Inter boss Conte expecting more from ‘shy’ Eriksen

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.

Christian Eriksen in action for Inter

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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