sporting field.
"The choice of one of the world's best coaches in Antonio Conte and his winning mentality, the strength of a close group, made up of many Italian players, will enable us to reach our objectives."
The unity of the group is easy to see. Forward Romelu Lukaku took the squad out for dinner on Wednesday, and gave a speech thanking his teammates.
A win at Brescia the previous night had put Inter back at the top of the standings, albeit temporarily because Juventus also won (while the Nerazzuri were having their dinner) to move a point clear.
Inter's goals in Tuesday's 2-1 win were scored by Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez, who are rapidly developing an impressive partnership.
The duo have scored 10 of Inter's last 12 goals. Lukaku has netted seven times in Serie A since joining from Manchester United in the offseason for a club record transfer fee of about 65 million euros ($73 million) plus up to 13 million euros ($15 million) in bonuses.
Lukaku was just one of the players the club brought in as Inter invested heavily in the offseason. Inter said that expenditure explains its loss of 48.4 million euros ($54 million).
Inter could invest more in January as it continues to battle in the Serie A, Champions League and Italian Cup, with Conte warning that his team can't keep up if they play a match every three days on average.
Some of the players have appeared visibly fatigued and injuries to either Lukaku or Martinez could cost the team dearly.
"Conte can be worried when there are moments of difficulty," Marotta said. "There have been injuries that have taken away players from us, but every member of the club knows that difficulties are a part of life.
"We look forward to the January transfer window with great optimism. We know that there are economic aspects to be respected, but we are ready to seize any opportunities that arise."