Lautaro negotiations not halted by Ausilio’s statements – sources

Lautaro Martínez, against FC Barcelona, in the UEFA Champions League / ALEX CAPARROS/GETTY IMAGES EUROPE
Lautaro Martínez, against FC Barcelona, in the UEFA Champions League / ALEX CAPARROS/GETTY IMAGES EUROPE

This article was written in collaboration with Miquel Blázquez Font and Aina Canales.

Lautaro Martínez’ situation continues to be in the air, with sources from FC Barcelona now confirming to Blaugranagram the club’s stance on the operation.

Barcelona are, like other clubs, planning ahead for the summer transfer window, which will be heavily influenced by player exchange deals.

The Catalans are keen on signing Lautaro Martínez, and sources from Barça confirm to Blaugranagram that Martínez has the approval of the dressing room, with several players also having publicly voiced their admiration for the striker, including the likes of Ivan Rakitić, Lionel Messi, and Luis Suárez.

Sources from Barcelona confirm to Blaugranagram that the club remains interested in signing Lautaro Martínez, despite the recent statements from Inter’s sporting director, Piero Ausilio, with him stating that the forward only will leave through his release clause.

Barcelona are aware that the interest of a club of their caliber will drive Inter’s asking price up, although sources confirm that Barcelona remain somewhat unfazed by Ausilio’s recent statements.

Should Lautaro directly tell Inter that he wants to leave for Barcelona, the Italians know they will be forced to negotiate with the Catalans as to avoid keeping an unhappy player at the club, in addition to profiting off of a sale of a forward they bought for 25 million euros, when he signed from Racing Club back in 2018.

Barcelona are aware of Inter’s stance on the situation, and the Italians would be happy to receive 80 to 90 million euros for the sale, although the price is deemed high by Barcelona given the circumstances.

And because of this, Barcelona have offered several players to Inter, in exchange for Martínez, including Arturo Vidal and Rafinha, who has been loaned out to Inter in the past, despite not having been bought for an agreed on price tag of 35 million euros that Inter said they would pay, as part of a ‘gentleman’s agreement’.

The Brazilian midfielder has impressed with Celta Vigo, who are keen on retaining him, but could also attract interest in Italy, and Barcelona have deemed him a fitting name to include in a deal that would send Martínez to the Camp Nou. On-loan players could potentially be key to the deal happening, with Barcelona having names such as Jean-Clair Todibo, Moussa Wagué, Rafinha and Philippe Coutinho returning from their loan spells in the off-season.

Junior Firpo also interests Inter Milan, with him having moved from the Benito Villamarín just last summer, to then be reunited with Quiqué Setien in Barcelona.

Philippe Coutinho’s name has also been thrown in the mix, as Bayern have decided to not execute their option to buy the Brazilian at the end of his loan spell. His future remains in the air, although Setién is keen on deploying him in midfield. However, with his high salary being a part of Barcelona’s wage bill, a move back to Milan has been mentioned as a possibility for the out-of-favor attacking midfielder.

Barcelona’s inclusions have, according to club sources, not been satisfactory for Inter yet, but the club is working on relieving itself of a bigger wage bill, while at the same time benefitting Inter and getting Martínez to dress in the Blaugrana colors.

Inter is not the only Italian club that Barcelona have been negotiating with, having also spoken to Juventus where Miralem Pjanić and Mattia De Sciglio continue to interest the Catalans. In this instance, names have also been mentioned as part of potential swap deals, with Arthur definitively refusing to leave the club.

Lautaro Martínez’ contract with the Italians runs out in 2023, with his release clause set at 150 million euros, although it is reduced to 111 million euros during 15 days in July. Ausilio, during his latest interview with Sky, did not hide the fact that this release clause has certain deadlines that should be upheld, making it a difficult operation. Moreover, if Barcelona can add players to sweeten the deal, thus lowering the monetary value that should be included, it is in the club’s best interest to do so.

The summer transfer window will be a long one, in addition to being unusual due to the coronavirus pandemic, and Barcelona remain keen on bringing in Martínez, despite the recent statements by the Nerazzurri’s sporting director.