Simone Inzaghi admits Romelu Lukaku's recovery will take some time but the Inter boss still feels his side can "make a difference" without their forward when they face Milan in the Derby della Madonnina.

The two local rivals meet at San Siro this weekend for the first time since the Nerazzurri defeated Milan in the Coppa Italia semi-finals last term.

However, the Rossoneri prevailed in the pair's battle for the Serie A title, with Inter missing the pinpoint power of forward Lukaku following his move to Chelsea.

An underwhelming season back in the Premier League led to the Belgian's return to Inter on loan, but a thigh injury means he will miss their biggest match of the season to date.

Inzaghi insists his team will cope without Lukaku, saying at his pre-match press conference: "The hope is for [Lukaku] to recover before the international break. It will take some time, but the medical staff is working on his recovery. We must prepare for these eventualities.

Inzaghi discussed his various selection dilemmas for the derby, with centre-back Alessandro Bastoni missing the midweek 3-1 win against Cremonese with a fever.

"He was not 100 per cent already before the Cremonese game with a fever, and in these two days he still was not well," he said. "I will decide as soon as I get him back in the group in training, as well as for the attack where I can choose between three players and figure out who to support Lautaro [Martinez].

"On Tuesday, [Joaquin] Correa did very well and scored, [Edin] Dzeko did a great job.

"I also have to choose in the wide positions. [Robin] Gosens has been stationary for six months. Right now I'm preferring to let him enter the race. In the derby I will decide between him, [Federico] Dimarco and [Matteo] Darmian."

The former Lazio boss understands what the game means, both locally and in the wider title picture, and called on his players to show "nastiness and determination" on Saturday.

"Last year, we played many derbies and the last one allowed us to win a trophy," he said. "A derby is loaded on its own - two strong teams face each other and the matches are balanced, decided by individual episodes.

"We need to make a difference. We know it's an important match. It needs to be a tour-de-force between now and November - it will take nastiness and determination."

Inter head coach Simone Inzaghi was proud of his team's "mature" performance after they ran out 3-1 winners over Cremonese at San Siro on Tuesday.

Joaquin Correa and Nicolo Barella scored first half goals to set them on the way to victory and Lautaro Martinez added a third with a precise finish, before David Okereke netted a late consolation.

The win for Inter is a positive response after they were beaten 3-1 by Lazio on Friday, and three points move them into second above rivals Milan, who they face on Saturday.

Inzaghi was pleased with his side's response to the defeat against Lazio, telling DAZN: "I am very happy, we won a difficult match against a team that collected less than they deserved.

"We have one point more than last year, the condition is improving, we know that we will face many matches, we must definitely improve.

"We were criticised after the match against Lazio, against a very strong team, but there was a lot of noise about this defeat, but today we played a mature game."

When questioned on the significance of moving above Milan ahead of Saturday's derby, Inzaghi replied: "It means nothing.

"It seems to me too early to look at the standings. Tonight I saw the reaction of a mature team."

Romelu Lukaku struggled in Inter's first defeat of the season at Lazio, but Simone Inzaghi was more concerned by the Nerazzurri's inability to win without the talismanic forward at his best.

Lukaku has returned on loan to Inter, where he won the 2020-21 Serie A title, after a difficult year with Chelsea.

The forward swiftly appeared to have rediscovered his best form in Italy, scoring two minutes into his second Inter debut against Lecce and then teeing up a Lautaro Martinez goal at home to Spezia.

But Friday's third match of the season at Lazio brought a reality check, with Lukaku scarcely troubling the capital club.

The Belgian attempted three shots – all with his head – but only one hit the target, and he did not create a single chance; his 19 touches were the fewest of any starter on either team.

Lukaku was substituted for Edin Dzeko in the 69th minute with the game level, yet Lazio went on to win 3-1.

"[Lukaku] had played the first two games in the best way," Inzaghi told DAZN when quizzed on the change.

"More than looking at the changes, we have to analyse a lost game, a direct clash that hurts.

"We know that we have to do more in these games to win, beyond the condition of Lukaku or Lautaro."

Martinez had equalised for the Nerazzurri early in the second half, but Inzaghi felt the game turned with a close-range Denzel Dumfries header that was saved just 88 seconds after that goal.

