Romelu Lukaku has enjoyed a spectacular first season at Inter Milan but said he was “really close” to joining Juventus last summer, adding Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wanted him to stay at Manchester United.
The 26-year-old made a positive start to live at Old Trafford and scored 27 times in his first 51 appearances for United, but his reputation suffered after netting just 15 times in 45 games during his second campaign.
Lukaku spoke to Arsenal legend Ian Wright via his official YouTube channel as part of an interview series while European football is suspended as a result of the coronavirus pandemic:
"It was close, it was really close [the Juventus transfer], but my mind was always set on Inter and the manager. As a kid I looked up to Adriano, Ronaldo and [Christian] Vieri, who I have a good relationship with now. Obviously when Inter came – and the manager Conte wanted me at Chelsea and when he was at Juve as well – I was like ‘now it’s time to go over there and see what it’s like,’ keep my head down and work.”
The relationship with former Chelsea chief Conte has flourished thus far, with Lukaku—Belgium’s all-time top scorer with 52 goals in 84 international appearances—bagging 23 times in 35 games for the Nerazzurri.
His last goal before the European season was suspended came in the form of a fortunate header against Ludogorets Razgrad during the Europa League round of 32, via Bleacher Report:
Opinion was somewhat divided at Old Trafford in regards to whether United should keep the faith in their £75 million signing from Everton.
Many fans made it clear they wanted the club to sell the player, but Lukaku told Wright the manager remained on his side: ”Ole wanted me to stay but I told him it was over. I didn't have the energy. All credit to him because he's been a man and he helped me make the move away.”
United failed to replace Lukaku at the time and were left light in attack when Marcus Rashford suffered a double-stress back fracture in January, leading the Red Devils to sign Odion Ighalo on loan from Shanghai Shenhua.
Lukaku is contracted at the San Siro until June 2024 and can look forward to challenging for the Scudetto under Conte, though this season’s chances look done after they fell nine points below leaders Juve.