Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku headlined the list of Serie A's MVP winners for the 2020-21 season.

Ronaldo finished the campaign as the leading scorer in the competition, netting 29 times across 33 appearances for Juventus to be named the most valuable forward.

Lukaku ranked second in the scorer's list with 24 goals from 36 outings, though the Belgium striker did provide 11 assists compared to Ronaldo's tally of three as he was named "the best overall" MVP.

Both forwards only netted one goal from outside the area and scored six penalties apiece, while Lukaku had a better shot conversion rate than Ronaldo – 25 per cent compared to 17.26 - as he helped Inter finish as champions.

 

Meanwhile, Gianluigi Donnarumma – whose future remains unclear as his contract at Milan nears an end – was selected as the top goalkeeper.

No other keeper played more games than the 22-year-old (37), while his tally of 14 clean sheets was level with Inter's Samir Handanovic for most in the league.

Cristian Romero was named as the best defender after a fine season with Atalanta, while Inter's Italy international Nicolo Barella scooped the midfield MVP honour.

Barella played 36 times for Antonio Conte's champions, scoring three goals and setting a further up seven. On average, he created 1.46 chances per 90 minutes.

There was also recognition for Dusan Vlahovic, named the best player under the age of 23 in Serie A after netting 21 league goals for Fiorentina.

Romelu Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge?

Lukaku's first taste of English football was with Chelsea between 2011-14.

He could be set for a Chelsea return amid doubts over his Inter future.

 

TOP STORY – TUCHEL WANTS LUKAKU

Chelsea are planning a move for Inter star Romelu Lukaku, according to The Guardian.

Lukaku, who joined the Blues in 2011 before leaving in 2014, is reportedly considering his future after Antonio Conte quit Inter amid the Serie A champions' troubled financial situation.

Inter quartet Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez, Achraf Hakimi – linked with Paris Saint-Germain – and Alessandro Bastoni could be sold by the Nerazzurri.

Chelsea are now eyeing a reunion with Real Madrid and Barcelona target Lukaku after winning the Champions League, while Tottenham's Harry Kane and Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland are also on their radar.

 

ROUND-UP

Gianluigi Donnarumma is prepared to join Juventus on a worse contract than he rejected at Milan, reports Corriere dello Sport. Donnarumma is available on a free transfer and the Italy international has been linked with Barca, Manchester United and PSG. Mundo Deportivo says Barca consider Donnarumma a good market opportunity.

- Bild reports Florian Neuhaus will remain at Borussia Monchengladbach, despite interest from Bayern Munich.

Olivier Giroud will join Milan as a free agent from Chelsea, claims Calciomercato. Giroud is available after his contract was not renewed at Stamford Bridge.

- Lille's Christophe Galtier is the latest candidate to replace head coach Simone Inzaghi at Lazio, joining Maurizio Sarri, Andre Villas-Boas and Sinisa Mihajlovic, according to Tuttomercato. Inzaghi is poised to succeed Conte at Inter.

What does the future hold for Achraf Hakimi?

In his first season with Inter, the Morocco international claimed the Scudetto.

However, his time in Milan could already be coming to an end.

 

TOP STORY – HAKIMI TO PSG?

Paris Saint-Germain want to sign star Inter full-back Achraf Hakimi, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Inter won the Serie A in 2020-21 but find themselves in a tough financial situation due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with head coach Antonio Conte already opting to depart.

Hakimi, Romelu Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez and Alessandro Bastoni could reportedly be sold to ease some of the economic pressure at San Siro.

PSG are believed to be interested, though Inter are demanding more than €60million for the 22-year-old, who only joined from Real Madrid at the start of the season.

Madrid have the right of first refusal and can match any offer for their former defender, while Bayern Munich and Chelsea have also been linked.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Daily Mail claims Arsenal are plotting a shock bid for Manchester City star Raheem Sterling. The England international found himself out of Pep Guardiola's starting XI at times in 2020-21. Madrid and Barca have been previously linked.

