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Mancini backs Kondogbia to soar in Serie A

23 October 2015, 16:02

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 success.

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 in Italy."

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 stars.

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 the lead.

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," he said.

"If we're going to win the scudetto, it's down to us but we know we have to improve."

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