Oblak scapegoat for saves as contract woes mount, Man Utd courting for second year

Inter Milan’s transfer situation has become a key issue after a penalty shootout with Atletico Madrid left the Nerazzurri scared of being eliminated.

The Nerazzurri fell 1-2 on penalties in the second leg of their 2023-24 UEFA Champions League (UCL) round of 16 tie at the Metropolitano in Madrid, Spain, on Thursday morning (ET). However, a 1-0 win in the first leg tied the tie at 2-2 and sent it to penalties due to the abolition of the away goals rule.

Hakan Chalhanoilou opened the scoring, but second kicker Alexis Sanchez and third kicker Davy Klaassen’s kicks were both saved by the hands and feet of goalkeeper Jan Oblak. It was a moment of despair. AT Madrid, on the other hand, remained calm, with Rodrigo Riquelme and Ángel Correa scoring to erase the memory of second kicker Saul Niguez’s kick being saved by goalkeeper Jan Zomer.

With the tension high, goalkeeper Lautaro stepped up as the final kicker and his powerful kick sliced the air. It was a goodbye shot to the sky. At Madrid celebrated and Inter hung their heads in shame. The defeat was all the more painful because both Oblak and Zomer are experienced, and who knows what would have happened if they had waited until after Lautaro’s success.

Inter won the Italian Serie A title with just one loss and 75 points, effectively clinching the league title. With a whopping 16-point lead over second-place AC Milan (59 points), it was easy to focus on the UCL, but the harshness of the penalty shootout was devastating.

Lautaro, who leads the league in scoring with 23 goals, assisted Marko Arnautovic’s winner in the first leg against Atletico Madrid. It was Lautaro who set the stage for extra time.

Inter, who have been favorites to conquer Europe since the 2009-10 season, are immediately feeling rudderless. In particular, the departure of Lautaro, who is under contract until June 2026, has come to the forefront. Manchester United are the most mouth-watering suitors for the player, who will cost at least €110 million. They have been waiting since the summer of 2022 to sign him.

Chelsea are more interested in Victor Osimhen (Napoli), but Lautaro could be available if he’s willing. Tottenham’s Argentine coach Mauricio Pochettino could be influential. Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich have also been monitoring Lautaro’s progress.

Italian outlet Gazzetta dello Sport highlighted a quote from Inter president Giuseppe Marotta. “At the base, there is the idea that we must all continue to go together, either as Inter or as Routa. That is immutable. He’s the captain of the team,” he said, emphasizing that there was no way Lautaro would ever leave Inter.

Of course, things can always change. “Even though Marotta seems to be in close communication with the club’s owners, Lautaro, who has lost his goals, will be forced to think about a move,” the publication analyzed.

Lautaro won the Serie A title in the 2021-22 season. If he finishes at the top this season, it will be his second league title since joining Inter. However, his bigger dream was the UCL. Now that his dreams have come to an end, he could be looking for a new career path.

Inter will not be able to survive with Lautaro and Markus Thuram. Sanchez is approaching his mid-30s. Arnautovic is out injured. Chalhanoglu in the attacking second line is also struggling to carry the team on his own. The Nerazzurri are facing calls to sell the expensive Lautaro and bring in a player of similar quality. It’s a complicated situation at Inter. Lautaro’s future will be a major issue for Inter for the rest of the season.


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