Lautaro Martinez will be one of Europe’s most coveted stars in 2020, and Barcelona have reportedly lined up a deal worth $11 million (€10 million) per year to sign the Inter Milan striker.
The Blaugrana have been closely linked with the Nerazzurri frontman this season, with speculation growing that Martinez could succeed the ageing frame of Luis Suarez at the Camp Nou.
Nizaar Kinsella and Ignasi Oliva of Goal reported Barcelona are willing to offer their target a handsome sum in order to tempt him to Catalonia, while Inter will likely do their utmost to keep one of the hottest prospects emerging out of South America.
Martinez—widely believed to be Barca's No. 1 target—is reported to have a $121 million (€111 million) release clause that will be active in the first two weeks of July. However, the coronavirus pandemic means the European season is likely to still be ongoing at that point, leaving question marks over what that means for his clause.
The 22-year-old joined Inter from Racing Club in July 2018 and has scored 25 times in 66 appearances for the Italian titans.
He’s already made an impression against Barcelona and netted against the Catalans during this season’s UEFA Champions League group stage in October (Inter lost 2-1 at the Camp Nou), via B/R Live:
Lionel Messi has publicly declared admiration for his Argentina team-mate—who has nine goals in 17 games for his country—and he told Mundo Deportivo (h/t Sport) in February:
"He's spectacular. He's got a lot of impressive qualities. I can see he's going to become a great player, he's exploded on to the scene now and is showing what he's capable of. He's very strong, beats his man and scores goals. He'll fight with anyone in the box, holds on to the ball, and can produce moments by himself. He's got a lot of quality and is a very complete player.”
Suarez, 33, has a contract with Barca until June 2021—with a performance-based option to extend—and the club are sure to be contemplating when to replace their star man up front.
Argentinian football writer Roy Nemer lauded Martinez’s impact for the national team, where he has already struck a promising partnership alongside Messi:
The salary offer reportedly on the table is still far below Barcelona's top earners, but it's believed that wage will allow them to complete the deal while complying with UEFA's Financial Fair Play regulations.
Agreeing a fee with Inter remains the most significant obstacle to a deal, and it’s uncertain whether Barcelona would be able to afford the release clause, especially in light of the economic impact felt following the COVID-19 pandemic.