Inter Milan defender Milan Skriniar admits he was flattered to be a summer transfer target for Jose Mourinho, but insists he is more than happy at the Nerazzurri in a resurgent Serie A.
The Slovakia international was one of two Italy-based players — along with Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly — Mourinho had targeted to strengthen his defence at Manchester United last summer.
With 14 goals conceded in the first eight games of the season, the Red Devils have the joint fourth leakiest defence in the Premier League, inevitably refuelling rumours Mourinho will renew his efforts to sign Skriniar this winter.
The 23-year-old says he is not going to be the man to resolve the Red Devils’ rearguard issues, however.
“When some coach like Jose says that he is looking for a player like me or somebody else, it’s always nice, but I don’t know why these rumours continue,” he told ESPN FC. “I’ve not said anything to anybody, just what you can see on the web.
“Even if Jose is one of the most famous, best, greatest coaches in the world, it’s not something I think of because I’m playing for Inter and am happy here at Inter.
“I’m happy in Milan, it’s a great city, even when my parents or friends come here, we have a look around and I’m happy here and relaxed here. When the results are going well too, it’s all even better.”
Skriniar, whose contract with Inter runs until 2022, is currently enjoying his first taste of Champions League football, with the Nerazzurri heading into a double-header with Barcelona with six points out of six.
And he believes they can look forward to those two games, starting with a trip to the Camp Nou next week, with confidence.
“The Champions League is fantastic — it’s the first time I’ve played in this competition and I’m delighted to be able to play in it with Inter,” Skriniar said. “Our first game was unforgettable because we scored in the 95th minute. I think it was important for the fans also because we were back after so many years and we won the first and also the second game, so it’s great.
“It’s important for us and for Barcelona — we’ve both got six points. Now we go to the Nou Camp and we’ll see. We’ve got to show that we can hold our own against them and play a good game and if we can pick up a few points from these two games, it would be even better.
“I remember [the last-minute winner against Tottenham] really well. As I said, it was important to win the first game in the Champions League.”
That opening victory over Tottenham Hotspur confirmed a resurgence of Italian clubs in Europe, with all four Serie A participants — Inter, Juventus, Roma and Napoli — winning in the same week in the last round of matches.
It was the first time since 2005 that four Italian clubs were triumphant in the Champions League in the same week and it helped Serie A narrow the gap on the Premier League in UEFA’s association club coefficients, confirming the appeal of a league which has been enriched by the high-profile arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo at Juve in the summer.
“I’m not sure which football is the stronger,” Skriniar said. “We’ve beaten Tottenham and also Napoli beat Liverpool. Maybe [English football] is the most famous in the world, but I’m not sure which is the strongest.”
Inter have certainly shown their strength with a six-game winning streak spanning Serie A and the Champions League, and initial doubts raised in the Italian media earlier on this season have been dispersed by a return to form which coincided with that win over Spurs.
“We want to finish as high as we can — definitely in the top four — but I think we can get even higher,” Skriniar said. “We’ve got to take it bit by bit, game by game, point by point, so we’ll see.
“We were playing well before, but we were not winning and not scoring goals, but now — maybe with the Tottenham game, that is when we started playing better and also getting results and this was important.”