Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis revealed he has discussed the possibility of signing Romelu Lukaku, but put talk of a bid being made down to a ploy to drive up the Manchester United striker’s valuation.
The Belgium international appears to be on his way out of Old Trafford in the closing stages of the transfer window after losing his place to Marcus Rashford in the second half of last season.
Lukaku, not used in any of United’s six pre-season friendlies, has previously talked up a “dream” move to Serie A and is wanted by Inter and Italian champions Juventus.
But Inter were unable to agree a fee for the 26-year-old and Juve’s hopes of signing him reportedly depend on Paulo Dybala agreeing to head the opposite way as part of a player-plus-cash deal.
— R.Lukaku Bolingoli9 (@RomeluLukaku9) August 2, 2019
Napoli are the latest club to be linked with Lukaku, with reports coming out of Italy on Saturday suggesting they are willing to offer a cash sum plus striker Arkadiusz Milik.
De Laurentiis confirmed he has talked with Lukaku’s agent, but Napoli have not tabled an offer for his services.
“You know why there are rumours about him? Because I am good friends with his agent, Federico Pastorello, who I often wake up at dawn for a chat,” he told Sky Sport Italia.
“I asked him: ‘Do you think Lukaku would suit Napoli? Is he going to Juventus or not?’ We spoke in those terms, but then we know it’s in the interest of agents to make it seem as if we made an offer, as that raises the price tag for someone else.
“This is why I’d prefer it if the transfer market opened the day after the season ended and closed at the end of July.”
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) July 31, 2019
Napoli have missed out on attacking target Nicolas Pepe, who left Lille for Arsenal earlier this week, but they are still in the running for James Rodriguez, Hirving Lozano and Mauro Icardi.
“Beyond James, Lozano and Icardi, we are also evaluating other names,” De Laurentiis said.
“In negotiations, when everyone knows there is a willingness to buy, they all try to get the best deal. We have to take the environmental factors into account, because signing a player means bringing his family over too.
“Naples is a beautiful city, but for someone who is accustomed to a very different lifestyle, it can be an overwhelming experience to come here. The fans don’t realise that.”
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