Manchester United have offered Ashley Young a one-year contract extension in order to fend off interest from Inter Milan.
That was the Sky Sports News headline on Thursday morning, one that raises eyebrows higher with each word.
Many observers of the 34-year-old’s latter years would question a) why Inter have an interest, and b) why United would fend it off.
Young has been a dedicated servant to the Old Trafford club for eight and half seasons, occupying nearly every outfield position at one time or another.
Many would also say he’s been one of United’s best players this season.
But the England international has his limitations and has become emblematic of the testing post-Fergie years.
If the rumours are to be believed, Antonio Conte sees something in him that could help his side end Juventus’ eight-season stranglehold over Serie A.
The ex-Juve coach is masterminding a serious challenge to the Old Lady’s crown with Inter currently top of the league on goal difference.
A key factor in Inter’s improvement is the impressive tune Conte has got out of Romelu Lukaku.
The Belgian forward has 14 league goals at this stage of the season, one more than Cristiano Ronaldo.
He has formed an effective strike partnership with Lautaro Martinez in a 3-5-2 formation.
Conte famously wanted to sign Lukaku when he was Chelsea manager and, given the synergy between the two, the hulking striker may wish he had chosen Stamford Bridge over Old Trafford in 2017.
The two finally joined forces in Milan in the summer of 2019 and were joined by Alexis Sanchez soon after.
Lukaku’s spell at Man United was paradisaical compared to the misery endured by the Chilean.
With Lukau and Sanchez on Inter’s books and Young in the crosshairs, the question has to be: why is Conte trying win Serie A with Man United’s 2018/19 team?
Okay, that may be an exaggeration.
While Lukaku has been a prominent figure, Sanchez’s involvement has been limited by injury.
And it would be ignorant to disregard the contributions of Inter’s current players who have no previous links to Old Trafford; not least the aforementioned Martinez, the inexhaustible Marcelo Brozovic, and the talismanic Stefan de Vrij.
Conte deserves the lion’s share of the credit for Inter’s turnaround.
With Mauro Icardi and Ivan Perisic on loan at PSG and Bayern Munich respectively, the Italian tactician is without Inter’s two top scorers from 2018/19.
Restoring Lukaku’s confidence has been his most notable success but every positive stems from his influence one way or another.
While the Nerazzurri have been refreshed by Conte’s appointment, Juventus have not developed as hoped under Maurizio Sarri — though the ex-Chelsea coach can point to one league defeat in 18 games as evidence of positive results.
Many consider Serie A to be inferior to the Premier League but few question Juve’s overall quality, and so for Inter to be matching their old rivals surely commands respect from English shores.
If Conte were to deliver Inter’s first Scudetto since 2010 with the help of three maligned 2018/19 Man United players, the reaction in Manchester would be interesting… to put it mildly.
Could it be that the stuttering squad of 2018/19 may have performed admirably under the guidance of the right manager; a manager of Conte’s abilty, for example?