Inter Milan Sporting Director Piero Ausilio has given his thoughts on Romelu Lukaku, and also revealed that striker Lautaro Martinez was close to joining Atletico Madrid.

The Nerazzurri executive gave a long interview to Radio Serie A, via FCInterNews. He also discussed a number of other players.

Ausilio is one of Inter’s main men behind the scenes.

The 51-year-old has been with the Nerazzurri in various capacities for 25 years.

For a decade or so, Ausilio has held the role of Sporting Director. This has meant that he has been at the forefront of Inter’s vision and strategy in terms of signings and building the squad.

Since the arrival of CEO Beppe Marotta in 2018, the pair have worked in tandem to mastermind Inter’s sporting project.

Therefore, Ausilio has experienced all the highs and lows behind the scenes in terms of Inter’s transfer dealings.

Ausilio On Lukaku Summer Soap Opera

Ausilio was, naturally, one of the main men who dealt with Romelu Lukaku during the controversial summer transfer saga that saw the Belgian fall out with Inter.

Asked if that transfer saga was the most disappointing of his career, the 51-year-old replied that “There are more than just one disappointments.”

“It’s a disappointment for how it ended,” he admitted. “But I don’t want to talk about a player who’s at another club.”

“I like to look to the future,” he said.

“Lukaku is part of Inter’s past,” Ausilio made clear. “And if I have to think about the past, there are great things.”

He named “The title that we won, two finals that we reached and lost. And then the huge profit we made on him.”

As far as the summer soap opera, Ausilio said that “I prefer not to talk about it.”

“I’ll just say that in all things, you need proper manners and respect.”

“At a certain point, those things are absent,” he said. “Many transfers collapse, but if you can communicate openly to each other’s faces, then it’s never a problem.”

“If you aren’t answeering phone calls, or talk through other people, that’s not the right way to act. For me, then it’s time to immediately move on.”

“For me it’s been over since July 8th,” Ausilio said of the relationship between Inter and Lukaku,

“I’m very happy with what came after that,” he said.

“The phone call is a ‘myth,'” Ausilio said. Some reports suggested that there was an angry phone call between the Inter Sporting Director and Lukaku.

“I eventually got through to him, but the call didn’t last long.”

“I was polite but also firm,” he said. “And then it becomes a story that gets passed around. But I only said what I thought.”

There were also the departure of Milan Skriniar and missing out on Lazar Samardzic this summer.

Ausilio mused that “It didn’t go as we expected. But you always learn something from these experiences.”

Lautaro Had Been Close To Atletico

Ausilio also gave his thoughts on some transfers he’s pulled off at Inter over the years.

“Lautaro’s story is a particular one,” he said of the current Inter captain.

“He was virtually already an Atletico player. And when you take a plane there knowing you have maybe a 1% chance of signing him.. it was a crazy four days.”

“There was a clause which Lautaro didn’t want to activate because he felt a bond with his hometown club,” Ausilio noted.

“And we worked as a team to sign him, very well,” he went on.

“Zanetti gave us a big help. And Milito was Racing Club President at the time.”

“In the evening there was a match that was disastrous for us,” he noted.

Lautaro scored three goals and a penalty against Huracan. That meant that he cost us even more!”

As far as the toughest deal to complete, Ausilio said “Certainly Lautaro, but also others.”

“Getting Pavard from Bayern wasn’t easy,” he noted.

“The coach and the club didn’t want to deprive themselves of him.”

And as far as players he’s missed out on, Ausilio joked that “Sometimes it’s better not to remember.”

“However, I will mention the name of an incredible person, Pierluigi Casiraghi, my second father in sports, who spotted good players before others.”

“He returned with Fabregas who he’s seen as a sixteen-years old.”

“We did everything we could to sign him,” he said of the legendary Spanish midfielder. “But in the end he left Barcelona to join Arsenal.”

Long-Term Chase Of Marcus Thuram Revealed

Ausilio also gave his thoughts on Inter’s current in-form striker Marcus Thuram.

The 26-year-old joined Inter on a free transfer in the summer. But the Nerazzurri’s interest stretched a lot further back than that.

Thuram has formed a highly effective strike parntership with Lautaro Martinez this season. Ausilio said that “They’re a great pairing.”

“But I’d say we have a great quartet,” he added. “Right now those two are in the spotlight. But we also have Arnautovic and Sanchez.”

Of Thuram, Ausilio said that “The first time I spoke about him with the club was after Lukaku’s sale to Chelsea.”

“He played as a winger at Gladbach,” the Inter Sporting Director noted. “He didn’t even know he could play as a striker.”

“Dzeko was brought in on a free transfer, but we needed another striker to complete the attacking options.”

“He was the player we chose,” Ausilio said of Thuram. “But then he got injured.”

“I had already spoken with his father, with Marcus. The negotiation was progressing, also thanks to Mino Raiola, a particular man but one of the best agents I’ve dealt with.”

“We had almost wrapped everything up, but on Sunday before the final meetings, he got injured and was out for a few months, so we changed our focus.”

Inter ended up signing Joaquin Correa from Lazio rather than Thuram.

“But the meetings with his father were the basis,” Ausilio said.

“In recent days he’s reminded me that I was the first to tell him that Marcus could be a centre-forward.”

“We already had a project that we’d finalized with him. And we took advantage of that.”

Ausilio On Signing Sommer To Replace Onana

The Nerazzurri Sporting Director also opened up on the decision to sign Yann Sommer from Bayern Munich to replace Andre Onana following the Cameroonian’s big money sale to Manchester United.

He called the pair “Two different goalkeepers.”

“But we needed certainty, because we had also decided to make a change regarding Handanovic.”

“I’ll take this opportunity to say that Samir is staying and continuing to work with us.”

“There is a project for the next two years,” he explained.

Back to the decision to sign Sommer, Ausilio said that “We wanted to go for someone certain, who’s ready right away.”

“We could have focused on younger players who could eventually be sold for a profit. But Sommer was what we needed at the time.”