Paul Pogba remains a dream signing for Juventus, reports Calciomercato. Sassuolo's Manuel Locatelli and Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez have emerged as targets for Juve, though the Bianconeri are still keen on Manchester United star Pogba, though Udinese's Rodrigo De Paul is an alternative.

- Romano says Barca are open to selling Philippe Coutinho, though Arsenal are not interested in the former Liverpool attacker.

Lionel Messi's contract extension is a priority for Barca before any new signings are made, according to the front page of Saturday's Mundo Deportivo. Barca have been tipped to bring in Lyon captain Memphis Depay, Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and Manchester City pair Sergio Aguero and Eric Garcia on free transfers. Gianluigi Donnarumma – another free agent option as his Milan contract expires – is also a possible recruit.

- According to Romano and widespread reports in Italy, Luciano Spalletti has agreed to replace Gennaro Gattuso as Napoli head coach.

Antonio Conte's departure from Inter sent shockwaves through Italian and European football on Wednesday.

Just weeks after leading the Nerazzurri to their first Scudetto in 11 seasons, Conte left San Siro by mutual consent, amid reports of the Inter board needing to slash the wage bill and sell star players.

The pursuit of major honours and a strained relationship with his bosses have been constant themes of a turbulent two seasons at Inter for the former Juventus, Italy and Chelsea boss.

Below are some of the highs and lows of his two-season tenure.

HIGHS

Winning Serie A

Having left another post abruptly, it remains to be seen what this episode does for Conte's standing when it comes to further elite coaching positions.

But there can be no doubt he gets results. Conte was brought in to bring down the Juventus dynasty he set in motion and his past three club jobs have now all yielded top-flight titles.

They romped to glory with 91 points this time around, meaning Conte is the first head coach in Serie A history to have gained in excess of 90 points at two clubs, having got 102 at Juve in 2013-14. He left after that one, as well.

Lukaku reborn

Conte is famously terrible at seeing eye to eye with his bosses and one of the reasons his tenure at Chelsea soured was the failure to bring Romelu Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge.

Lukaku's switch to Manchester United proved the wrong move for both parties and Conte finally got his man in 2019. The outcome has been fairly spectacular.

The Belgium striker's 72 Serie A appearances for Inter have yielded 47 goals, while his 64 in all competitions since the start of last season puts him joint fifth in Europe's top five leagues alongside Ciro Immobile, behind Robert Lewandowski (103), Cristiano Ronaldo (73), Kylian Mbappe (69) and Erling Haaland (65).

Kings of Milan

This is a moniker Lukaku applied to himself, mainly as a jibe in Zlatan Ibrahimovic's direction. But it applied just as much to Inter during Conte's spell in charge as they enjoyed some stirring victories over bitter rivals Milan.

Overall, in five Derby della Madonnina, Inter won four and lost one. Last season's 4-2 comeback win in Serie A from 4-2 down was an instant classic

Ibrahimovic opened the scoring, clashed angrily with Lukaku and was sent off in a feisty Coppa Italia clash this January. Lukaku then equalised from the penalty spot and Christian Eriksen sealed victory with a 97th-minute free-kick. Derby wins really do not come any sweeter.

 

LOWS

Europa League final heartache

If Conte is a specialist when it comes to domestic league titles, he fell short in the Europa League against the club that has mastered its vagaries better than any other.

Sevilla won the competition for the sixth time this century, prevailing 3-2 in a helter-skelter encounter in Cologne – Lukaku unfortunately deciding the contest with an own goal, having given Inter an early lead via a fifth-minute penalty.

The wider context around the loss probably sowed the seeds for the predicament in which Inter and Conte now find themselves.

Board room ructions

Having failed to lift European silverware and finished second in Serie A, despite Juventus showing some of the cracks that opened so widely this season, Conte was apparently ready to walk after a year in charge and talked cryptically about his prospects of carrying on.

