Zhang, 26, appointed Inter Milan president

MILAN (Reuters) - Inter Milan appointed 26-year-old Steven Zhang as their new president on Friday and the Chinese businessman immediately promised to lead the club into a new era.

Zhang, the 21st president in the club’s 110-year history, replaces Indonesian Erick Thohir who was at the helm for five years, during which time Inter failed to win a major title.

Zhang is the son of Zhang Jindong, chairman of China’s electronics retailer Suning Holdings Group which bought a majority stake in the club in 2016.

He has been on the board of directors for the last two years and has effectively been responsible for the day-to-day running of the club.

Three-times European champions Inter have won 18 Serie A titles and the Coppa Italia seven times but have struggled since winning a Champions League, Serie A and Coppa Italia treble under coach Jose Mourinho in 2010.

Luciano Spalletti is their twelfth coach since Mourinho left, with six of those having been employed under Thohir.

They have not finished in the top three of Serie A since 2010-11 while bitter rivals Juventus have won the title for the last seven seasons.

Inter have returned to the Champions League after a six-year absence this season, although that was only after UEFA increased the number of guaranteed Serie A slots in the group stage from two to four.

“I’m very proud today to be able to guide this club towards a new era,” said Zhang in a statement issued by the club.

“We will continue to concentrate above all on our sporting performances, making sure that the team have all the support they need to compete and be successful at the highest level, on national and international stages.”

Inter, who share the municipally-owned San Siro stadium with neighbours and rivals AC Milan, are third in Serie A, although six points adrift of leaders Juventus, and second in their Champions League group.

Zhang said that, like other big European clubs, Inter wanted to appeal to a worldwide audience.

“We will keep enlarging the scope of our business globally and we will continue to explore the possibilities of digital management and digital communications, to make Inter a leader in the field of technology,” he said.

Writing by Brian Homewood; editing by Clare Fallon