I never came close to Juventus return, insists Inter boss Conte

By Sports Desk July 23, 2019

Antonio Conte insists he never came close to making a dramatic return to Juventus before his appointment as Inter head coach.

Conte signed a three-year contract to replace Luciano Spalletti at San Siro but had been linked with a return to Juve – who he guided to three titles during his time in charge - following Massimiliano Allegri's departure at the end of the 2018-19 season.

Maurizio Sarri was eventually appointed by the Serie A champions and prior to facing his former club in the International Champions Cup, Conte revealed he did not even speak to Juventus.

"No, I have never been close to becoming Juventus coach again," he told a media conference. "I never received any phone call.

"It was always Inter that showed great affection and great interest in me. I feel great responsibility towards my new club and want to build something that at the moment is not there."

Asked is Sarri was the right man for the job, Conte replied: "If Juve has taken this decision they will have had good reasons. It is not for me to judge."

Wednesday's game in Nanjing will be the first time Conte has faced his former club since his departure and says there will be no love lost once the game kicks off.

"There will be excitement on my part," he said. "It is the first time I have met the Bianconeri as an opponent since my relationship with them ended.

"Seeing so many friends will be exciting but when the whistle goes it will all be over. Juve is an opponent for me and they consider me the same way."

Inter have been heavily linked with a move for Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku during the close season, with Conte already revealing that it is his "will and hope" that a deal is struck for the Belgium international.

When asked if a potential move was any closer, Conte said: "I think that some reflections will be made then decisions will be taken for the good of Inter.

"We will take everything into account. Not only on the field but also in terms of financial fair play. Certainly, decisions can shift the balance and also expectations."

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