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Inter Milan Director Opens Door to Lautaro Martinez Exit Amid Barcelona Rumours

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistDecember 11, 2019

Inter Milan's Lautaro Martinez, right, reacts after a missed scoring opportunity during the Champions League, group F soccer match between Inter Milan and F.C. Barcelona, at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
Luca Bruno/Associated Press

Inter Milan sporting director Giuseppe Marotta has said star forward Lautaro Martinez controls his own future, amid rumours Barcelona are strongly interested in the Argentinian.

Per AS, Marotta stated Martinez is happy in the Italian fashion capital, but if he wanted to leave, the club would negotiate: "We are Inter Milan and we don't have to sell anybody. That said, the future of a player is in their heads. If Lautaro wants to continue with us, we are happy with that. At this moment, he is with us and we are happy. If he wants to take a different path, we will weigh up the situation."

MILAN, ITALY - DECEMBER 10: Lautaro Martinez of Inter competes for the ball with Jean-Clair Todibo of Barcelona during the UEFA Champions League group F match between Inter and FC Barcelona at Giuseppe Meazza Stadium on December 10, 2019 in Milan, Italy.
Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

The Blaugrana have been extensively linked with the 22-year-old and have made no secret of their admiration. Manager Ernesto Valverde praised Martinez ahead of Tuesday's 2-1 win at the San Siro, per Sacha Pisani of Goal, and club director Eric Abidal did the same last month, adding they are monitoring him, per Mundo Deportivo (h/t Football Italia).

Martinez's agent has confirmed Barcelona's interest, per Ole (h/t Pisani).

The mobile forward is having a breakout season with Inter, scoring five goals in the Champions League and eight in Serie A. He's been likened to Luis Suarez, and Ben Hayward of the London Evening Standard explained why the Catalans are looking at a replacement for the Uruguay international:

Ben Hayward @bghayward

Luis Suárez hasn't scored away from home in Champions League since September 2015. Despite the golazos, he's far less effective now at highest level. And tonight he meets the man who could replace him: Lautaro Martínez #InterBarça https://t.co/Dgy5bzJLoX

Martinez bagged a goal at the Camp Nou in the first meeting of the two teams this season, and while he didn't find the net on Tuesday, he still impressed. He could have scored several goals, with the offside flag denying him, and assisted Romelu Lukaku for Inter's equaliser.

The lead-up to the Belgian's goal showed just how versatile Martinez is, per EiF:

EiF @EiFSoccer

And it really isn’t Todibo’s fault, at all. It’s just brilliant holdup play. Sometimes you tip your hat to brilliance. That was one of those moments.

Like Suarez, Martinez contributes far more than just goals. He is a mobile, technically adept forward who can play in space and split out wide, or pick his spot in the box as a sniper.

He already has experience playing alongside Lionel Messi for the national team and is only starting to scratch the surface of his potential.

Per AS, there is a clause in his contract that will make him available for €111 million for two weeks in July. That gives Barcelona plenty of time to continue evaluating him ahead of a possible summer move.