From Lukaku and Eriksen to the likes of Achraf Hakimi, Alexis Sanchez and Ashley Young, Conte has been backed considerably in terms of transfer fees and wages at San Siro.

He rarely acknowledged this in public, frequently saying his squad needed new additions. Inter will have had a very good idea how all this was going to end if – as seems to be the case – cost-cutting is now so high on the agenda.

Champions League failure

Alongside the above concerns over his temperament, Conte's underwhelming results in the Champions League are another thing that will give prospective future employers pause for thought.

At Juventus and Chelsea, he never got particularly close to winning it and Inter, despite being handed a notably tough group alongside Real Madrid, Borussia Monchengladbach and Shakhtar Donetsk, bowed out at the round-robin stage in 2020-21, finishing bottom.

When he won the Premier League in 2016-17, Chelsea were not burdened by European football. There is unquestionably a disparity between Conte the one-game-a-week coach, who thrives on drilling his players with rigorous detail, and his returns when forced to battle on two fronts.

Is the Gianluigi Donnarumma-Milan relationship coming to an end?

Donnarumma made his debut as a 16-year-old for Milan in 2015, however, the Italy international is reportedly close to making the move to Serie A rivals Juventus.

Step forward Mike Maignan…

 

TOP STORY – DONNARUMMA OUT, MAIGNAN IN?

Lille goalkeeper Mike Maignan is poised to undergo a medical with Milan as Gianluigi Donnarumma edges closer to a blockbuster Juventus switch, according to widespread reports.

Donnarumma is set to become a free agent and the Milan star is yet to re-sign with the Rossoneri, who qualified for the Champions League.

Gianluca Di Marzio reports Milan are no longer waiting on Donnarumma as they step up their pursuit of Maignan, who will arrive in Italy on Tuesday after helping Lille to Ligue 1 glory.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fabrizio Romano says Massimiliano Allegri's priority is to take charge of Real Madrid, despite interest from former club Juve and Napoli in Serie A. Allegri is the favourite to replace Zinedine Zidane should he leave the Spanish capital. Despite securing a top-four finish, Andrea Pirlo is being tipped to leave Juve.

- There is set to be a coaching merry-go-round in Serie A this off-season. The front page of Tuesday's Corriere dello Sport says Porto boss Sergio Conceicao is favourite to succeed Gennaro Gattuso at Napoli, with the latter tipped to replace Simone Inzaghi at Lazio. Ex-Roma head coach Paulo Fonseca is the new first choice to join Fiorentina.

Inter must sell one star – Lautaro Martinez or Alessandro Bastoni – due to their financial situation, according to Corriere dello Sport. Martinez has been linked with Barcelona and Real Madrid, while Bastoni has attracted interest from Liverpool and Manchester City. There is also speculation regarding the future of coach Antonio Conte and star Romelu Lukaku, who is reportedly wanted by Chelsea, Barca and Madrid.

- The Telegraph claims Manchester United are prioritising the signing of Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, who has long been tipped to join the Red Devils. Dortmund team-mate Erling Haaland is also wanted at Old Trafford, while Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has been linked with a sensational return.

Tottenham are interested in re-hiring Mauricio Pochettino, reports the Independent. Pochettino is in charge of Paris Saint-Germain after replacing Thomas Tuchel in January but he was unable to oversee a successful title defence this season.

Bayern Munich and Barcelona are targeting Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum on a free transfer, says Sky Sports.

The domestic football season concluded at the weekend in typically dramatic fashion.

The title went down to the wire in France and Spain, while Champions League qualification was up for grabs for some big names in England and Italy.

Much of the focus during the closing rounds in Germany was on Robert Lewandowski's record bid, but there was no shortage of intrigue whichever way you looked.

It was in keeping with the rest of an unpredictable campaign, one that Stats Perform breaks down with the use of Opta data.
 

LILLE, LALIGA AND LUKAKU SHAKE THINGS UP

Lille, Atletico Madrid and Inter all have relatively recent history of league glory, but a pre-season wager would have fetched long odds.

