Manchester United may have an ace up their sleeve in their pursuit of Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez.
The striker has been in great form for the Nerazzurri this season, netting 16 goals in 27 games in all competitions.
The 22-year-old’s performances have attracted interest from many of the world’s elite, including Manchester City, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Barcelona are definitely in pole position and are said to be willing to trigger the €111 million (£93 million) release clause. It has also been reported that the Argentinian favours a move to the Neu Camp to play alongside Leonel Messi, but there are complications that may scupper the deal for the Blaugranas.
One anomaly is the curious stipulation that the €111 million release clause is only active during the first two weeks of July. At other times, Inter are free to refuse any offer.
Reports from Italy suggest that Inter will not budge on the price and are in no hurry to sell their prize asset, whose contract runs to 2023, and may between now and June offer Martinez an improved contract, with a higher buyout fee, to fend off Barcelona’s advances.
The Times reports that United have already made enquiries about the Argentinian but have balked at the quoted buyout figure.
City and Real are reportedly not as far down the road in terms of a move for the player, but have sent scouts to watch him in action. The MEN claims that the Citizens are ‘keeping tabs’ on the player.
If Inter do manage to resist Barcelona’s advances, United may still have a way of getting their man: Paul Pogba.
If the Frenchman is indeed set to leave Old Trafford in the summer, Inter might be a possible destination and according to The Mirror, the Italians have already expressed their interest. Head coach Antonio Conte has worked with Pogba before at Juventus and is keen to be reunited with the World Cup winner. He may therefore be willing to allow Martinez to move the other way in a player-plus-cash deal.
Of course, such a deal would have to be approved by the Argentinian himself, but in Pogba, United do have a trump card that could help them land their number one summer target.