The France midfielder, who cost Inter €35m when they signed him from Monaco, has struggled to adapt to life in Italy and spent the past few games either leaving or joining the substitutes’ bench. Mancini, however, said the club are fully behind the 22-year-old and expect him to overcome his difficulties.
“I believe Geoffrey will become a great midfielder,” said the Inter coach. “We all hold him in high esteem. He shouldn’t be worrying. Van Basten, Platini and plenty of other players had some difficulties when they first started playing in Italy.”
Hailed as a key player for Inter when he in the summer, Kondogbia has instead found the Italians’ disciplined, tactical approach to football tougher than expected. Playing among Mancini’s three-man midfield, in a 4-3-2-1 or 4-3-1-2 formation, has not helped either.
Kondogbia was replaced by Andrea Ranocchia at half-time in a stunning 4-1 defeat at home to Fiorentina last month and, in Inter’s next league outing, was replaced by Jonathan Biabiany late in the second half in a 1-1 draw at Sampdoria. Kondogbia was left on the bench last week when Inter welcomed champions Juventus to the San Siro, only making a cameo appearance at the death before the game finished scoreless.
It was only when Mancini adopted a 4-2-3-1 for the Berlusconi Trophy against AC Milan in midweek, a friendly fixture played to honour the father of Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi, that Kondogbia shined.
Playing just in front of the defence, Kondogbia scored the goal that earned a second string Inter side. It was the Frenchman’s first goal since he helped fire Monaco into the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League last February.
“He played well besides scoring the goal,” said Mancini, who added that Kondogbia should not be worried about his time spent on the subs’ bench. “It will happen to others too because we’ll be playing three times in a week.”