"The defeat stings for the way it happened," the coach explained. "The match was balanced and hard fought against a quality opponent.

"Luis Alberto's goal [Lazio's second] broke the game; at 1-1, we had Dumfries' chance that would have changed things.

"We had to show more nastiness on our side because these games are played in moments."

Simone Inzaghi praised Romelu Lukaku's contribution since he returned to Inter on loan from Chelsea, as he backed the Belgian striker to hit top form sooner rather than later ahead of their trip to Lazio.

Inter have made a perfect start to their Serie A title bid, following up a last-gasp win at Lecce on the opening day by beating Spezia 3-0 last time out.

Lukaku, who fired the Nerazzurri to the Scudetto in 2020-21 with 24 league goals before heading to Chelsea, needed just 82 seconds to find the net when making his second Inter debut at Lecce.

While the Belgian then failed to score in Inter's routine win at San Siro last weekend, Inzaghi was content with his display and believes it will not be long until he is scoring regularly once more.

"I think he did the first two games in the best way. It is not a matter that concerns only Romelu, but the whole team," Inzaghi said at a pre-match press conference.

"We know that the condition is improving, we know we have players with important physicality and therefore we knew we needed some important games. 

"We started quite well, we want to continue trying to improve all our players, including Lukaku. 

"We also want to recover [Henrikh] Mkhitaryan, who will be very important, there will be 19 games in a row before a stop [for the World Cup]. We will have to try to have all the players available. Tomorrow everyone travels except Henrikh."

 

Lukaku scored 47 goals in 72 Serie A appearances in his first spell at Inter. Only Cristiano Ronaldo (60 goals in 66 appearances) and Ciro Immobile (56 in 72 games) outscored him in the competition during that time.

Lukaku's return has raised hopes that Inter could reclaim the Serie A title this season, but holding onto defender Milan Skriniar, who was strongly linked with Paris Saint-Germain, could prove just as important.

While Skriniar struggled with a muscle injury during pre-season, Inzaghi is pleased with the Slovakia international's progress, adding: "I see him very well, concentrated, attentive. 

"There was a problem at the beginning of the preparation, it came from an injury with the national team, something new for him because he had never skipped a training session in the last years. 

"Instead, this time he slowed down for 40 or 45 days and his condition is growing."

Inzaghi suffered his first league defeat as Inter boss when visiting former club Lazio in October last year, with Immobile on the scoresheet.

And while Inzaghi still enjoys a close bond with last season's Serie A top goalscorer, he is not enthused by the prospect of facing the Italy international on Friday.

"A great affection binds me to him, he made very important seasons with me, he did it again last year with [Maurizio] Sarri," he added. 

"I know it's a special game for everyone, we all care about it. I hope Ciro always scores, but maybe tomorrow he rests!"

Simone Inzaghi praised the resolve of Inter to keep hold of defensive stalwart Milan Skriniar amid interest from Paris Saint-Germain.

The 27-year-old Slovakian has spent the past five seasons at Inter but recently emerged as a prime target for French champions PSG, who are looking to recruit before the transfer window closes.

The Parisians have strong designs on building a squad capable of winning the Champions League, and they considered Skriniar a player who would fortify their side for that challenge.

However, Inter chairman Steven Zhang was reported in the Italian media as having decided Skriniar must stay with the Nerazzurri.

Such a strong stance was welcomed by head coach Inzaghi, who included Skriniar in his defence for Inter's 3-0 home win over Spezia on Saturday.

"It is certainly nice," Inzaghi told Sky Italia when asked about the sudden clarity surrounding Skriniar. "We know that it is not easy for the coaches to play with the open market."

Skriniar joined Inter from Sampdoria in July 2017 and helped the team win the 2020-21 Serie A title and last season's Coppa Italia.

A new contract is expected to be in the offing for Skriniar, who was reportedly the subject of offers in the region of €50million from PSG.

Inter maintained their perfect start to the Serie A season by dominating Spezia in a 3-0 win at San Siro, as Lautaro Martinez netted a thunderous strike to open his account for the new campaign.

Martinez drilled home from outside the area as Inter swiftly established control, with Denzel Dumfries and Romelu Lukaku guilty of missing excellent chances before half-time.