In Ligue 1, Paris Saint-Germain had won seven of the previous eight titles and would have expected to do so again, having claimed a domestic treble and reached the Champions League final in 2020.

As it was, under new coach Mauricio Pochettino, they had to settle for pushing Lille all the way.

Les Dogues claimed the title but had already set a club points record when they reached 79 with two games to spare. PSG finished on 82, though, meaning Lille desperately needed the final two results to boost their tally.

Despite the presence of Real Madrid and Barcelona in LaLiga, Atletico's triumph was perhaps more likely, even if the impressive nature of it may have come as a surprise.

Although they stuttered on the home stretch and had to come from behind on the last day to edge out Madrid, Atleti spent 30 matchdays at the top of the table – a mark only bettered once in their 10 other title-winning campaigns (36 matchdays in 1995-96).

Indeed, Atleti are used to having to wait to celebrate, with 10 of their 11 championships seeing the destination of the trophy decided on the final day (all except 1976-77).

Inter are another big name but had been waiting even longer than Lille for their most recent title, with one Milan victory and then nine in a row for Juventus since the 2009-10 Nerazzurri treble.

Antonio Conte's men completed the job in style, though, confirmed as champions with four games to play before finishing with 91 points (behind only their 2006-07 haul of 97) and 89 goals (third-most behind the classes of 1949-50 and 1950-51 – 99 and 107 respectively).

Talisman Romelu Lukaku was involved in 35 of them, becoming the first Serie A player to have at least 20 goals and 10 assists in the same season since at least 2004-05.


BAYERN BACK ON TOP, CITY SCALING NEW HEIGHTS

In Germany, the title race was a little less exciting. Winners of everything in 2020, Bayern Munich took home the Bundesliga crown for a ninth successive season.

Prior to this run, no team had won more than three on the bounce, yet there appears no end to Bayern's dominance in sight. They have now won 52 per cent of the championships since the formation of the competition in 1963.

Julian Nagelsmann, arriving from RB Leipzig, will be the coach tasked with achieving 10 in a row and Hansi Flick has set the bar high. His 86 games brought seven trophies.

Manchester City could soon be reflecting on a similarly dominant dynasty having now claimed three titles in four seasons.

Pep Guardiola played a big part in Bayern's run and now has nine league wins in 12 top-flight seasons as a coach, although this was an unprecedented achievement, with City eighth on Christmas Day – the lowest position at that stage for an eventual Premier League champion.

A record English league run of 12 away victories played a pivotal role in City's season, while defending champions Liverpool saw a club-record 68-game unbeaten home run in the Premier League ended as they subsequently lost six consecutive league matches at Anfield for the first time in their history.

City could yet win the Champions League too, where Sergio Aguero is in line for his final appearance before his contract expires. He will hope it is as successful as his last league outing, during which he scored twice against Everton on Sunday to set a new record for the most Premier League goals by a player for one club (184).
 

RECORD-BREAKING LEWY DELAYS NEXT GENERATION

Aguero might have had his say on the final day, once the title was secure, but he largely took a backseat – unlike Lewandowski at Bayern.

His 41 Bundesliga goals broke Gerd Muller's long-standing record of 40 in a single season. The next-best tally in Europe's top five leagues in 2020-21 saw Lionel Messi trailing well behind on 30.

Lewandowski unsurprisingly also led Europe in expected goals, with his chances worth 32.2 xG, and expected goals on target, producing shots with a value of 35.8 xGOT.

As Lewandowski took the Kicker-Torjagerkanone and Messi went away with the Pichichi, Cristiano Ronaldo (29 goals) won the Capocannoniere, having also previously topped the charts in England and Spain.

Kylian Mbappe (27) was the leading marksman in France, while Harry Kane (23) earned the Premier League Golden Boot for a third time.

Kane is set to be the subject of intense transfer speculation throughout the close-season – replacing Aguero at City might be one option if he gets his wish to leave Spurs – and he will join Mbappe and Erling Haaland in that regard.

