Ausilio: ‘Inter had an agreement to sign Rafael Leao’


Inter director Piero Ausilio, gave a lengthy interview to Libero in which he revealed that the club had an agreement to sign Rafael Leao at one point. The Nerazzurri man also touched on the contract renewals of key players in the Inter squad, as well as the fate of some fringe players and those out on loan

How is the injury?

“I got injured for a good cause; at the first step to enter the field after the derby, I strained my calf. I hoped it was a simple thing, but then I understood it would be a long road. The coach immediately told me, ‘Better you than a player.'”

Can it be said that it was the most serious injury of the season?

“Everything was important, including coordination with the medical department and staff. There is an important working group; victories are achieved because the coach has more resources to choose from.”

What did you think when the derby ended and Inter won the second star?

“On a scale of one to 100, it’s 95% suffering and 5% enjoyment. The day after, we’ve already forgotten everything, and all we talk about is the transfer market, who we’re buying, who we’re selling, and who’s staying.”

What do you think when you open the newspaper and read many names associated with Inter?

“Before, it made me angry because I found it unserious. I think it’s not fair to the players who are here, but it applies to all teams because being questioned every day is not pleasant. It’s about protecting the players. Now I smile because I open the newspapers knowing I’ll find something. Already at 6:30 in the morning, I have an idea of how the day will be.”

At the end of the season, you talked about a closed transfer market. Are you convinced?

“It was a spontaneous response, but also logical when we consider the squad. Last year, we knew it would be long and challenging because we had to change 12 players. When I look at today, instead, I realize there’s little to do. At present, Inter has a competitive and strong squad.”

Will Inter have a larger squad?

“We need to analyze it more deeply. One of the successes and secrets was having the right squad, giving everyone the opportunity to be involved, to train with the idea of being considered. The coach can also work calmly and correctly because during the week, having 4-5 more players can be good with some youngsters, but it’s not positive for established players with experience. I prefer to have the right number and then draw on some young players.”

How many forwards will there be?

“I don’t know; we’ll analyze it later with the coach. We worked well with 4, and I don’t see why we should change. Then we have resources in the squad who can play as forwards, such as Mkhitaryan, who, in addition to having above-average intelligence, can also play as a forward if necessary. We have a brilliant and young coach who currently plays with this system but may adopt something different in the future as he did with Lazio Primavera.”

Someone writes that you asked Gudmundsson for time. Is it true?

“The only thing I confirm is that he’s a quality player, we like him, and other teams like him too. At the moment, our attack is fine. Arnautovic is still under contract, and so is Sanchez. It’s not certain that we can’t continue with him even though his contract is expiring. Then we have Carboni, Sebastiano, and Pio Esposito, we have Satriano, we also need to evaluate all these things.”

What will Carboni’s fate be?

“For his quality, he can easily already be at Inter. What needs to be evaluated is whether it’s fairer to bring him here and give him less space than he deserves or send him to play. We will evaluate it together with the player himself. He has a long contract with Inter, and we’re happy about that.”


Is it easier to sell or renew?

“It has become more difficult to sell well because there are few important transfers. And it’s harder to sell in the middle market. Money is spent on top players and talented young players. In the middle, it’s tough, and the prices that circulate are absurd.”

Will the next market be a zero-cost one?

“It will be like the past years, but we’re not particularly worried. It will be a different market from last year because we only need to tweak certain things. There is no need for sales; it’s about seizing opportunities both in buying and selling. Last year, very favorable situations arose for Onana and Brozovic.”

Tell us about the famous phone call to Lukaku.

“It was a very quick thing; there had been contacts and different signals with the player. When I understood what was happening, we decided to end it more civilly than what was said and written. The only thing that changed the strategies was the choice of Dzeko; they would have taken up each other’s space and playing time, which was not good. We would have extended Dzeko’s contract by a year, and Thuram would have come anyway.”

A player who surprised you?

“Not because of the quality because we were convinced of that. I’m talking about Thuram; we followed him a lot with a huge scouting effort. We thought his ideal position was as a striker and not as a winger. We didn’t want to put pressure on him and wanted to let him grow comfortably in that role; we hoped he could prove himself quickly, and we thought of completing the attack with experienced players like Sanchez and Arnautovic to compensate for Thuram’s late integration. But that didn’t happen.”

Will Arnautovic have other opportunities?

“I think he was influenced by some physical problems. Despite many things I read and hear, we’re happy with Arnautovic. He did what he had to do and made an important contribution not only on the field. The truth is, they found themselves facing two formidable players. Arnautovic himself told me this; he said, ‘You have two incredible champions, and I make myself available.’ We are also satisfied with the work he did in that locker room, a job that no one sees but we directors see.”


What is the status of Lautaro’s renewal?

“The situation is normal, which happens in all clubs when renewing an important player. It takes time because these contracts change things, but there is both the club’s and the player’s willingness. We need to find the economic balance; we are still looking for it, but there is no hurry because the contract expires in 2026.”

And Barella’s?

“There are more or less the same dynamics, with continuity in relationships. I’ve known Beltrami (Barella’s agent) for 30 years; it’s something that could come sooner than Lautaro’s.”

Inzaghi’s extension?

“It’s a formality; we haven’t even talked about it. We’ll sit down at a table and solve it in 5 minutes.”

Is the most important market in November?

“In recent years, we have seized important opportunities with this type of market. In the Champions League final, we had 7 players who didn’t cost anything.”

How did you convince Mkhitaryan and Calhanoglu?

“With Mkhitaryan, we had to work harder because he was doing well at Roma and also thought about renewing

Perhaps they missed the right moment, and in his mind, certain things should have come earlier. He’s such a serious guy that he wasn’t happy to leave at all. As for Calhanoglu,

unfortunately, there was the drama of Eriksen; in that moment of anguish, we realized we had also lost a player. We were smart in understanding with Inzaghi what opportunity to seize from the market. Hakan had something in Spain, and we convinced him with a phone call. He spoke with us and the coach; we explained the project, and in a short time, we convinced him.”

Did you imagine Dimarco to be so strong?

“No, if I say yes, I’m lying… The great merit was never to give up on the player even after 5 years of loan spells and several injuries. There were coaches who said he could never play for Inter; I won’t mention names, but it’s something that happens often. Now two are starters at Inter. Who was really enlightened about him and saw things we hadn’t seen was Simone Inzaghi. After three training sessions, he said, ‘This one doesn’t move from here.'”

Was Leao close to Inter?

“True, he was close to Inter. Very, very close. We had the agreement with Lille, an agreement found quite quickly in a meeting in London with the club’s owner. Then we didn’t pursue the agreement; we didn’t even get to talk to the player too deeply, but I won’t tell you why.”

The Bisseck of the future?

“We already have some ideas, then for Bisseck, there was space because there was a slot to fill.”

Will a defender arrive?

“Today, there are no exits planned; nobody has asked me to leave, and the defense is fine as it is. I hear there are old players, but if the old ones are like Acerbi, Darmian, and Mkhitaryan, I’ll keep them for life.”


“I like him a lot, but I like many others, and I can’t take them all. In that position, I’m fine.”

You wake up on September 1: are you happier to have made a capital gain or not to have sold anyone?

“I’m happier if I have the opportunity to continue working with this group, with the goal of always being competitive.”


Serie A obsessive.