Hakan Calhanoglu gave the Nerazzurri breathing space with a neat right-footed finish shortly after the break, ensuring there was no need for the sort of last-minute heroics Inter required at Lecce last Saturday.

Joaquin Correa then came off the bench to tap in a late third, sending Simone Inzaghi's men to the top of the table at this early stage.

Bartlomiej Dragowski made an acrobatic save from Dumfries' eighth-minute header as Inter started brightly, before he Martinez at the end of a slaloming run five minutes later.

The Nerazzurri hit the front when Martinez fired a terrific effort into the bottom-left corner after latching onto Lukaku's flick-on after 35 minutes, before Dumfries was denied by the boot of Dragowski after racing clear.

Lukaku nodded against the crossbar and Martinez turned Dumfries' header over as Inter continued to dominate, although Inzaghi's side failed to build on their advantage before half-time.

Yet Inter needed just six minutes to double their lead follow the restart, with Calhanoglu reacting to a loose ball to side-foot into the bottom-right corner from inside the area.

Inzaghi withdrew Lukaku as the pace of the game slowed thereafter, but replacement Edin Dzeko had time to lay on an assist as he beat Dragowski before picking out Correa for a third goal 10 minutes from time.

What does it mean? Inter enjoy home comforts

Inzaghi was far from pleased despite Inter starting the Serie A season with a win at Lecce so would have been delighted with a far more convincing display when the Nerazzurri returned to San Siro.

Inter have now lost just two of their past 37 Serie A home games, with both of those defeats coming during a costly blip in February this year (against Sassuolo and Scudetto winners Milan).

Lautaro and Lukaku still perfect partners

Martinez and Lukaku combined for eight goals as Inter romped to the Serie A title in the 2020-21 season, making them the most effective partnership in the division.

Spending a year apart does not seem to have diminished their understanding, with Martinez opening the scoring in emphatic style after racing onto the Belgian's header.

Since the start of last term, only Ciro Immobile (28) and Dusan Vlahovic (26) have scored more Serie A goals than Martinez (22).

Calhanoglu continues purple patch

Former Milan man Calhanoglu may sometimes be hidden behind the headline acts mentioned above, but the Turkey international has certainly delivered recently for Inter –especially at home.

Calhanoglu's second-half strike means he has recorded a goal contribution in four consecutive league outings at San Siro (one goal, four assists).

What's next?

Inter travel to Rome to face Lazio in their next Serie A match on Friday, while Spezia host Sassuolo the following day.

Inter boss Simone Inzaghi was not pleased with his side's performance in their 2-1 win away from home against Lecce, saying a team with title aspirations can not be relying on a 94th-minute winner.

The Italian giants – who had the best goal difference in Serie A last season (plus 52) – opened the scoring just 81 seconds in, when loan signing Romelu Lukaku headed home Matteo Darmian's cross from point-blank range.

Inter controlled 70 per cent of the possession in the first half and appeared good value for their lead, but the entire complexion of the contest changed two minutes into the second half when Assan Ceesay tucked home his left-foot finish low and hard across Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic after a slick counter-attack.

The 1-1 score would hold until the game's dying moments, when an Inter corner found Lautaro Martinez's head, who flicked it on for substitute defender Denzel Dumfries to force home at the back post.

Speaking to DAZN after the win, Inzaghi said there were positives to look at, but ultimately his side needs to be more emphatic against a newly promoted team playing their first Serie A game in seven years.

"A team like ours cannot win these games [in stoppage time]," he said. "We put a lot of heart on the pitch because we won in the 94th minute, but we have to analyse the game. 

"I am fortunate to have strikers who can play together like [Edin] Dzeko and Lukaku who allow us to play directly, especially on a pitch that was not in great shape at the end, with the midfielders coming in behind them. It is an option that will also be seen in the future.

"We had an excellent half hour, then we got nervous, losing the measures and conceding the equal goal. We could have scored the double before, but a team like this can't suffer so much, and you can't wait until the last moments to win."

When probed further about Lukaku, Inzaghi added: "Lukaku? I am happy, he is working hard, he is back and has a great desire and availability. 

"He can improve like everyone else, but he works like everyone else. He is a driver and he will score a lot of goals from here."

