Javier Zanetti: Inter's Lautaro Martinez Has 'A Future in Italian Football'

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2020

Inter Milan's Argentinian forward Lautaro Martinez gestures during the Italian Serie A football match Lazio Rome vs Inter Milan on February 16, 2020 at the Olympic stadium in Rome. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP) (Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP via Getty Images)

Lautaro Martinez is "very happy" at Inter Milan and has "a future in Italian football," according to Nerazzurri vice-president Javier Zanetti. 

The Argentinian striker has been linked with a move to Barcelona since last summer. 

During an impressive 2019-20 campaign in which he has netted 11 Serie A goals and formed a fine partnership with Romelu Lukaku, those links have not gone away, especially after Luis Suarez suffered a serious knee injury:

B/R Football @brfootball

A big loss for Barca. https://t.co/vr1xMzvSvD

Muhammad Butt @muhammadbutt

add Lautaro Martinez and a fast winger to the front-line with Messi and the entire attack just transforms. you saw a glimpse of it when Braithwaite came on and he's just an average player.

Zanetti, though, has moved to make assurances that Martinez will stay at Inter. He told Radio Continental (h/t Santi Gimenez of AS):

"Right now, I see him having a future in Italian football. We are very happy with him, and he is very happy too with Inter Milan."

Per Gimenez, Barca are considering potentially meeting Martinez's €111 million (£102 million) release clause, although they are also hoping that the fee could be lowered when the 2019-20 season is eventually finished.

Martinez, 22, signed for Inter from Argentinian side Racing in July 2018 for €22.7 million (£20 million).

In his debut campaign at the club he scored six goals and provided two assists in 27 appearances as Inter finished fourth in Serie A.

This term, he has increased his output, contributing to a goal every 139 minutes in Serie A compared to every 167 minutes last term.

He and Lukaku have played a key role in Inter's title bid under Antonio Conte this term:

OptaPaolo @OptaPaolo

2 - #Inter have two players with 8+ goals scored (#Lautaro Martínez and Romelu #Lukaku) in the first 14 games played in Serie A this season for the first time since 2001/02, with Christian Vieri and Mohammed Kallon. Duo. #InterSPAL https://t.co/bpvrpJvimB

Unfortunately for Inter, their 2-0 loss to Juventus in their final game before Serie A was suspended due to the coronavirus has left them nine points off the pace in Serie A, although they do have a game in hand:

Lega Serie A @SerieA_EN

This is the standing after Matchday 26. #SerieATIM #WeAreCalcio https://t.co/CXXMV1h77I

If the 2019-20 Serie A season is ever completed, it is looking increasingly unlikely Inter will win their first Scudetto since 2010.

But they have shown this term they are ready to challenge for titles again, and they will need to keep hold of Martinez if that is to continue.