Mourinho reignites Conte feud over Internazionale’s pursuit of Eriksen

David Hytner
Photograph: Matthew Childs/Action Images via Reuters

José Mourinho has reignited his feud with Antonio Conte by accusing him of meddling in Christian Eriksen’s proposed transfer from Tottenham to Internazionale. Spurs are ready to sell Eriksen to the Serie A club, with the midfielder having indicated he will not renew a contract that expires in June.

But Mourinho is frustrated at the stories that say Inter are confident of signing Eriksen and he believes that Conte is behind them. He suggested his managerial rival, with whom he clashed on numerous occasions when he was in charge at Manchester United and the Italian was at Chelsea, had broken a managerial code that relates to speaking publicly about a player from another club and he also suspects that Conte has briefed about Eriksen in private.

Inter have offered €10m (£8.5m) for Eriksen and they are prepared to go higher, with sources in Italy claiming a deal has been agreed at €15m. Eriksen wants to sign a four-and-a-half-year contract, worth up to €18m a year. But Mourinho said Inter had not made an offer, perhaps meaning they had not made a serious one, and he added that Eriksen would be selected for the Saturday lunchtime kick-off at Watford.

Mourinho was asked who at Inter had been quoted on Eriksen. “I think Antonio, I think Antonio,” he replied. “I think it was publicly. He is very positive that Eriksen is coming to Inter.

“We shouldn’t speak about players from other clubs until they become our players. You ask me about Gedson [Fernandes, Spurs’ new signing from Benfica] since the moment Gedson’s name was on the screen and I told you nothing [until he signed]. You protect everybody. Is it a question of respect? I don’t want to give you a headline. That’s up to you.

“If Inter are confident, they are confident because they are ready to make us an offer, which didn’t happen yet. So when I see people speaking, especially people with responsibilities, I am a little bit surprised.”

Mourinho, in effect, wants Inter to put up the money for Eriksen or shut up, although Conte will be bemused by the attack on him, even if he did comment on the player this week. “Eriksen? We’ll have to go for people whose contract is coming to an end,” Conte said. “All this must be done with humility, remembering there is fair play to respect.”

The Inter sporting director, Piero Ausilio, has acknowledged Eriksen and another target, Olivier Giroud of Chelsea. “We have confidence in our work and not only for these two players,” he said.

Mourinho, who led Inter to Champions League glory in 2010, is frustrated with them and Conte because he believes that Eriksen has been unsettled. “This is not my Inter,” he added. “My Inter was Moratti Inter [when Massimo Moratti was the chairman]. I have no connection with the people [there now].”

Mourinho confirmed Fernandes would be in the squad at Watford and said he is still seeking a new centre-forward. “We miss that target man,” he said.