According to his agent, Inter forward Lautaro Martinez has attracted plenty of interest from some of Europe’s elite clubs – with four top sides reportedly calling him about the 22-year-old.
Alberto Yaque’s admission should come as no surprise, given the way Martinez has settled into Serie A football since signing a five-year deal from Racing Club for £22.5m in 2018.
This season has been his most impressive yet: scoring 17 goals and creating four assists across all competitions.
With two-and-a-half months left of the 19-20 season before the pandemic suspended sport last month, it’s fair to presume he would have continued progressing alongside Romelu Lukaku in Antonio Conte’s side as they charged down Juventus and Lazio in an exciting title race.
Yaque said the following, during an interview with Clarin: “We don’t know what will happen, we pay attention to what the media say about it. It’s true that Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea and City called me, but we don’t know if they have any kind of agreement with Inter.”
According to reports in the Spanish press, Barcelona are leading the chase to sign the highly-rated forward – bolstered by Lionel Messi’s presence, who is Lautaro’s captain for Argentina.
However, Martinez is happy in Milan and given his contractual situation, they find themselves in a position of power right now. Back in January, he was quoted saying:
“I am doing my best at Inter – I only focus on giving my all on the pitch. I am happy [here], I try to work hard and stay focused. That’s my goal with this club.“
Therefore, it’s understandable that he would be in no rush to move on immediately – not least given the competition that would await him at another big side.
Why do Barca appear frontrunners?
His performances in Italy and more recently, the Champions League, have seen his stock rise.
The Argentina international reportedly caught Barca’s eye late last year, with suggestions in December that his agent held talks with Blaugrana officials after Barca’s 2-1 win on MD6.
It was reported recently that Inter are seeking to tie Martinez down to a new deal, as he has a release clause in his current contract of €111m (£94m).
Barca’s first-choice forward – Luis Suarez – turned 33 in January and is recovering from knee surgery.
The Uruguayan has little over a year left on his existing deal and is considering his options, while emergency signing Martin Braithwaite appears a short-term fix for a long-term issue in attack.
Given the collective eagerness for top sides to boast the best young talent, who can better their chances of long-term success, it’s likely a bidding war could ensue for Martinez’s services, whether that’s this summer or later in future.
You’d be right to expect none of them to activate his £94m release clause after one season as an established starter, but with Kylian Mbappe and Erling Braut Haaland linked with moves too, you never know.