Haaland also scored 27 league goals and only just trailed Mbappe's seven assists with his six.

The expectation is both players will establish themselves as the world's best in the coming seasons, but it is now Lewandowski, rather than Messi and Ronaldo, they must surpass.

Romelu Lukaku wants Inter to establish a prolonged period of dominance in Serie A after wrapping up their title-winning campaign with a 5-1 victory over Udinese on Sunday. 

Inter sealed top spot with four games remaining and finally got their hands on the trophy after a resounding win in front of 1,000 spectators at San Siro.

Their victory meant they gained more than 90 points in a single top-flight campaign for only the second time in their history (after 2006-07), while Antonio Conte became the first coach to achieve that tally with two different Serie A sides in the three-points-per-win era.

Ashley Young put the Nerazzurri in front early on, with goals from Christian Eriksen, Lautaro Martinez and Ivan Perisic putting them comfortably out of reach. 

Lukaku, who came on as a second-half substitute, scored fortuitously when Alexis Sanchez's cross struck him in the chest after coming back off the post. It was his 30th goal in all competitions this season and his 24th in Serie A – only in 2016-17 for Everton has he scored more (25) in a single campaign in one of Europe's top five leagues. 

Roberto Pereyra converted a consolation penalty for Udinese but that did little to dampen the Nerazzurri's celebrations, for which fans had gathered outside the stadium. 

Having denied Juventus a 10th straight Scudetto, Lukaku urged Inter not to rest on their laurels next season. 

"I hope it can be the start [of a successful era for Inter]. Now I'll go to the European Championship with my country and when we all return, we've got to be even stronger than before," Lukaku told DAZN. 

"This year was wonderful for us because we worked so hard to win this Scudetto. Last season we came really close, but this year we played well, were physically strong. We all made a big step forward. 

"I am truly proud to play for this team." 

Lukaku donned a personalised t-shirt with an image of his grandparents on and became tearful as he celebrated the first major honour of his career.

"I didn't want to cry today, but the emotion was just too strong. This photo is of my grandmother and my grandfather, and I thought of them," said Lukaku. 

"When my grandfather died in 2005, I promised him I would win at least something in my career. I did that today and I am truly happy." 

Inter capped their Scudetto-winning season with a resounding 5-1 victory over Udinese at San Siro on Sunday. 

Ashley Young, making what is expected to be his final appearance for Inter, got Antonio Conte's side up and running early on and Christian Eriksen's deflected free-kick doubled their advantage at the end of a tepid first half. 

Lautaro Martinez converted a penalty 10 minutes after the restart and Ivan Perisic added a majestic finish in front of the 1,000 spectators invited by the club to witness their crowning moment. 

Substitute Romelu Lukaku scored a fortuitous 30th goal of the season in all competitions before Roberto Pereyra converted a consolation penalty, but that did little to stop Inter celebrating as they finally got their hands on the trophy in front of a gathering of fans outside the stadium. 

Inter's coronation got off to a great start with Young latching onto Martinez's deflected shot and dinking a fine finish over Juan Musso after eight minutes. 

Eriksen replaced Stefano Sensi, who went off with an injury that could impact his hopes of representing Italy at Euro 2020, and found the back of the net with a powerful free-kick that took a touch off Stefano Okaka. 

Inter moved further ahead in the 55th minute when Marvin Zeegelaar tripped Achraf Hakimi inside the box and Martinez drilled the resulting penalty into the bottom-left corner. 

A swift break ended with Perisic curling Matias Vecino's pass across goal and into the top-right corner, before a cross from Alexis Sanchez hit the post and rebounded in off the chest of an unaware Lukaku. 

Inter were unable to keep a clean sheet as Nahuel Molina's cross was headed onto Eriksen's hand by Alessandro Bastoni and Pereyra beat Daniele Padelli, who replaced Samir Handanovic at half-time for what is set to be his final appearance for the club, from the spot in the 79th minute. 

