Inzaghi surprised by Lukaku exit but insists Inter is ready for title defence

Romelu Lukaku was Inter Milan's top goal-scorer last season (24 league goals) as it stormed to its first Scudetto in 11 years, with the Belgium international named best overall MVP of Serie A.

FILE PHOTO: Inter Milan kicks off the new campaign at home to Genoa on Saturday in former Lazio coach Inzaghi's first season at the club, having replaced Antonio Conte in the close season.   -  REUTERS

Inter Milan coach Simone Inzaghi said star striker Romelu Lukaku's departure came as a surprise to him, but he insisted the club is ready to defend its Serie A title this season nonetheless.

Inter kicks off the new campaign at home to Genoa on Saturday in former Lazio coach Inzaghi's first season at the club, having replaced Antonio Conte in the close season.

Lukaku was Inter's top goal-scorer last season (24 league goals) as it stormed to its first Scudetto in 11 years, with the Belgium international named best overall MVP of Serie A, the official league award for the player of the season.

READ: Lukaku aims to follow in Drogba's footsteps at Chelsea

Such form persuaded Chelsea to bring Lukaku back to the Premier League for a reported club record fee of 97.5 million pounds ($132.81 million) last week, with new boss Inzaghi lining up a replacement for the Belgian.

"It was an unexpected departure, it was not planned," Inzaghi told a news conference on Friday.

"We tried to persuade him to stay but the boy was very determined. I understand why he is so appreciated by everyone, he came to me with a lot of intelligence and told me that Chelsea were his dream and that his decision had been made. We talked together with the directors but he had already decided. Now (Edin) Dzeko has arrived and another striker will arrive, too," he added.

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Inter also lost livewire defender Achraf Hakimi to Paris Saint-Germain, with midfielder Christian Eriksen in Denmark being monitored by doctors following his cardiac arrest suffered on the pitch during Euro 2020.

Inzaghi still feels his side is well-prepared.

"We will do everything to ensure that things go well this season," he added.

"It is a season where there will be difficulties but I am confident. The goal is tomorrow's match against Genoa. Something is missing from the (transfer) market but I am happy with what we have done so far. We knew we would have problems, we had to sell Hakimi, we will not have Eriksen and then the unexpected sale of Lukaku came. But the boys have worked hard and we are determined to do our best to defend the Scudetto we have on our chest," Inzaghi said.

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