Conte coveted Lukaku, 26, two years ago when he was Chelsea manager but sources close to the Belgian striker have told the MEN his agent at the time, Mino Raiola, scuppered a deal and Lukaku became Raiola’s fourth client to join United in successive summers. Lukaku changed agents this season.
Chelsea ended up buying Alvaro Morata – United’s back-up option – but the Spaniard struggled in the Premier League and was loaned to Atletico Madrid midway through this season. The MEN previously reported Inter appeal to Lukaku amid the possibility the club would appoint Conte, though they have not qualified for the Champions League yet.
United paid Everton £75million rising up to £90m for Lukaku two years ago and he could cost Inter a similar fee, despite scoring only 15 club goals in his second United campaign. Lukaku is contracted to United until 2022 and the club has the option of an additional year.
Lukaku only started 15 of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s 29 games in temporary and permanent charge and the Belgium international said late last month he did not know if he would be at United next season. Lukaku is understood to have felt marginalised by Solskjaer’s managing of the squad.
Lukaku had no intention of leaving United under Jose Mourinho amid speculation surrounding a possible move to Italy and agreed to address the media for the October Champions League pre-match press conference against Juventus with the intention of quashing rumours.
However, Lukaku is now open to a move to Serie A over issues with Solskjaer’s selections and the Belgian’s confidants believe the present situation ‘could bring him away’ from United.
Inter are expected to embark on an extravagant spending spree in an attempt to end Juventus’s domestic dominance and Lukaku would effectively replace their irascible number nine Mauro Icardi. Ironically, Lukaku could link up with Ivan Perisic, the winger former Inter coach Jose Mourinho wanted to supplement Lukaku with at United two years ago.
After the 1-1 draw with Chelsea on April 28, Lukaku said: “I don’t know [if I am staying], I am not here to entertain rumours. I am still under contract.”
Lukaku’s agent Federico Pastorello said last month: “He sees a way to have a career playing in different countries because he would like to win some trophies and prove himself and say to his children: ‘I won there and I won there and I won there’ and ‘I was a very good player in all the top championships’.
“So let’s see. The future is really very open but, at the moment, we don’t discuss about that because really the season is in a big moment.”