Barcelona has been warned that top transfer target Lautaro Martinez is not for sale this summer.
Inter chief executive officer Beppe Marotta told DAZN the club has no interest in selling their striker, and the only way he could leave for Barcelona would be to ask for a transfer away from the San Siro.
“We have been very clear on Lautaro, stating more than once, Inter are a noble club and have no intention of selling the best players. That goes for Lautaro. If the player does not manifest the desire to leave – and he has not – then there’s no reason why he should go to another club.”
Martinez does have a €111 million ($125m) release clause in his contract which is active until July 7. Yet the Catalan giants do not want to meet the clause and are trying to include players in the deal instead, according to Mundo Deportivo’s Fabio Marchi.
Barcelona view Martinez as the perfect long-term replacement for Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan turned 33 in January and his contract at the club expires at the end of next season.
Martinez Back in the Goals for Inter
Martinez was back in the goals for Inter on Sunday in a 2-1 win over Sampdoria. The striker had gone five games without finding the back of the net, prompting suggestions he had been distracted by the speculation over his future.
The 22-year-old played a role in Inter’s first goal, scored by striker partner Romelu Lukaku, and then added the second for the Nerazzurri from close range.
His goal takes his tally to 12 for the season in Serie A from 23 appearances, and he’s also netted five times in the Champions League for Inter.
Is Aubemayang Barcelona’s Plan B?
Despite all the speculation a move to Barcelona still looks difficult. Inter are understandably unwilling to sell such an important player, while finances are an issue for Barcelona currently.
Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is viewed as Barcelona’s Plan B if they can’t land Martinez, according to Gianluca Di Marzio. The striker has recently fuelled comments about his future with an interview with Telefoot.
“Recently I have not received an offer to extend. But of course we have had exchanges with the club, for a fair few months now. And they know very well why so far nothing has happened. They have the keys. Up to them to do their work and after that we will see how things go.
“As you said it is a turning point in my career, and I will be very frank with everyone, it will certainly be a very difficult decision to make. Because I still have not decided and we will see. It will maybe be the most important decision of my career.”
Aubameyang is clearly not a long-term option for Barcelona, since he is already into his thirties, but he is a prolific goalscorer and would be far cheaper than Martinez.