Tuesday 4 February 2020 12:59 pm

Antonio Conte's Inter Milan are building Serie A title challenge out of Premier League castaways

From Chelsea to Manchester United and Arsenal, the Premier League is awash with clubs hiring young head coaches committed to putting academy players at the heart of their rebuilding project.

It is an understandably attractive ideology that promises to get fans onside – but it is not a trend that has extended to Inter Milan.

Inter boss Antonio Conte’s philosophy could not be more contrasting to that of the aforementioned teams, however there are plenty of signs that it is working.

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The club are currently enjoying their most successful season since the Jose Mourinho era a decade ago and serious candidates to deny Juventus a ninth consecutive Serie A title.

While Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been keen to oust older personnel in favour of developing his United team, former Chelsea manager Conte has been happy to pick up those cast-offs.

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Romelu Lukaku has been in incredible form since moving to the San Siro, scoring 18 goals this season

Last summer Inter signed both Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez, with the latter joining on loan and United continuing to pay a chunk of his wages.

Sanchez’s season has been hampered by injury but Lukaku has exceeded expectations since his £58.5m switch to Italy, scoring 20 goals and making four assists in 29 appearances so far this season.

Cut price wing-backs

In a bid to bolster his squad for their title push, Conte returned to Old Trafford last month to sign 34-year-old wing-back Ashley Young for £1.3m and raid his old club for Victor Moses, 29, after the Nigerian’s loan to Fenerbahce was cut short.

Moses enjoyed arguably his best ever season under Conte at Chelsea in 2016-17 as an integral part of the team that won the Premier League in the Italian’s first season at Stamford Bridge.

Not content with the abundance of Premier League experience already acquired, Inter finished the January window by competing a long-trailed deal for Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen.

Conte’s desire to sign older, experienced professionals, many of whom have won titles, is a clear indication of the Italian’s philosophy as he attempts to re-establish Inter as a force in Serie A.

Although not another import from England, the acquisition of former Atletico Madrid captain Diego Godin on a free transfer last summer also epitomises this approach.

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Victor Moses enjoyed the best spell of his career as a wing-back under Conte at Chelsea

Conte, who led Juve to three Serie A titles, was also ruthless with the club’s former stars, clearing out the likes of Mauro Icardi, Ivan Perisic and Radja Nainggolan because they did not align with the system or character that he wanted from his players.

In Lukaku he has a forward with a physical presence whose strengths lie in holding up the ball, winning headers and, of course, scoring goals.

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Equally, in Young and Moses he has acquired wing-backs who understand and excel in his preferred formations of 5-3-2 or 5-4-1 and will more than adequately be able to provide crosses for his strikers. They will all also increase competition for places.

All four of Eriksen, Lukaku, Moses and Young played as Inter beat Udinese on Sunday, closing the gap on leaders Juve to just three points.

It may not be the romantic way of winning that the likes of Chelsea, United and Arsenal appear to aspire to but, so far, his pragmatic approach has served Conte well.

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