Exclusive – Barcelona are confident an agreement to sign Inter forward Lautaro Martínez is all but finalised.
The Argentine is Barcelona’s top target for the summer as they look to prepare themselves for a future without 33-year-old Luis Suárez, but La Blaugrana are no longer blessed with a seemingly infinite pool of money to fund their shopping sprees.
Big-money signings like Ousmane Dembélé, Philippe Coutinho and Antoine Griezmann have set Barcelona back close to £400m and garnered very little reward, so club officials are working to find ways to offload those players and recover some of that money.
Away from the financial side of things, the impending 2021 presidential elections have left Barcelona without a real long-term plan, while current manager Quique Sétien is only viewed as a stand-in as they try to convince former midfielder Xavi to return, so the boardroom at Camp Nou is split on a number of issues.
In an attempt to get things back in order, a source has confirmed to 90min that Barcelona’s focus is on offloading a number of players to increase their transfer budget.
Alongside the aforementioned trio, the likes of Samuel Umtiti, Ivan Rakiti?, Arturo Vidal and Martin Braithwaite are all available for transfer, and Inter would be Barcelona’s preferred destination as they hope it would save them some money in their pursuit of Martínez.
If Inter choose to decline any form of swap deal, Barcelona are looking at a staggered payment plan which would see them pay a small amount up front and a large part of the sum in 12 months’ time.
Regardless of how the deal is financed, Barcelona are confident they will be able to get things sorted out soon enough, and Martínez’s desire to head to Camp Nou has proven to be a huge help in convincing Inter to sell.
While the focus is on Martínez, Barcelona are also looking at other targets, with Ajax duo Nicolás Tagliafico and Donny van de Beek in their sights.
The main problem with such deals is that Barcelona’s finances will be even more ravaged, so any agreement would have to be seriously staggered in Barcelona’s favour, which is hardly ideal for any selling club.
La Blaugrana hope that the positive relationship between the two clubs, which stems from the career of Dutch icon Johan Cruyff and was only improved by last summer’s purchase of Frenkie de Jong, will work in their favour, but there is an acceptance that other sides could offer deals which will be more appealing to Ajax.
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