Barcelona has been dealt a blow in their hunt to sign Lautaro Martinez from Italian side Inter.
The Italian club’s chief executive officer Giuseppe Marotta told Sky Sport Italia the Argentine striker has never asked to leave and added that he is confident he will still be at the club next season.
“Lautaro Martinez is the focus of other clubs’ attention on the transfer market, everyone knows this. He has immense quality and many teams who would love to negotiate with us for him. Inter have no intention of selling our best players, so if a player does not express the desire to leave, then we’ll hold on tight.
“Lautaro is flattered by the attention of big clubs, but he has never expressed the desire to leave. Never. I am very optimistic that we’ll see him playing for us again next season.
“There has been a lockdown for three months, so he should be evaluated on what he’s done all season, not just in the Coppa Italia semi-final with Napoli.”
This is not the first time Marotta has made it clear his team does not want to part with the 22-year-old. He said earlier this month that Inter would “see what Barcelona want to do,” while also confirming Martinez has a release clause in his contract that expires on July 7.
Inter sporting director Piero Ausilio has previously insisted the Nerazzurri would only sell if a club met Martinez’s €111 million clause.
Martinez Distracted by Barcelona Talk?
Martinez has caught Barca’s eye this season after scoring 16 times for Inter. Yet he has gone off the boil a little and has not found the back of the net in his last five games for Antonio Conte’s side.
Goal‘s Mark Doyle reported that Martinez was “the worst player on the pitch” in Inter’s Coppa Italia defeat to Napoli which has fuelled “accusations that his mind is already at Camp Nou.”
Inter will be hoping Martinez can rediscover his goalscoring touch before the end of the season. The team still has 13 Serie A fixtures left to play as well as a Europa League tie against La Liga side Getafe.
Barca Finances an Issue
Finances are an issue for Barca and a reason why they will not find it easy to agree a deal with Inter for Martinez. The club need to sell players before the end of June and must bring in €70 million, according to ESPN’s Sam Marsden and Moises Llorens.
Former Inter striker Ivan Zamorano has questioned whether the Catalan giants can even afford to bring in Martinez in an interview with MisionTUDN.
“I really hope Lautaro stays at Inter. He is a young guy, 22 years old; Cavani is 11 years older and has enormous experience in different clubs. But Cavani’s arrival has nothing to do with the sale of Lautaro. Barcelona have economic problems that don’t allow them to sign Lautaro, so in my opinion he’ll stay, I have no doubt.”
Barcelona is therefore likely to try and include players in any deal for Martinez but may also need the player to try and force a transfer if they are to land the Argentine this summer.