Juventus kept alive their Champions League qualification hopes with a dramatic 3-2 win over Serie A champions Inter in the Derby d'Italia on Saturday. 

Cristiano Ronaldo tapped home after his initial penalty was saved to put Juve ahead midway through the first half, but Romelu Lukaku drew Antonio Conte's side level soon after with a penalty of his own. 

A Giorgio Chiellini own goal seven minutes from full-time cancelled out Juan Cuadrado's earlier strike, but the Colombia international sealed a vital three points for Juve – who had Rodrigo Bentancur dismissed early in the second half – in the 88th minute, powering home from the penalty spot after he had been brought down by Ivan Perisic, whose team-mate Marcelo Brozovic was sent off in stoppage time.

The result moved Andrea Pirlo's side into the top four, although they could be usurped ahead of next weekend's final matchday if Napoli overcome Fiorentina on Sunday.

What does the future hold for Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez?

The pair helped Inter to their first Scudetto since 2009-10.

But both could depart San Siro as Inter look to cut costs.

 

TOP STORY – LUKAKU AND LAUTARO TO LEAVE INTER?

Inter could be forced to sell star forwards Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez, according to Corriere dello Sport.

Antonio Conte's Inter have been crowned Serie A champions this season, but the Nerazzurri have financial problems as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Lukaku has been linked with former club Chelsea, Barcelona and Real Madrid, while team-mate Martinez has long been tipped to join Barca.

Alessandro Bastoni is also listed in the report amid links to Manchester City and Liverpool, while star full-back Achraf Hakimi is said to be of interest to Arsenal and Bayern Munich.

 

ROUND-UP

- The front page of Thursday's Mundo Deportivo reports Barca look at the idea of signing City's Sergio Aguero favourably. Aguero is out of contract at season's end and he has been linked with Inter, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Tottenham. But the Argentina star reportedly wants to play alongside countryman Lionel Messi. A move for Aguero would not prevent Barca from signing fellow free agent and Lyon captain Memphis Depay. Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland is also a target for the LaLiga giants. It comes amid doubts over the future of head coach Ronald Koeman.

Manchester United and Arsenal are battling to sign Sparta Prague sensation Abdallah Sima, claims the Mirror. Sima is reportedly valued at £25million (€29m).

- Sky Sports says United are interested in Juventus defender Cristian Romero, who could cost £34m (€40m). The 23-year-old Argentinian joined Atalanta on a two-year loan deal from Juve and the Serie A side have an option to buy Romero. United have also been linked with Sevilla's Jules Kounde, Lille defender Sven Botman, Villarreal centre-back Pau Torres and Real Madrid duo Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane.

- Former Chelsea boss Frank Lampard could replace Roy Hodgson at Crystal Palace after emerging as a leading contender, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Serie A champions Inter saw off Roma 3-1 at San Siro on Wednesday to stretch their club-record winning home league run to 15 matches.

Antonio Conte's men had failed to beat Roma on home soil in the league since 2015, but they raced into a two-goal lead in this latest clash inside the opening 20 minutes.

Midfield pair Marcelo Brozovic and Matias Vecino both scored from clinical finishes before Henrikh Mkhitaryan pulled one back just after the half-hour mark.

Edin Dzeko hit the crossbar in the second half but Inter, who were crowned champions with four games remaining, rounded out the win through Romelu Lukaku late on to extend their unbeaten league run to 20 matches.

With the Scudetto already sealed, Conte continued with his rotation policy and two of Inter's recalled players linked up for the opener with 11 minutes played.

Matteo Darmian pulled the ball back from the byline and Brozovic fired a first-time finish away from Daniel Fuzato.

The Nerazzurri did not take long to double their lead through a well-taken Vecino strike following some good play from Lukaku to chase down a pass and wait for support.

Roma put five unanswered goals past bottom side Crotone on Sunday and they were back in this game thanks to Mkhitaryan's curled finish away from Ionut Radu.