Denzel Dumfries scored a dramatic 95th-minute winner as Inter began their Serie A campaign with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Lecce, as Romelu Lukaku scored on his Nerazzurri return.

Lukaku required just 82 seconds to head home the opener on his second Inter debut, but Simone Inzaghi's side looked set to make a stuttering start when Assan Ceesay levelled three minutes after the break.

But substitute Dumfries was on hand to convert from a corner deep into stoppage time as Inter made a winning start to the new campaign.

Having watched champions Milan beat Udinese in their own season-opener early on Saturday, Inter ensured they matched their rivals' exploits at the outset of what is likely to be another thrilling title race.

 

Simone Inzaghi emphasised the importance of Inter keeping their squad together on the eve of the new Serie A campaign, as he revealed the Nerazzurri are not targeting multiple new additions.

Inter missed out on the Serie A title to rivals Milan by just two points in Inzaghi's first campaign at the helm in 2021-22, but have been tipped to regain the Scudetto after bringing in the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Andre Onana.

Meanwhile, despite Paris Saint-Germain being linked with Milan Skriniar and Chelsea touted as a possible destination for Denzel Dumfries and Alessandro Bastoni, the Nerazzurri have retained the services of other key players.

And Inzaghi is keen to ensure things remain that way, as he said a replacement for defensive back-up Andrea Rannocchia – who has joined Monza – is Inter's only transfer target.

"The team is the one that I have agreed with the company and the owners," he told a news conference ahead of Inter's Serie A opener at Lecce.

"The team will be this, we are missing a player to replace Ranocchia, the company is working on this and I think I don't have to talk about it anymore. 

"The incoming and outgoing market is closed."

Lukaku's return on a season-long loan deal from Chelsea represents one of the biggest acquisitions made by any Serie A team during the off-season, after he fired them to the 2020-21 Scudetto with 24 league goals.

Upon his San Siro comeback, Lukaku will be expected to rekindle a fearsome partnership with Lautaro Martinez after they created 29 chances for one another – eight resulting in goals – during the Belgian's last season at Inter.

Inzaghi also has the likes of Edin Dzeko and Joaquin Correa to call upon as attacking options, and is pleased with the way the 29-year-old has settled back in to the Nerazzurri frontline.

"Lukaku works as well as the others, he's been out for a year, he's trying to integrate as best he can with everyone," Inzaghi added. 

 

"He's not new here, I'm very happy with him, Dzeko, Lautaro and Correa. 

"On [departing forwards Alexis] Sanchez and [Andrea] Pinamonti, we made some choices focusing on these four, who give me great guarantees.

"Tomorrow, a difficult championship starts again where many teams will fight to win like us. They have strengthened a lot, my focus is only on Lecce. 

"They are a newly promoted team who will have support and enthusiasm, it will take a real match from Inter to be able to win.

"It must be another great year, Inter have a duty to aspire to the maximum. The team is unchanged: we lost [Ivan] Perisic who was very important, but he made other choices. We brought back Lukaku, we took functional players.

"The opponents made many purchases, investing a lot, but they know that Inter will be on their way."

Inter head coach Simone Inzaghi tried to look on the bright side after his team were beaten 4-2 by Villarreal in their final pre-season outing before the new Serie A campaign.

The contest in Pescara on Saturday saw Romelu Lukaku find the net for the second time since returning to the Nerazzurri on loan from Chelsea, while Danilo D'Ambrosio also scored.

However, goals for the Yellow Submarine from Alfonso Pedraza (two), Francis Coquelin and Nicolas Jackson gave Unai Emery's side an impressive win over the Italian giants.

Speaking after the game, Inzaghi simply said: "These tests help to grow, and there are things to review, but we played against a team that last year reached the Champions League semi-final."

Since beating FC Lugano 4-1 in their first pre-season outing, Inter have not won any of their four subsequent friendlies, drawing with Monaco and Lyon and losing to Lens and Villarreal.

Dutch centre-back Stefan de Vrij was more direct in his words, saying post-game: "Too many goals conceded. We have to keep working, because that's not enough."

Inter begin their Serie A campaign away to Lecce on August 13, as they look to reclaim the Scudetto after losing out to local rivals Milan last season.

