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Back to reality for Inter after Champions League disappointment
Inter Milan return to earth with a bump on Sunday after their Champions League dream was crushed by Manchester City, financial problems making a repeat of this season's heroics a difficult task for one of Europe's grand old clubs.
Well-organised and committed to coach Simone Inzaghi's game plan, Inter bridged a huge resource gap in Istanbul and came close to being crowned European champions for the fourth time.
But the Italians missed their chances and nouveau riche City got the Champions League title for which the club's Abu Dhabi owners have long searched via massive player investment and one of the game's best ever coaches.
Inter coach Simone Inzaghi insisted that his team can have another go at winning the club game's biggest prize after claiming a "new mentality" has been created at Inter.
"The players have gained experience and we will try to do it again," Inzaghi told reporters.
"We have lost a few games but those defeats are no match for the thrills brought by the games and silverware we have won.
"In the last 20 months we have played three finals and one was in the Champions League... if you get used to playing this sort of match that can only be good thing."
However while Inter might be a huge club which regularly packs in over 70,000 fans at the San Siro, like many of the continent's royalty they cannot compete financially with the big Premier League clubs.
A huge debt threatens a club which won Serie A two years ago, Chinese owners Suning needing to repay a 275-million-euro ($294 million) emergency loan which was taken out two years ago with investment fund Oaktree Capital with a reported interest rate of 10 percent.
The loan needs to be paid back in full in a year's time or Inter could end up being scooped up by Oaktree in a similar way to how fund Elliott took control of AC Milan from Chinese businessman Li Yonghong in 2018.
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Last season Inter posted a loss of 140 million euros ($150 million), a year after record losses of 245.6 million euros as stadiums stayed closed due to the pandemic.
Inter's run to the final will certainly help this year's accounts, but structural issues remain.
They are no closer to having a stadium of their own after much-vaunted plans to build a new San Siro with AC Milan petered out and there is simply nothing they can do about the yawning gap in television rights revenues.
Serie A clubs earned just over one billion euros from domestic and overseas rights this season, a tenth of what was brought in by the Premier League whose financial dominance of the European game led to the aborted attempt to found Super League.
Out the door this summer is Milan Skriniar, Inter's former captain, to another state-backed club in Paris Saint-German.
Playing in his place on Saturday was Francesco Acerbi who put in a magnificent performance alongside the equally impressive Alessandro Bastoni and Matteo Darmian but is 35 years old.
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And Inter are yet to strike a deal to extend Romelu Lukaku's loan from Chelsea, the Belgium having a dreadful night from the bench in Istanbul but also key to their top four finish in Serie A.
Should he return to England Inter would only have Edin Dzeko and out-of-favour Joaquin Correa as a partner to Lautaro Martinez, and the 37-year-old Dzeko is both out of contract at the end of the month and is reportedly a target for Fenerbahce.
Whatever results Inzaghi manages to eke out of his team next season the financial issues affecting Inter are not going away any time soon and will hamper their chances of building on their thrilling, if ultimately heart-breaking, Champions League campaign.