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Conte calls Lukaku an “important” part of his plans at Inter

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So much for diplomacy. Antonio Conte is downright recruiting Romelu Lukaku to join him at Inter Milan, and he’s doing it through the press for all to hear.

[ MORE: Pochettino might have left if Spurs won Champions League ]

The rumors linking Lukaku with a move away from Manchester United have been swirling all summer, but as of yet the two clubs haven’t been past the “bid(s) made and rejected” portion of proceedings. As such, Conte is prepared to go a step further in courting the 26-year-old Belgian, stating his longstanding admiration and calling him “an important players for us” — quotes from the BBC:

“You know I like this player. In the past, when I was Chelsea’s coach, I tried to bring him to Chelsea.

“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 there is a transfer market.

“We know very well which is our situation at the moment and we will see what happens but for now Lukaku is a United player.”

Man United paid $96 million for Lukaku just two years ago, so it would be unwise to expect them to let him leave for anything short of $80 million, if Inter are lucky.

Inter offering Lukaku $12.5M per season upon Man Utd switch

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No wonder Romelu Lukaku is intrigued by Inter Milan.

The 26-year-old is being offered a reported $51 million over four years by the Serie A giants should Manchester United agree to sell the big Belgian striker.

[ MORE: Sturridge punished ]

Sky Sports says that Lukaku’s absence from United’s friendly defeat of Leeds was “the start” of his departure from the Old Trafford set, though the two sides’ valuations of the player still differ by around $20 million.

United wants around $100 million for Lukaku.

Lukaku is coming off his worst season. He scored 12 goals in 32 Premier League appearances and two more in nine Champions League runs. The Belgian has been a magnet for six or seven assists a season, but only produced one this year.

United and Inter play Saturday in Singapore as a part of the International Champions Cup. Will a deal be done by then?

Lukaku misses Man United training as Inter talks continue

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Romelu Lukaku didn’t train with Manchester United in Australia on Thursday as Inter Milan continue with talks to sign the Belgian forward.

It has been reported that Piero Ausilio, Inter’s sporting director, is meeting with Man United officials in London over the next 24 hours and the fact that Lukaku didn’t train with the Red Devils squad on Thursday in Australia will certainly raise eyebrows.

The reason given for Lukaku’s absence was that he was completing a gym session while the rest of the squad trained out on the pitch in an open session in front of fans.

Lukaku, 26, has spoken about his love for Italy and Serie A in the past and it is believed that Inter’s new head coach Antonio Conte wants to make Lukaku his main man up top.

It is believed that Inter have offered an initial two-year loan of Lukaku which would then see them buy him in the summer of 2021 for $78 million. That means United will recoup the vast majority of the $90 million that paid Everton for Lukaku in the summer of 2017, but they will have to wait for the cash.

Per reports, Inter will pay $13 million this summer, then two instalments of $32.5 million over the next two summers. Transfer deals are usually structured in a way where fees are paid in instalments over a period of time, so this isn’t surprising. Inter may also have certain financial fair play requirements they have to met considering they have already spent over $69 million this summer on new players.

Lukaku was surplus to requirements for a large chunk of last season at United as Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard became mainstays under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

With Alexis Sanchez also set to be given a fresh start, now seems like a good time for Lukaku and United to part way. The Belgian forward was heckled by his own fans at times last season and despite his impressive return of 42 goals in 96 games in all competitions, his hold-up play and consistency against the top six teams continues to be questioned.

The sooner this deal gets done the better, as United will be able to use the cash to strengthen in other areas. They are well-stocked in attack and need reinforcements at center back and in central midfield. Selling Lukaku makes sense.

Milan clubs submit $1.3 billion stadium plan

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MILAN (AP) – AC Milan and Inter Milan formally want to build a new stadium.

The storied Milan soccer clubs jointly asked city officials Wednesday for permission to go ahead with a 60,000-seat stadium replacing the iconic, publicly owned San Siro.

