Inter head coach Roberto Mancini is confident Geoffrey Kondogbia will become a key figure for the club once he has fully adapted to life in Serie A.
The France international joined Inter from Monaco ahead of the 2015-16 campaign, but has yet to really live up to the high expectations.
Kondogbia’s underwhelming performances have seen him receive his fair share of criticism, yet Mancini has defended the 22-year-old ahead of Sunday’s Serie A encounter with Juventus.
“Geoffrey is a fantastic player and we hold high hopes for him. He’s young and just needs a bit of time,” Mancini said at a news conference.
“We will give him time to grow and learn to understand the Italian game.”
Inter hold an eight-point lead over Juve heading into Sunday’s encounter at San Siro and Mancini is keen to widen the gap to their rivals, even though he realises the reigning champions will not be pushovers.
“We hope to win, but I don’t feel any pressure because what matters is where we finish at the end of the season. Juventus are an excellent team, there’s no one player in particular we should fear. They’re all above average.
“Beating Juventus now could show us whether we’re able to stay up there at the top. A win on Sunday would be great for morale, which is important for all teams.
“It’s a long, hard season for all of us and anyone can lose or draw over the next 31 matches. I don’t think anyone will go and win them all.
“We’re second in a tight table with Juventus, Roma and Napoli behind us. We need to play relaxed but with the utmost concentration because there are hidden dangers in every single game.”