FC Barcelona are pushing ahead with plans to make Lautaro Martinez their star signing this summer. The club have been working hard and the player is prioritising a move to Camp Nou as long as the financial package on offer is adequate.
The club put the foot on the accelerator to block Real Madrid, who emerged on the scene in January. Lautaro will opt for Barça in the event he moves to Spain but there's danger from the Premier League. Manchester City and Chelsea are ready to make big moves for the Argentine forward but Barça remain optimistic.
Barça's sporting commission met with the president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, when the January window closed. They spoke about plans for the future and two star names were on the table. One was Neymar, who remains tough to sign due to PSG's posture, and the other is Lautaro. Bartomeu believes Barça need a new star in attack to revitalise the team and the Inter man is the goal scorer they are looking for.
Talks with Lautaro have been ongoing for months. Barça are convinced the player's word will be key. They are certain he wants to take the next step in his career and is prepared to leave Italy and listen to offers. Madrid made their move, but Lautato prefers Barça, where he would play alongside compatriot Lionel Messi. It's a firm decision and Madrid chief Florentino Perez knows.
NO INTER SALES
Barça have managed to convince Lautaro due to their future plans but it's also true that the Argentine wants an offer in line with his status. Finances have still not been spoken about and the coronavirus crisis has slowed everything down. March was set to be a key month in negotiations but it's not the ideal moment now.
In principle, Barça's problem is England. Lautaro rejected an approach from Manchester United but his people have listened to City and Chelsea. And Barça know one of those clubs have made a huge offer. But for Lautaro, the Premier League is not a priority, although things could become complicated, as they did with Frenkie de Jong last year. The Dutchman finally ended up at Camp Nou, rejecting PSG and Man City when as tone stage he'd looked lost.
Inter will respect the player's decision but they won't change their demands. Lautaro has a €111 million release clause in the first 15 days of July, although that price could be the reference for the entire summer. Barça believe it is too high and hope to reduce it by including players in a swap deal. Arturo Vidal is liked by Inter and their coach, Antonio Conte.
At the moment, Barça have placed Lautaro ahead of Neymar. The club believe there will not be money for the two, although they will explore all possible avenues. Negotiations for Lautaro will be easier and that's the Argentine's advantage. There is optimism but it won't be easy.