The clubs said they plan to pay for a $1.35 billion project to become a “sports, entertainment, and shopping” hub creating 3,500 jobs.

“This is a comprehensive project that foresees private investments of over 1.2 billion euros,” the clubs said, adding it was “essential in bringing Milan’s football back to the elite of the European and global football arena.”

A new stadium would be a symbol of regeneration after periods of decline since AC Milan won the last of its seven European titles in 2007, and Inter won its third and most recent European title in 2010.

After years of speculation and analysis about the 80,000-capacity San Siro’s future, the clubs decided building a new arena next to the city-owned Guiseppe Meazza stadium is a better option. Playing through, and paying for, a complete stadium renovation offers less certainty.

The technical and economic study submitted Wednesday comes 16 days after Milan was picked as the 2026 Winter Games host in a joint bid with Alpine ski resort Cortina d’Ampezzo.

San Siro was proposed by bid leaders to the International Olympic Committee to stage the opening ceremony.

Still, there are more stages to pass before this feasibility study becomes a detailed stadium plan.

The clubs said their formal request “aims at obtaining the declaration of public interest from the Municipality of Milan.”

A detailed architectural design would follow later that “honors Milan’s reputation for innovation and internationalization.”

“The proposal to the local institutions marks a first official step by the clubs,” they said, “beginning a shared journey together with the Municipality toward constructing a modern, sustainable and accessible urban district in the San Siro area, built around a new world-class stadium.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Solskjaer defends Pogba, says Man United don’t need to sell

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has defended Paul Pogba‘s attitude and commitment as the French superstar continues to push for a move away from Manchester United.

Following his agent Mino Raiola saying that “hopefully there will soon be a satisfying solution for all parties” after he announced that he was “in the process” of arranging a transfer for Pogba from United, Solskjaer was asked about Pogba’s situation during their preseason tour in Australia.

He appeared to give Raiola what he wanted, as the so-called ‘super agent’ had suggested that United hadn’t done enough to stop reports about Pogba’s poor attitude off the pitch.

“Paul has never been a concern for me. When he is on the pitch, he is working hard, he is a true professional and he is a proud boy,” Solskjaer said. “I can’t be sitting here talking about Paul all the time and what agents are saying. We have got a few years left of his contract and, for me, he has been fantastic when he has come back in training. There is an agenda against Paul but he is a top, top bloke. He is a great professional, there have never been any problems and he has got a heart of gold.”

Solskjaer then went on to confirm that as far as he knows the likes of Real Madrid and Juventus haven’t bid for Pogba.

He also said United haven’t received offers for any other players, including Romelu Lukaku who is said to be wanted by Inter Milan, and they will not be forced into selling any of their players.

“Well there has been loads of talks and speculation, about many of our players – both ins and outs. For me, it is business as usual,” Solskjaer said. “When you are at Man United you expect these things to pop up in the summer. I have spoken to Pogba and spoken to Romelu. I have spoken to all of the players over the summer, as you do.

“As far as I’m aware we don’t have any bids for any of our players. Most of our players have got long contracts. We are Man United – we do not have to sell players.”

That last line is perhaps the most important.

Solskjaer defending Pogba seems like a message to Real or Juve that they must pay what they want for him, otherwise he is going nowhere. At least that is United’s stance. They will not let such a hugely valuable asset, on and off the pitch, leave for anything less than they think he is worth.

Pogba, 26, has two years left on his contract (with an option of a further year) and this summer is the best chance United have of getting the $110 million back they paid for him in the summer of 2016.

This is a strong stance from Solskjaer and leaves the possibility open that Pogba could well be a United player when the transfer window shuts on Aug. 8.

In terms of incomings Solskjaer also said United “don’t have to overpay” when it comes to signing new players and they hope to do some more business this summer.

Turns out Solskjaer is standing firm as United aim to play hard ball when it comes to selling and buying players. That would be a huge chance in stance compared to most of their dealings under Ed Woodward in recent years.