Inter boss Antonio Conte says Romelu Lukaku would improve his side, but admits there are factors standing in the way of him signing the striker from Manchester United.
Inter are keen on the Belgian but are yet to meet United’s valuation of the player, who cost them £75m to sign from Everton two years ago.
He will not play for United against Inter in Singapore on Saturday.
“You know I like this player,” said Conte.
“In the past when I was Chelsea’s coach [from 2016 to 2018] 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.”
Inter’s move for Lukaku is thought to hinge on the future of Mauro Icardi, who has not travelled on the club’s summer tour of Asia amid reports he is to leave.
When asked about the Argentine striker, Conte replied: “The situation is very clear, the club was very clear that Icardi is out of Inter’s project. This is the reality.”
When pressed on Lukaku’s future at United, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he had “no more updates”.
Lukaku missed both United’s tour matches in Australia due to injury and Solskjaer says he will remain absent.
“He’s not fit. He won’t be available,” said the United boss.
The 26-year-old did not play an active part in training on Friday, instead undergoing some individual fitness work before making his way to the bench, where he sat next to a United staff member for over half an hour.
‘Glimpses of the new Martial’
Solksjaer praised forward Anthony Martial’s work rate and said his attitude in pre-season training had been “absolutely spot on”.
The 23-year-old Frenchman scored 10 goals in 27 Premier League appearances last season, including two against Chelsea in October.
But Solksjaer said there have been “glimpses of the new Anthony” and expects a better 2019-20 season.
“Anthony can be a world-class forward,” said Solksjaer. “There’s a couple of glimpses of the new Anthony in the way he works for the team. He has got the talent and his work rate is improving.
“I expect him and Marcus [Rashford] to be even better than last season. Anthony had a top season when he came, [and was] top scorer, then he has had a couple of seasons where he’s not hit the same amount of goals and quality, so I think it will be a better Anthony this year.”
Improving on last season
Midfielder Nemanja Matic, who joined Solksjaer in the press conference in Singapore, was critical of United’s performance in the Premier League last season.
The Serbian said the team had failed to achieve their target of securing a Champions League spot and Matic admitted he was “not happy” at the end of the campaign.
“It was not a good season for all of us,” said Matic. “This season we have to do better, do more, because playing for Manchester United, you have to fight for trophies.
“We know that very well so we expect this season to be better. I’m sure we’ll be ready for the challenge. Last season I had some problems with injuries but I was not happy with my form.
“We finished the season and I was not happy but this season I start with the team and we will see. At the moment, I feel great and will continue to train hard to help the team.”
Solskjaer said he expected this season to be “closer” and he doesn’t think Manchester City and Liverpool will finish on 98 and 97 points again.
“The Premier League is a very competitive league and those teams last season were exceptional to get 97 and 98 points,” said Solskjaer.
“Six teams want Champions League places and want to win the league but we have to focus on ourselves, be better, improve, make sure United is our only focus and get closer to the top.”
The Norwegian also spoke about the important of starting the season well and said the coaching staff have “worked the players hard” in Perth and Singapore.
“I don’t think many players have had a pre-season like this before. For Nemanja [Matic] it’s a first pre-season in a little while. In the first eight to 10 games you can lose the chance to win so the first two months are vital.”