The visitors almost levelled up 11 minutes into the second half when Dzeko turned in the box and arrowed a shot against the frame of the goal.

Bryan Cristante headed wide from a glorious position and Mkhitaryan volleyed another chance into the hands of Radu, but Lukaku sealed the points for Inter with a last-minute tap-in after being unselfishly teed up by substitute Achraf Hakimi on the counter.

Romelu Lukaku believes Zlatan Ibrahimovic has helped to raise the level of Serie A and is not dwelling on their heated clash earlier this season.

Lukaku had to be dragged away from Ibrahimovic after the Milan striker apparently insulted his mother during January's Coppa Italia derby.

The Belgium striker equalised from the penalty spot in a 2-1 win for Inter, while the Sweden veteran was sent off.

Ibrahimovic denied allegations of racially abusing Lukaku during the spat and, after inspiring Inter to a valedictory Scudetto triumph, the younger man seemed to have no intention of retaining any ill-feeling towards his former Manchester United team-mate.

"We were losing 1-0, I missed a goal, I was a bit angry," he told Corriere Della Sera.

"His words struck me. I'm not happy with having reacted like that but don't let myself get pushed around. 

"I am humble and calm, I am a winner and I fight to death for my team-mates and for the victory."

Lukaku looks likely to fall short in this season's Capocannoniere race as he sits on 21 goals behind Cristiano Ronaldo on 27.

Ibrahimovic has 15, although his haul comes from 18 appearances, compared to 33 for Lukaku, giving him a superior minutes-per-goal rate (95.47 v 127.29).

Lukaku feels Ibrahimovic and Ronaldo plying their trade in Serie A only adds to the division's appeal, with Jose Mourinho's appointment as Roma head coach this week providing similar lustre.

 

"[Ibrahimovic is] a great player, he has won wherever he has played, he has scored more than 500 goals," he said.

"We need players of this level in Serie A. He wants to win for himself, me for Inter, Ronaldo for Juve, now there is Mourinho at Roma.

"They are all good things for Italy. The level is raised, let's hope Inter win again [next season]."

Although ending Juventus' decade of dominance in Italy was joyously celebrated by Inter and their fans, Lukaku conceded there are pangs of regret of Antonio Conte's men bowing out at the group stage of the Champions League this season.

Real Madrid and Borussia Monchengladbach progressed out of a tough round-robin section that also featured Inter and Shakhtar Donetsk.

"Leaving in the group stage was a great disappointment, we should have qualified in that group," he added.

"Real Madrid are strong, but we were better than the other two.  Next year we have to overcome the group, then anything can happen."

Romelu Lukaku is hoping to fire Belgium to Euro 2020 glory after gaining a "killer mentality" with Scudetto winners Inter.

The 27-year-old has scored 21 Serie A goals and provided a further 10 assists this season for Inter, who were crowned champions on Sunday for the first time in 11 years.

It is just the second title won by the prolific striker across his 12-year senior career after finishing first in the Belgian Pro League with Anderlecht in 2009-10.

Lukaku, who joined Inter from Manchester United in August 2019, has now set his sights on inspiring Belgium to their first piece of major silverware at the delayed Euro 2020 finals.

"Winning a club title allows you to gain experience and allows you to know how to approach matches," he told La Tribune. "You get this killer mentality.

"That is something I've missed in my career. I've given up too many times before. Then I said to myself 'I'm tired, I'm 27, it's time for a change'. But the work doesn't stop here.

"Right now I'm happy because we are champions, but I'm already focused on the Euros because it's important to me.

"I really hope the other Belgium players, like [Thibaut] Courtois, Eden [Hazard], [Axel] Witsel and [Kevin] De Bruyne, can also win titles. 

"That would be good for the team. It would bring a good team spirit and we can all move forward together."

Lukaku is scoring from 23.6 per cent of his shots – making him the first Serie A player since 2004-05 to tally 20 goals and 10 assists in the same season.

