Soccer-Skriniar no longer Inter captain says Inzaghi ahead of Milan derby

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Serie A - Inter Milan v Napoli - San Siro, Milan, Italy - January 4, 2023 Inter Milan's Milan Skriniar celebrates after the match REUTERS/Alberto Lingria

(Reuters) - Inter Milan defender Milan Skriniar will no longer wear the captain's armband, manager Simone Inzaghi said on Saturday, with the Slovakia international set to run down his contract and leave the Serie A club for free at the end of the season.

Skriniar, who has made nearly 250 appearances for Inter since joining the club in 2017, was linked with a January move to Paris St Germain but the two clubs did not work out a deal before the transfer window closed on Tuesday.

Inter had reportedly rejected bids of more than 50 million euros ($53.97 million) last year but will now lose the 27-year-old for free in the close season.

"I do not judge his choices, but I judge the man and the player. He is a wonderful guy, he works very well every day. He will probably be a starter in the game," Inzaghi told reporters ahead of Sunday's derby against AC Milan.

"Regarding the captain's armband, we have hierarchies. Because of what happened, Skriniar will no longer be the captain, but it was discussed quietly with the club and the boy.

"The captain is Samir Handanovic, then there are also others like Marcelo Brozovic and Lautaro Martinez."

Inter are second in the standings -- 13 points adrift of runaway leaders Napoli -- while Milan are fifth, two points behind their city rivals.

Milan have not won in four league games and were beaten 3-0 by Inter in Italy's Supercup, but Inzaghi is not taking things lightly against the league champions.

"Well, clearly derbies are all stories in themselves. In this year-and-a-half we've played so many, six of them. The cup matches allowed us to win two important trophies, the league games were disappointments," he said.

Milan have won their last two Serie A derbies against Inter and are looking to make it three in a row for the first time since four straight league victories between 2002 and 2004.

After Milan prevailed 3-2 in the reverse fixture back in September, they could also do a league double over Inter for the first time since the 2010-11 campaign.

"Derbies are special matches," added Inzaghi. "Milan is in a moment that is not positive, but we're talking about the Italian champions which made it to the Champions League last-16 after a long time.

"They have quality and I respect it a lot, we know that we will find it in a particular moment... We will need a lot of running and determination, along with a lot of focus."

($1 = 0.9265 euros)

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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