Romelu Lukaku’s future could become clearer this week with Inter Milan sporting director Piero Ausilio in the UK for talks with Manchester United officials.
The Belgian striker is a key summer target for New Inter Milan manager Antonio Conte but his price has proved a stumbling so far in negotiations with United holding out for a cash-only £75m fee.
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According to Sky in Italy, Inter Milan are offering £63m (€70m) for Lukaku. That offer is a two-year loan deal with an obligation to buy. Under the terms United would receive an initial loan fee of £9m (€10m) with further payments of £27m (€30m) in June, 2020 and £27m (€30m) in June, 2021.
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The pressure is on the Nerazzurri to raise the funds needed for the transfer because Serie A rivals Juventus are now showing an interest in the striker.
With the two sides set to meet on Thursday to discuss terms, Sky Sports News reporter Paul Gilmour examines some key questions surrounding the deal.
What is the significance of Thursday’s UK meeting?
The fact it’s a face-to-face meeting is significant. However, only the Inter Milan sporting director Piero Ausilio has arrived in the UK. The CEO Beppe Marotta and Lukaku’s agent Federico Pastorello will not be in attendance so, while face to face talks is a development, this deal is not at an advanced stage.
This is essentially a meeting that both parties will attempt to suss the other out. United want a minimum of £75m in cash but Inter’s only proposal far has been a smaller fee for a two-year loan with an obligation to buy for a much larger sum spread over the next couple of years. The total of that deal comes in short of United’s valuation.
Is there a chance something could be agreed on Thursday?
Given how far the clubs are apart it’s not likely but naturally United will try and bring this deal into line with what they want.
We know Inter need to raise funds if they’re to make a big cash only deal and they are mindful that they have been punished in the past for FFP breaches. They will no doubt be exploring if there is any middle ground but if both clubs stand firm this could drag on.
Who has the upper hand in negotiations?
This could depend on the player. We are told Lukaku wants to move. He was not happy in the second half of last season, did not feel valued and was made to feel like second choice striker at the club.
So if he is told he must stay, and remember his contract runs until 2022, how will he react? He’s been professional up until now but will that last if no agreement is reached? It’s something United will have to consider but equally the length of contract puts them in a strong position.
As for Inter, they are aware of interest from rivals Juventus so does that crank up the pressure on them or even invite last-minute attention from other clubs? In addition, Antonio Conte has made Lukaku his key target so they will risk disappointing their new boss if a deal is not done.
We will have to wait and see which club blinks first!
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(c) Sky News 2019: Romelu Lukaku: What’s next as Manchester United and Inter Milan begin talks?