Lukaku: Inter-Juve bidding war was close; Conte hammered me in front of everyone

Romelu Lukaku reveals “it was really close” between joining Juventus and Inter, but he is taking every lesson from Antonio Conte. “He hammered me in front of everyone. I could’ve sunk into the ground.”

The former Manchester United striker has made a huge impact with the Nerazzurri, scoring 23 goals in 35 competitive games.

He spoke via Facetime with former Arsenal striker and current sports presenter Ian Wright on his YouTube channel.

Juventus had also engaged in a bidding war with Inter for the Belgium international.

“It was close, it was really close, but my mind was always on Inter and the manager. When I was a kid, I looked up to Adriano, Ronaldo, Christian Vieri and so when Inter came, Conte had wanted me at Chelsea and Juve as well.

Conte, it’s safe to say, pulls no punches in training or during a half-time break.

“We work on patterns of play, so if you get something wrong, he stops everything and goes: ‘What are you doing?’ In front of everyone! He did it to me when we played Slavia Prague, there was this guy playing in a back four and he wins a heavy challenge against me and celebrates like it’s a goal.

“The manager spoke about it for like five minutes, hammering me in front of everybody. Hammering me. I could’ve sunk into the ground. It’s the first time that happened in 10 years of my career. You can either get down or react and I reacted. I made that step of taking criticism in front of everybody and making that step.

Inter have fallen behind Juventus and Lazio in the Scudetto race, although they do have a game in hand.

“It’s not over until it’s over. The problem this season is that when Juventus drop points, we drop points.”

Lombardy is the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in Italy, so Lukaku and all the Inter players have been in lockdown for several weeks.

“I miss the regular life, just being with my Mum, being my son, even being with my brother. It’s bad, because you can’t have normal contact with human beings. I miss training as well, playing in front of fans, and you start to appreciate what you have.

“I’m a lucky guy. You know me and my background, so right now it just makes me think about what I was going through as a kid. You have to be careful, as you might touch someone who has a virus. My mother has diabetes, so she’s a high-risk, I can’t risk bringing it back.”

Lukaku did explain the extent to which Inter and Conte are keeping a close eye on the players, including sending over exercise bikes “within two hours” of a request, while food is sent every day to each individual player to ensure they stay on a “strict diet.”