The ex-Chelsea striker's 31 combined goals and assists in Serie A this season is the most of any player, with Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo next on the list with 30.

Despite enjoying one of his most prolific seasons yet in front of goal, however, Lukaku does not believe he is the best striker in the world.

"That is Karim Benzema, without a doubt," he said.

Benzema is averaging a goal every 121.62 minutes in LaLiga for title contenders Real Madrid this season, compared to Lukaku's return of a goal every 127.29 minutes in Serie A.

The Frenchman has 21 league goals in total this campaign and a further eight assists.

Erling Haaland and Romelu Lukaku appear to be the top forwards on English clubs' shopping lists this off-season.

But Bayern Munich forward Robert Lewandowski may enter the frame amid rumours about his future.

Manchester City and Chelsea are known to be eager to bolster their attacking options and have the funds to finance a major move.

 

TOP STORY – ENGLAND ON LEWANDOWSKI'S RADAR

SportBild reports that Robert Lewandowski's likely next destination will be the English Premier League, if Bayern Munich opt to sell their Polish forward.

The report claims that Lewandowski's agent Pini Zahavi is trying to put pressure on Bayern for a lucrative contract extension or to sell him to one of England's financially powerful clubs.

Lewandowski still has two years to run on his Bayern contract and the Bavarians are believed to not be ready to negotiate.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fabrizio Romano claims that Romelu Lukaku is not planning to leave Inter amid interest from Manchester City, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Barcelona, pointing to comments he made following the club's Serie A title triumph on Sunday.

- Romano also claims that Watford, who have won promotion to the Premier League, have begun talks with Inter's Ashley Young who may be available as a free agent.

- Marca reports that PSG are increasingly concerned that Neymar will not sign a contract extension with the club amid talk of a Barcelona move.

- Celtic defender Kristoffer Ajer is being tracked by Premier League club Newcastle United, claims the Daily Record.

- Tottenham are interested in Brazilian teenager Rodrigo Varanda who is currently with Corinthians, says The Sun.

Romelu Lukaku expressed his deep affection for Inter in a sign he wants to stay with the newly crowned Serie A champions following their Scudetto coronation.

Inter, who won 2-0 at Crotone on Saturday, were crowned champions by virtue of second-placed Atalanta failing to beat Sassuolo on Sunday, leaving an unassailable 13-point gap.

Lukaku played a key role in delivering Inter their first Serie A title since 2009-10, the former Manchester United forward scoring 21 goals and tallying 10 assists to fuel the club's charge this season.

The Belgium international's exploits have reportedly made him a target for Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea and Manchester City but Lukaku appears happy in Milan.

Lukaku got in his car on Sunday and celebrated Inter's first Scudetto in 11 years with the fans on the streets.

"I am so happy for all the Inter fans in the world, for the team, the staff, the president and everyone," Lukaku told Sky Sport Italia.

"It was a wonderful year for us, I am truly proud to play for Inter. I wanted to come out here and celebrate along with the people.

"I told my friend this was the best way to experience it, to be there with the fans. For me and many of my team-mates, this is our first league title, so it’s a moment we wanted to share with them."

Not since his final season at Everton has Lukaku attempted or completed more dribbles (97 and 52 in 2020-21), meaning he is back facing the goal again, involved in 13 counter-attacks – his most since 2014-15. He also has 10 assists for the first time.

Yet Lukaku is still taking the largest share of his touches in the box to date (18.3 per cent), leading to a career-high 35 big chances.

From such positions, he can afford to squander 17 big chances and net only 16 non-penalty goals from efforts worth 16.8 xG, another new benchmark.

Lukaku is now scoring with a staggering 23.6 per cent of his shots – making him the first Serie A player since 2004-05 to tally 20 goals and 10 assists in the same season.

"Last year was good too, but yes, this was the best of my career," Lukaku, who arrived from United in 2019, said.

"It's wonderful and I hope to continue like this. I want to thank everyone, I am truly so happy."

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