 

Inter head coach Simone Inzaghi insisted his team are "on the right track" in their preparations for the new season, despite suffering a surprise 1-0 friendly defeat to Lens.

Saturday's friendly in France was a cagey affair, ultimately decided by a 91st-minute winner for the hosts when Lois Openda flicked on a corner at the near post, which looped into the far corner of the net.

Lens, who finished seventh in Ligue 1 last season, provided a stern test for their Serie A opponents, who fielded several of their new faces - including Romelu Lukaku and Henrikh Mkhitaryan as second-half substitutes.

They were unable to make a difference though, with Lens goalkeeper Brice Samba - recently signed from Premier League side Nottingham Forest - making several important saves.

Inzaghi felt it was a good exercise for Inter, who will be striving to regain the Serie A title next season after being dethroned by city rivals Milan.

Inter head coach Simone Inzaghi is already "very satisfied" with his attacking options after being asked about links with Paulo Dybala.

The Argentina international is a free agent after his contract at Juventus expired and has been strongly linked with a move to the Nerazzurri, among others.

However, Inter have already secured the return of Romelu Lukaku from Chelsea on loan, while Lautaro Martinez also looks set to stay despite rumours of a potential move away.

Dybala scored 115 goals in 293 appearances across all competitions for Juve, but Inter do not appear desperate for more firepower given they scored seven more goals (84) than anyone else in Serie A last season and have brought Lukaku back to San Siro.

When asked by Sportitalia about Dybala, Inzaghi said: "I am very satisfied with the attack, we have put Lukaku in and we know what he will give us. Let's see what the market brings from now to the end in the other positions.

"[Lukaku] and Lautaro are two great champions, they know each other very well and they like to play together. We also saw [Joaquin] Correa, [Edin] Dzeko is back early.

"We had the best attack [in Serie A] last year and I'm very happy with our players."

 

Inzaghi's men secured a 4-1 win against Swiss side Lugano on Tuesday, with Lukaku making his first appearance back in an Inter shirt along with fellow new arrivals Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Andre Onana, Raoul Bellanova and Kristjan Asllani.

Last season's Serie A runners-up triumphed thanks to goals from Danilo D'Ambrosio, Correa and Martinez, who netted twice.

Inzaghi was pleased with the performance and also hinted at a possible future formation change, saying: "We have been good, we have been working for only four days and we have organised a serious match.

"We have seen good actions, I am happy with what I have seen and we are preparing to arrive in the best condition on August 13."

On their formation, he added: "[3-4-1-2] is a solution that we are trying. Our game system is different but it is normal to find alternatives with the attackers we have. 

"There was an opportunity to bring Lukaku home and I am very happy with the options we have."

Romelu Lukaku's return to Inter will provide the Nerazzurri with new options as they look to recover the Scudetto next season, according to head coach Simone Inzaghi, who labelled the striker's exit last year a "huge blow".

Lukaku joined Chelsea in a club-record £97.5million deal last August, but has returned to San Siro on loan after managing just eight goals in 26 Premier League appearances for Thomas Tuchel's team.

The Belgium international scored 64 goals in 95 games during his previous two-year spell with Inter, helping them to the Serie A title in 2020-21, and has described his Nerazzurri comeback as "like coming home".

Inzaghi, who coached Lukaku briefly before he left for Stamford Bridge last year, says the striker will give him new tactical possibilities but remains keen to highlight the contributions made by the club's other forwards last term.

"Last year an excellent relationship was established, which did not last long," Inzaghi recalled at a media conference to mark the beginning of Inter's pre-season. 

"Then this year there was the possibility and the club informed me. For me it was a huge blow [to lose Lukaku last year], without forgetting that our attack was the best in Italy last year. 

 

"Romelu is a very strong player, but I won't forget what the other forwards did last season, who were also excellent with the regret of not having won the Scudetto. This year we start again with great desire.

"It's a bit early ... [but] I already have ideas in my head. Romelu gives us many solutions: we can recover high or low, the further forward the ball is recovered the less you have to run to score. 

"We will have more solutions with him, while understanding that the other forwards did very well." 

