Messi to Inter? You don't know what I had to do just to get Lukaku! – Conte

By Sports Desk August 01, 2020

Antonio Conte reiterated his belief that rumours linking Lionel Messi to Inter are a little farfetched, hinting he struggled to even get the club to sign Romelu Lukaku.

Inter closed out a solid 2019-20 Serie A campaign on Saturday, beating Atalanta 2-0 in Bergamo to secure the runner-up spot in Italy's top flight.

That result means they finished just a point adrift of champions Juventus, who lost 3-1 at home to Roma in their final league match.

Having already backed Conte significantly in the transfer market, Inter are expected to further strengthen ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.

One somewhat outlandish report in Italy has claimed Inter are trying to lure Barcelona icon and Ballon d'Or holder Messi away from LaLiga, with his future a little uncertain due to turbulence at Camp Nou.

But Conte will remain realistic, particularly after Inter CEO Giuseppe Marotta likened the rumour to a "utopian" fantasy. 

"Look, only I know what I had to do to get Lukaku," he joked to reporters after the match.

"Trust me, at the end of the season we will make evaluations."

Lukaku, a 2019 arrival from Manchester United, finished his maiden Serie A campaign as Inter's top scorer, having netted 23 times, and Conte paid tribute to the Belgium striker along with his attacking colleagues Lautaro Martinez and Alexis Sanchez.

"He is strong, I was already looking for him at Chelsea but then he went to United," Conte said of Lukaku. "He is an atypical footballer who can be a point of reference, but he can improve.

"Today, I also liked Lautaro and Sanchez. It is thanks to these guys if we scored 81 goals and if we finished second."

Related items

  • Ibrahimovic shows he's a champion when Milan are at their best – Pioli Ibrahimovic shows he's a champion when Milan are at their best – Pioli

    Stefano Pioli praised Zlatan Ibrahimovic for his brace against Bologna and said the forward could star when Milan are at their best.

    Ibrahimovic, 38, scored a brace as Milan started their Serie A season with a 2-0 victory at San Siro, where Bologna's Mitchell Dijks was sent off late on Monday.

    Pioli lauded the forward, but said Ibrahimovic could only shine if Milan were functioning well.

    "When the team works, the individuals are exalted and we have great individuality, then Zlatan is a champion and confirms it every time," the Milan coach told Sky Sport.

    "The team has confidence, he knows how to play even in difficulties. He knows how to sacrifice himself.

    "Then the technical qualities are there and I'm happy that we are able to exploit them."

    Milan battled to a sixth-place finish in Serie A last season and are preparing to face Norwegian side Bodo/Glimt in the Europa League third qualifying round on Thursday.

    Pioli hopes his team can improve on that finish, saying: "We have to be ambitious.

    "Our goal is to continue to grow and improve the position of the last championship.

    "We want to return to Europe, we have a difficult preliminary and then we will prepare the championship at its best."

  • Juventus welcome Morata back to Turin ahead of forward's expected move Juventus welcome Morata back to Turin ahead of forward's expected move

    Juventus welcomed Alvaro Morata back to Turin ahead of the forward's expected return to the Serie A champions.

    Morata is reportedly set to join Juve on loan from Atletico Madrid in a deal that will cost €9million and the Italian club will also apparently have an option to buy the 27-year-old for €45m.

    Juventus, who have been searching for a forward, welcomed Morata back as he landed in Turin.

    "@AlvaroMorata is back in town!" the club wrote on Twitter alongside a picture of the forward.

    Morata is set for his second spell at Juve, where he scored 27 goals in 93 games across two seasons between 2014 and 2016.

    He then returned to Real Madrid for a season before joining Chelsea and later Atletico, where he netted 12 LaLiga goals in 34 games last season.

    With Gonzalo Higuain having left to join Inter Miami, Juve had been linked with the likes of Barcelona's Luis Suarez and Roma's Edin Dzeko.

    Morata's move could pave the way for Suarez, 33, to join Atletico.

    Juve have won nine consecutive Serie A titles and opened their campaign under Andrea Pirlo with a 3-0 win over Sampdoria on Sunday.

  • 'I am like Benjamin Button' jokes Ibrahimovic after dismantling Bologna 'I am like Benjamin Button' jokes Ibrahimovic after dismantling Bologna

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic joked he is like Benjamin Button after he got his Serie A season started with a double in Milan's 2-0 victory over Bologna.

    Ibrahimovic scored a superb header and a fantastic penalty to secure a winning start for Milan, and take his tally of goals for the season to three from two games in all competitions.

    The 38-year-old went close to netting a perfect hat-trick with a left-footed effort from a tight angle, though had to settle for a brace which took his total of goal involvements in opening-day fixtures across Europe's top five leagues to 16 in as many appearances.

    In typical Ibrahimovic fashion, the former Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United star boasted he would have scored more if he was younger, comparing himself to Benjamin Button, the fictional creation of F. Scott Fitzgerald who ages backwards.

    "I am in good shape, I am working, this is the second competitive game of the season," Ibrahimovic told Sky Italia.

    "We won and I could've scored more. If I was 20 years old, I'd have scored another two. I am not old, I am like Benjamin Button, I start old and die young!

    "Kidding aside, the team worked well, we are not at 100 per cent and therefore made some mistakes we usually avoid, but it bodes well.

    "I like having responsibility. The biggest pressure is what I put on myself. I don't want people to talk about my age, I want to be treated at the same level as everyone else. It doesn’t matter if I am 38, I want to be treated like someone aged 20 and do the same work."

    Ibrahimovic scored 10 Serie A goals after re-joining Milan in January last season, helping Stefano Pioli's side secure European football, and he said the Rossoneri's target for this campaign is simple.

    "The objective is to do better than last season," he added. "The young players are working hard, they listen, they have discipline and after the last six months know what they need to do in order to do well, stay concentrated every day.

    "This year, we have to take it one game at a time, play with confidence and treat every match like a cup final."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.