Conte continues to yearn for Lukaku
Inter Milan coach insists that 'frustration' is too strong a word to describe how he feels as Inter fail to sign the Manchester United striker
Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte has expressed his desire to land his No. 1 transfer target, Romelu Lukaku, as a deal between the Italian giants and Manchester United continues to stall.
Inter are yet to meet United’s £90 million (S$153m) valuation of the 26-year-old striker, although the Italian side's sporting director Piero Ausilio flew to London last week in an attempt to broker a deal with United's officials.
Since joining the Red Devils from Everton for £75m in 2017, the Belgian has bagged 42 goals in 96 appearances in all competitions. He has flown to Singapore with United for the International Champions Cup (ICC) match against Inter on Saturday (July 20), but is expected to miss his third straight pre-season match due to injury.
At Friday’s press conference at the National Stadium, Conte was asked if he was frustrated at Inter’s failure to sign Lukaku.
“Frustration is a big word,” Conte said. “You know I like this player. In the past, when I was Chelsea manager (from 2016 to 2018), I tried to bring him there.
“As I said before, I like this player and consider him an important player for us to have a good improvement but, at the same time, there is a transfer market.
“We know very well what our situation is at the moment and we will see what happens.
“At this moment... It’s not right to talk about Lukaku, because he’s a player of United.”
LACK OF OPTIONS
With Lautaro Martinez not ready to figure in pre-season training following his exertions at the Copa America with Argentina and Mauro Icardi’s exclusion from the tour of Asia, it is clear why Conte is keen to get Lukaku on board.
“The situation is very clear, the club were very clear that Icardi is out of Inter’s project. This is the reality,” said Conte, who added that midfielder Radja Nainggolan is also “out of the project”.
Despite the San Siro outfit signing winger Valentino Lazaro from Hertha Berlin, midfielder Nicolo Barella from Cagliari and Uruguay defender Diego Godin from Atletico Madrid, Conte felt that Inter “have delayed in the transfer market”.
It seems such factors have tempered the former Italy coach’s expectations of the season ahead, despite Inter vice-president Javier Zanetti saying that “this is a very important year for us... Inter have big ambitions”.
Jose Mourinho, who led Inter to the Treble in 2010 and was the last coach to deliver the Serie A title for the Nerazzurri, had also said that Conte’s side “have to win Serie A this season” before adding “I’m sure they will”.
To these ambitious proclamations, Conte replied: “Until now, our communication is to lead with ambition. This must be our target.
“But we must know that, on the other side (transfer dealings), there are factors... At this moment, it is very difficult to predict or to keep the same ambition.”