This article is part of Football FanCast’s Transfer Focus series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent transfer news…
As quoted by Sky Sports, Inter manager Antonio Conte has admitted that Romelu Lukaku would be an “important player” for the side amid speculation linking the Manchester United striker with a move.
Reports in recent weeks have suggested that the Nerazzurri could be in line to make a move for the Belgium international this summer, but that United are intent on getting more than the £75m they initially paid to bring him to Old Trafford.
As the two teams rather ironically met on Saturday in a pre-season friendly, Conte confirmed the Italian side are very much interested in signing Lukaku, but that they would wait and see over the coming weeks.
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He said: “Lukaku is United’s player and this is the reality. You know very well that I like this player, also in the past when I was Chelsea’s coach and I tried to bring him. But I repeat: today Lukaku is a player of United. I have great respect for United.
“I consider him an important player for us to have a good improvement. We know which is our situation; we will see what happens.”
As managers look to adhere to the rules and avoid allegations of tampering, Conte’s rather open comments on his admiration for Lukaku, and that the striker would be an “important player” for Inter, are certainly startling.
Reports of the Serie A giants’ interest in the forward are well documented, but United have so far remained steadfast in their approach of trying to make a profit on the man they signed just two years ago.
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Conte’s comment perhaps was his way of attempting to force the issue and potentially get Lukaku himself to try and push for a move. The Belgian has so far remained tight-lipped on his future unlike his United teammate Paul Pogba, and so Conte’s comments could be the catalyst in getting him to force the Red Devils’ hand.
One thing is for sure, the Inter manager’s public words are unlikely to go down well with the United hierarchy and Lukaku’s future could go down to the very wire of the summer transfer window.