Saturday October 24 2020
Conte: 'Lukaku a different player now'

Antonio Conte maintains Romelu Lukaku is ‘a different player’ after a year at Inter, but is irritated by Christian Eriksen questions. ‘He plays if he deserves to.’

It took some time to break through Genoa’s Catenaccio tactics, but Lukaku and Danilo D’Ambrosio eventually secured the 2-0 victory at Marassi.

“We controlled the game from the start, at times you manage to break through earlier, sometimes you take a while,” Conte told Sky Sport Italia.

“Against Borussia Monchengladbach, the statistics show we only allowed two shots on goal and one was a misplaced pass. We allowed zero shots on target today and kept a clean sheet.

“The team is aware of its strength and we used that today to play with confidence. When you concede three goals from three chances, it means the team has balance, there are just some errors.

“You talk about numbers, I have to make a more clear-headed analysis on the number of chances we actually allow and that’s more important than the goals conceded.”

Alessandro Bastoni returned after dealing with COVID-19 and seemed to make a big difference in the Inter back three.

“Bastoni worked with us last season, so he knows the timing of the movements we need to make systematically. It takes time for newcomers like Aleksandar Kolarov to get the hang of it. Let’s not forget, we had only 10 days of pre-season training, several new players, and in defence especially it takes a while to practice the movements,” continued Conte.

“It’s inevitable that Bastoni knows it better than Kolarov, who was accustomed to a different type of tactical approach. I am happy with Aleks, as he brought character, experience and a lot of quality.

“I do agree that Andrea Ranocchia had a great game this evening, so did Matteo Darmian. Ranocchia hadn’t played in a while, he seemed destined to leave, but this is proof that when you are focused and work hard, you get your chances.”

Lukaku battered down the Genoa defences and broke the deadlock yet again, with his agent claiming the Belgian is now the best centre-forward in the world.

“Romelu is a different player to what he was a year ago. I always said in the past he was a rough diamond that I wanted to work with. He is working and you can see just the way he receives the ball, the way he moves, everything has improved.”

When asked how Eriksen fits into the Inter jigsaw puzzle, Conte became irritated at the line of questioning.

“I think you’re getting too focused on this Eriksen issue, you’ve been underlining and asking about him since January. He is part of the squad, like everyone else, he plays if he deserves it and won’t play if he doesn’t.

“You see Christian’s characteristics, I am trying to get the best out of him, but I don’t like that you keep trying to make me speak ill of Eriksen rather than praise others.

“He is with us, that’s not a problem. It’s inevitable we need to find the right way to get the best out of him, at times it works, at others it doesn’t. We need to work with him and get him to increase the intensity. He’s trying, he’s giving it all, but we can’t keep analysing and underlining how Inter play when Eriksen is on or off the field, the changes when he is substituted. It’s not fair.”