Inter Milan chief executive Giuseppe Marotta claims Romelu Lukaku is ‘untouchable’ this summer.

Lukaku has been in great form for the Nerazurri since joining from Manchester United in August 2019.

Last season, he achieved 24 goals in 36 Serie A games as Inter won their first league title in 11 years.

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Manager Antonio Conte also played a vital role in that success, but the 51-year-old soon walked out after learning of the club’s decision to sell key players.

Wing-back Achraf Hakimi signed for Paris Saint-Germain earlier this month for £60.9million.

Squad players Ashley Young and Joao Mario have left on free transfers, while Matteo Politano has joined rivals Napoli.

Lukaku has been linked with a return to Chelsea as a cheaper alternative to Dortmund striker Erling Haaland.

But Marotta believes the striker will remain at the San Siro for the 2021/22 campaign.

He told Italian outlet Mediaset (via Fabrizio Romano): “Romelu Lukaku is untouchable for us this summer, absolutely. He’s a key player for Inter.”

Chelsea will instead have to bid for Haaland if they want to replace Timo Werner up front.

Roman Abramovich has already put aside £150m for the transfer to go ahead this summer.

Such a move would see Chelsea avoid a scramble next year, when Haaland’s £68m release clause is expected to activate.

Blues legend Ashley Cole has previously said ‘no one respected’ Lukaku at Stamford Bridge.

He was contracted with the London side between 2011 and 2014 but had to rely on loan spells at West Brom and Everton for opportunities.

Cole said: “He joined as a kid, he joined as a 17-year-old.

“[He was] a raw talent, his game understanding was not great. Didier Drogba was his kind of father figure who used to help him in terms of developing his technique and understanding of movement.

“And then I think the two loans really gave him that self belief that he was good enough. Yes, he was still young but he still had a point to prove.

“I think no one kind of respected him at Chelsea, in terms of the fans. When he did play, was he going to be the top striker for Chelsea? He had Didier Drogba in front of him.

“For him to go on loan and prove to himself, he definitely came back with that self-belief, that courage, and now his performances have been second to none, he’s been quality.”

Lukaku eventually secured a permanent move to Everton worth £32m.

He joined United three years later and went on to score 42 goals in 96 appearances for the Red Devils.

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