Former Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has issued a thinly-veiled dig at Jose Mourinho for his treatment of Romelu Lukaku. Mourinho signed Lukaku for Manchester United in 2017 ahead of Conte, but was unable to get the best from the striker.
Lukaku has emerged as one of the best strikers in the world in recent years.
The Belgian striker bagged 34 goals in 51 games in his debut season at Inter, having signed for £68million in 2019.
He has started the current season with a bang, too, firing seven goals in the opening eight games across all competitions.
Lukaku, now 27, has been at Inter for just over a year but has already become an integral part of Conte’s system.
In just over one season at Inter, he has already scored 41 goals – just one less than he managed in his entire time at United.
The Belgian was criticised during his time at Old Trafford for failing to maintain match fitness, and fell out of favour under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – who had taken over from the sacked Mourinho in December 2018.
Conte attempted to sign Lukaku for Chelsea in 2017 before he ended up heading to Old Trafford.
And the Italian boss – who made Lukaku one of his top targets after taking over at Inter Milan – has revealed he feels the striker’s career would have been different if the Blues had beaten United to his signature.
“For sure, it would have been a different story if I was the coach of Romelu,” Conte told The Telegraph.
“Romelu is an incredible player and he has a lot of space for improvement.
“In one year at Inter, he had a lot of improvement because he wants to learn and I think I am a teacher.
“But he can continue to improve to become one of the best strikers in the world.”
Conte elaborated on his failed attempt to sign the Belgian in 2017, saying he was close to bringing him back to Stamford Bridge.
He added: “I asked for two players and we were very, very close after we won the league.
“One player was Romelu Lukaku, the second player was Virgil van Dijk.
“These two players were very, very close.”
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