Lukaku joins a fearsome Inter attack that scored 84 goals despite missing out on the Serie A title to Milan last term, with Lautaro Martinez scoring 21 league goals and Edin Dzeko finding the net 13 times.

And Inzaghi, who oversaw Lazio scoring 89 league goals in 2017-18 in his previous role, hopes to see one of his array of forwards win Italy's golden boot next season.

He added: "I like that my teams score ... One year with Lazio we had the best attack, one year Immobile won the Golden Boot, last year we [Inter] had the best attack. 

"This year we hope that one of Lukaku, Lautaro, [Joaquin] Correa and Dzeko can win the Capocannoniere."

Lukaku is not the only addition to Inter's squad ahead of the new season, with the Nerazzurri also acquiring former Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana on a free transfer, but Inzaghi says the Cameroon international will have to wait for his chance to displace experienced number one Samir Handanovic.

"In terms of hierarchy, Handanovic will start as the starting goalkeeper," he said. "He deserves it for the season he did last year, which was excellent. 

"Then we all know Onana's value: he is a very young player, the goalkeeper of Inter's future and this year he will already have the opportunities to show it."

Inter get their Serie A campaign underway with a trip to Lecce on August 13, looking to build on last season's Supercoppa Italiana and Coppa Italia successes. 

Simone Inzaghi has signed a contract extension with Inter, tying him to the club until June 2024. 

The 46-year-old took over from Antonio Conte in 2021 and impressed in his first season at the helm of the Nerazzurri, which followed the departures of key duo Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi.

And Inter confirmed on Tuesday that he had signed a new two-year deal.

Despite missing out on the Scudetto to local rivals Milan, Inzaghi did lead Inter to success in the Supercoppa Italiana and the Coppa Italia – requiring extra time to overcome Juventus on both occasions.

As Inter prepare for a bid to regain the Serie A title, the Nerazzurri have taken the decision to hand Inzaghi fresh terms.

Inter are hoping to build on Inzaghi's new deal by sealing a San Siro return for former talisman Lukaku, just one season after selling him to Chelsea for a reported €115million. 

Lukaku endured a tough first season after returning to Stamford Bridge and will hope to rediscover the form that encouraged Chelsea to make him their record signing if he completes his move back to Italy.

Across his two previous seasons at Inter, Lukaku scored 64 goals and supplied 17 assists – both team highs during that time frame. He also led the way in shots on target (132), chances created (133), aerial duels won (185) and dribbles completed (103).

Inter are also locked in talks to sign Paulo Dybala on a free transfer from Juventus, with chief executive Giuseppe Marotta admitting the Nerazzurri's interest in acquiring both attackers on Monday.

 

Tottenham and Chelsea target Alessandro Bastoni will "100 per cent" be staying at Inter, while Simone Inzaghi has agreed a new contract with the Nerazzurri.

That is the message from football agent Tullio Tinti, who represents Inter duo Bastoni and Inzaghi.

Chelsea are in the market for a new centre-back, with Antonio Rudiger leaving for Real Madrid, Andreas Christensen departing and talk of Cesar Azpilicueta joining Barcelona.

Tottenham are also in the search for another defender as Antonio Conte looks to continue to invest to build a side capable of competing in the Premier League and Champions League.

Bastoni has been a name repeatedly linked with the two clubs, alongside Manchester United, but the Italy international's agent Tinti insists a move will not happen.

"Bastoni is currently on vacation," Tinti told reporters. "He is staying at Inter 100 per cent. We respect our contracts and are happy to discuss an extension when Inter call us."

Inter are said to be close to announcing a new contract for coach Inzaghi, who took over from Conte in 2021 and narrowly finished second in Serie A behind Milan.

Tinti simply responded "yes" when asked if the Inzaghi extension was agreed upon, with confirmation expected in the coming days.

Bastoni staying and the Inzaghi extension will provide a boost to Inter, who are aiming to bolster their attacking ranks with the additions of Paulo Dybala and Romelu Lukaku.

Lukaku only left for Chelsea before the start of the 2021-22 campaign in a Blues' record £97.5million move, but is expected to return on loan to the Serie A side.

During his previous two-year spell, no Nerazzurri player scored more goals (64), provided more assists (17) or created as many chances (133) in all competitions than the Belgium international.

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