Milan - Inter Milan coach Roberto Mancini has backed
misfiring midfelder Geoffrey Kondogbia to emulate Marco van Basten and Michel
Platini - by overcoming a difficult start to life in Serie A to eventually find
Highly-rated Frenchman Kondogbia was expected to impress
from the start at Inter after joining the club from Monaco on a five-year deal
worth around 35 million euros ($39.4 million) last summer.
But the France midfielder has struggled to adapt to life in Italy
and spent the past few games either leaving or joining the substitutes' bench.
Mancini, however, said the club are fully behind the
22-year-old France international and expect him to overcome his difficulties.
"I believe Geoffrey will become a great midfielder. We
all hold him in high esteem," Mancini told reporters Friday, a day ahead
of Inter's trip to Palermo.
"He shouldn't be worrying. Van Basten, Platini and
plenty of other players had some difficulties when they first started playing
Also read: Mancini prepares for ‘do or die game’ with Juve
Hailed as a key player for Inter when he joined the San Siro
outfit in the summer, Kondogbia has instead found the Italians' disciplined,
tactical approach to 'calcio' (football) tougher than expected.
Playing among Mancini's three-man midfield, in a 4-3-2-1 or
4-3-1-2 formation, has not helped either.
Kondogbia was replaced by Andrea Ranocchia at half-time in a
stunning 4-1 defeat at home to Fiorentina last month and, in Inter's next
league outing, was replaced by Jonathan Biabiany late in the second half in a
1-1 draw at Sampdoria.
Kondogbia was left on the bench last week when Inter
welcomed champions Juventus to the San Siro for the 'Derby d'Italia', only
making a cameo appearance at the death before the game finished scoreless.
It was only when Mancini adopted a 4-2-3-1 for the
Berlusconi Trophy against AC Milan in midweek, a friendly fixture played to
honour the father of Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi, that Kondogbia soared.
Playing just in front of the defence, Kondogbia scored the
goal that earned a second string Inter side victory over AC Milan's Serie A
It was the Frenchman's first goal since he helped fire
Monaco into the quarter-finals of the Champions League last February.
"He (Kondogbia) played well, besides scoring the
goal," added Mancini, who said Kondogbia should not be worried about his
time spent on the subs' bench.
"It will happen to others too because we'll be playing
three times in a week."
Inter, who last won Serie A in 2010 when they claimed a
treble of league, Cup and Champions League under Jose Mourinho, are considered
bona fide contenders for the league title this season after investing heavily
in the summer.
Ahead of Saturday's trip to Palermo, the Nerazzurri sit in
third place, behind Roma on goal difference and one point behind leaders
Fiorentina. Four-time consecutive champions Juventus are 14th, nine points off
Mancini did not rule out asking club owner and president,
Erick Thohir, for reinforcements during the winter transfer window.
"I haven't spoken to Thohir, maybe a little further
down the line. We'll take stock of the situation in the next six weeks,"
"If we're going to win the scudetto, it's down to us but
we know we have to improve."For
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