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Inter Milan hand Icardi’s number 9 shirt to Lukaku

Inter Milan’s new signing Romelu Lukaku has been handed the coveted number nine shirt which previously belonged to Mauro Icardi who was stripped of the captaincy last season.

Inter Milan posted a photograph of the Belgian forward wearing the shirt on the club’s Instagram account one day after confirming they had signed him from Manchester United.

Icardi has been Inter Milan’s leading goalscorer for each of the last five seasons.

But new coach Antonio Conte, who replaced Luciano Spalletti after last season, has already said the Argentine is not part of his plans.

Other players to have worn the shirt include Brazilian Ronaldo, Cameroon forward Samuel Eto’o and Argentine Hernan Crespo.

Lukaku said Conte was one of the main reasons he signed for the club.

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The Italian had won three successive Serie A titles with Juventus and an English Premier League (EPL) and FA Cup with Chelsea.

“Yes, the coach was a key factor. He’s the best coach in the world: he manages to improve his players, while his career speaks for itself,” Lukaku told Inter Milan’s TV channel.

The 26-year-old was also motivated by the challenge of helping to rebuild Inter Milan, who have spent nearly a decade in the shadow of bitter rivals Juventus.

Inter Milan, who finished fourth in Serie A last season, have not won a major title since the Coppa Italia in 2011.

Juventus on the other hand have won Serie A for the last eight seasons.

“I needed the challenge where I could help the team build for the future and everything is present here to help me,” he said.

“Here, the foundations are there to do well. Through my commitment and my desire to perform, I want to help this team achieve big things.”(NAN)