The start of Inter’s summer mercato has been nothing short of remarkable. The Nerazzurri made a serious statement with Antonio Conte’s appointment shortly after the 2018-19 season ended and they haven’t taken a step back since then.
Snapping up a defensive lynchpin like Diego Godin on a free transfer surely looks like a bargain, while the arrival of two of Italy’s brightest midfield talents in Stefano Sensi and Nicolò Barella also speak clearly about the conviction of the Nerazzurri project.
Valentino Lazaro’s €20m transfer from Hertha Berlin should also add some much-needed depth and creativity out wide, but for all of their strides in other areas, Inter still have one huge gap to fill and that’s undoubtedly up top.
The rapport between La Beneamata and ex-captain Mauro Icardi has hit an all-time low, as the club made it clear that they’ve had enough with the Argentinian and his wife-agent’s off-field shenanigans.
With Icardi’s departure now being only a matter of time, the Nerazzurri will rely heavily on his fellow countryman Lautaro Martinez to lead the line next term. However, it is no secret that Conte prefers to play with two in attack, which means that Inter do not have a proper partner for Lautaro upfront.
Beppe Marotta and co decided not to execute their €34m option on Keita BaldeDiao, while negotiations with Roma for Edin Dzeko have proved to be far more complicated than initially anticipated.
With the Bosnian turning 34 next year and still commanding a significant transfer fee and a hefty salary, it’s not surprising to see Inter stepping up their interest in Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku.
Although considerably more expensive than Dzeko, the Belgian only recently turned 26, and despite being heavily criticised for his performances under Jose Mourinho, Lukaku has still netted a respectable 42 goals in 96 appearances for the Red Devils.
Among the reasons that make Lukaku a good fit for Inter is the fact that motivation is a huge factor in his game. It is no secret that the powerful forward had a complicated relationship with Mourinho, starting all the way back from his Chelsea days.
It is also well-known that Conte has been a long-time admirer of Lukaku’s talents, as well as a fan of fielding a powerful target man next to a more mobile forward in attack. All this makes perfect sense for Inter,especially in the post-Icardi era, as despite being one of the deadliest finishers around, unlike Lautaro and Lukaku, Icardi offers little else.
The potential arrival of Lukaku would give Conte the perfect tools to build a new, more powerful and modern-looking Inter, allowing the club to evolve from the one-dimensional Icardi-led frontline.
The most obvious thing that Lukaku would add to Conte’s new look attack would be pure strength. The Antwerp-born striker possesses a juggernaut type of physique, which allows him to outmuscle even the toughest of defenders without much effort, not to mention winning an impressive 2.9 aerial duels per game in the Premier League last term. That number matches the combined tally of both Icardi and Martinez, which means that Inter would finally have a dangerous aerial outlet up front.
Lukaku’s ability to drift out wide and drag defenders out of position would also open spaces for Lautaro, something that was just not possible when the 21-year-old was playing alongside Icardi. Uncharacteristically for his size, the Belgian actually possess good dribbling and crossing ability and is a natural left-footer, which makes him a tricky customer for any opposition.
In fact, the potential Lukaku-Lautaro partnership would probably look a lot like the Graziano Pelle-Eder duo that Conte used with remarkable success for Italy. However, considering that the Belgian and Martinez are much more versatile and better individually than the former Nazionale duo, they would pretty much be an upgraded version.
Aside from the €85m price tag that Manchester United have put on him, the biggest concern surrounding Lukaku is his fitness. The Belgium international has the frustrating tendency to gain an extra pound or two, especially when not playing regularly, but considering how good Conte is in preparing his players, this should not be an issue.
Lukaku’s first touch is another weakness of his, as he averages almost two unsuccessful touches per game, which is higher than Icardi, but actually lower than Lautaro’s 2.1 tally. This highlights probably the biggest problem in the prospect of the Lukaku-Lautaro pair, but this is something that can definitely be fixed in training, especially considering Conte’s maniacal methods.
In conclusion it can be said that despite the hefty fee that he would command and the flaws in his game, Romelu Lukaku would be a perfect fit not only for Inter, but also for Lautaro Martinez. The Conte effect could get the best out of the currently underperforming Belgian and would allow Inter to unlock the potential of their young Argentinian gem.
The Nerazzurri already invested heavily in the former Racing prospect and bringing in a player of Lukaku’s pedigree and abilities to play alongside him would be the perfect way to cement their faith in Lautaro Martinez.