Inter executive Giuseppe Marotta has insisted forward Lautaro Martínez will only be allowed to join Barcelona if he specifically asks to do so.
Finding a new striker is one of Barcelona’s top priorities and Martínez is believed to be near the top of their wish list. The 22-year-old, who has managed 16 goals and four assists in all competitions this season, will have a €111m release clause in his contract become active in the summer.
Barcelona are rumoured to be readying a summer bid for Martínez, but Marotta told Sky Sport Italia that Inter do not feel as though they need to fold under pressure from any of Europe’s biggest sides.
“Lautaro is growing, he is a very young boy,” he said. “I think he is above all interested in wearing this glorious shirt and growing from a professional point of view.
“Let’s not forget that because of its history, Inter does not envy any other teams, so as I always say, the players will be sold only and exclusively when they themselves indicate that is what they want.”
With Inter determined to hold on to their starlet, Barcelona may be forced to look elsewhere. According to Sport, La Blaugrana remain desperate to sign Martínez, but they are not prepared to go crazy in their attempts to get their man.
Barcelona believe that his €111m release clause, which will be active only for two weeks in July, is too high and does not reflect the direction in which they want to move – especially since they are considering other strikers who are available for far cheaper.
Sport suggest that Barcelona could try to explore sending other players to Inter in exchange. Midfielders Arturo Vidal and Ivan Rakitić have both been linked with moves to Italy, so Barcelona could look to capitalise on that and try save themselves some money in their pursuit of Martínez.
Tuttosport even claim that Antoine Griezmann has been identified as a potential replacement for Martínez at San Siro, but that’s almost certainly not happening as Barcelona are already light on numbers in attack.
With a deal for Martínez potentially looking tricky, Barcelona are considering a number of other strikers. A source has confirmed to 90min that Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is in their sights, and any deal for the Gabon international would certainly be far cheaper.
For more from Tom Gott, follow him on Twitter!