Barcelona need to raise around €70m in player sales by June 30 if they are to press on with signing Inter forward Lautaro Martínez this summer.
Martínez comes with a €111m release clause inserted into his contract, which both Barcelona and Inter have accepted will be impossible to trigger given the financial impact the coronavirus outbreak has made on world football. Even Barcelona have suffered as a result.
Selling players has been an easy way of raising money in years gone by, but that hasn’t come so easy for Barcelona in recent years. They have spent huge sums on the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembélé and Antoine Griezmann and earned very little in return.
According to Mundo Deportivo, things have taken such a turn that Barcelona need to raise €70m before the end of the financial year if they are to break even.
There are a few players who are expected to be moved on, with Coutinho, Jean-Clair Todibo, Rafinha, Moussa Wagué and Carles Aleñá all named as likely casualties of the situation.
The goal is to have enough money raised by the end of June to be able to balance the books, which will then allow Barcelona to start focusing on their transfer business for next season. The obvious man in their sights is Martínez, who will cost at least €60m in cash on top of at least one player.
Inter have made no secret of their desire to keep Martínez, and chief executive Giuseppe Marotta told La Gazzetta dello Sport that he hopes Barcelona decide against pursuing a deal.
“It is difficult to pronounce on his future at this moment, but I say to him – stay focused on the present, there is a season that resumes, there are goals to hit,” Marotta said.
“There is no desire to sell Lautaro. He is young, has the future in his hands and is a functional element for [Antonio] Conte. Then, of course, there is a clause.
“I don’t know what Barcelona think, maybe they will also have alternatives. I hope they don’t pay the clause. If Lautaro [leaves], a top player will arrive.
“But in this market, at European level the real difficulty will not be having to buy, but being able to sell. I would say one thing in general – Neymar-style operations, in which one team goes and takes one player away from another, will not be seen for many years.”
For more from ?Tom Gott, follow him on ?Twitter!