Romelu Lukaku completing his return to Inter would make the Nerazzurri favourites to win Serie A next season, according to Milan legend Alessandro Costacurta.
Lukaku is reportedly nearing an Inter comeback less than a year after making a club-record £97.5million move to Chelsea, where he scored just eight Premier League goals as Thomas Tuchel’s men finished third.
The Belgian had scored 30 goals and added 11 assists during his final season with Inter, helping the Nerazzurri end an 11-year wait for a league title as they finished 12 points clear of local rivals Milan.
While the Rossoneri fought back to end their own long Scudetto drought last month, Costacurta believes the return of Lukaku would shift the balance of power in Inter’s favour.
“I think they also were [favourites] last year,” he told Tutto Mercato.
“Inter were the strongest last year and with Lukaku the gap with the others is getting wider.”
Costacurta also expects Juventus to be back in the title mix after they finished fourth in consecutive Serie A seasons but claims the return of Federico Chiesa, who sustained an anterior cruciate ligament injury in January, is more important to their prospects than the potential arrival of Paul Pogba.
“A lot will depend on the recovery of Chiesa, one of the best players in Europe. If he recovers well, Juve will fight against Inter,” the former defender said.
“This will be the blow, the one that most of all can shift the balance. More than Pogba.”
Meanwhile, Milan are reportedly looking to bolster their own attack with moves for departing Liverpool forward Divock Origi and Real Madrid’s Marco Asensio, and Costacurta, who won five European Cup/Champions League titles with the Rossoneri, believes both would be useful additions.
“I have never been in love with him [Origi], but he is a wonderful player,”
“Like [Olivier] Giroud, he will be able to help. They are not extraordinary players.
“But [you need] to have players like that, like Giroud last year.”
On Asensio, Costacurta added: “He is an excellent player, he has a lot of quality.”
Costacurta’s glittering playing career saw him establish a fearsome defensive partnership with Milan’s current technical director Paolo Maldini, and although reports have suggested the Rossoneri legend could leave in the absence of a new contract offer, Costacurta remains confident his old friend will extend his stay.
“I can’t imagine a Milan without Paolo Maldini,” he said. “I don’t think they [the club] are morons and so I imagine that as soon as they can, Maldini will sign.
“And I don’t even ask myself the problem. A radical change of strategy would be harmful.
“It seems to me that everything is going very well. The limited budget leads to a lot of ideas, I wouldn’t worry much about it.”
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