Inter have fired coach Andrea Stramaccioni and will replace him with former SSC Napoli boss Walter Mazzarri, the club said on Friday.
Mazzarri had been linked with a move to Inter ever since announcing he would leave Napoli at the end of the season and Inter president Massimo Moratti confirmed as much when he said: “I’ve chosen Mazzarri, I’m sorry for Stramaccioni.”
“That takes nothing away from the esteem I hold for Stramaccioni’s talent and potential,” he said. “I’m convinced he’ll become one of the great Italian coaches, but it might also be necessary to save his professional future after a particularly unlucky year and maybe he needs to find an easier situation than Inter. We’re coming to a difficult season and I thought we’d need a coach with Mazzarri’s experience.”
The move comes after a torrid season for the Italian giants, who finished a dismal ninth in Serie A and missed out on European competition for next season, just three years after winning the UEFA Champions League under Jose Mourinho.
Mazzarri will become the sixth Inter coach since that memorable night in Madrid.
He guided Napoli to second place this season, their best result since the days of Diego Maradona in the early 1990s.
It completed four successful years in Naples for Mazzarri, who twice guided his team into the Champions League.
Stramaccioni, by contrast, suffered a miserable season as his side lost 16 times in 38 league matches, their worst sequence since the end of World War II.
Since winning the treble of Champions League, Serie A and the Coppa Italia in the second of Mourinho’s two seasons in charge, Inter have won only one trophy of note, the Coppa Italia in 2010-2011 under Brazilian Leonardo, who promptly walked away to take over as sporting director at Paris Saint-Germain.
Meanwhile, Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez is on the brink of joining Napoli for next season, according to Italian press reports on Friday.
Sky Sport claimed Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis had agreed a two-year deal worth 3.5 million euros (US$4.5 million) a season with the Spaniard, with an option for a third year, but De Laurentiis himself denied he had ever mentioned Benitez, although he let it be known that the press were barking up the right tree.
“I didn’t say a name,” he told Rai Sport 1. “Today [Friday] in London I met with some people and I told [Sky]: ‘I’ve offered myself a present,’ but without mentioning a name, UEFA’s rules don’t allow that.”
Benitez, who last week led Chelsea to Europa League glory, is still under contract with the Londoners until the end of their tour of the US.
Although his joining Chelsea was hugely unpopular with many fans, the 53-year-old has a good record.
He won two La Liga titles and the Europa League with Valencia, while he led Liverpool to Champions League success in 2004-2005.
He is rumored to also be wanted by Paris Saint-Germain, whose current coach Carlo Ancelotti seems likely to leave for Real Madrid, where Jose Mourinho’s departure has already been announced, ahead of a suspected return to Chelsea.