Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez’s proposed transfer to Barcelona is on the rocks, offering Manchester United a chance to sign the prolific striker.
The Argentinian has been linked with a host of the world’s biggest clubs for some time, but Barcelona had emerged as the favourites due to the player’s dream of playing alongside his compatriot Lionel Messi.
But the Blaugranas, who before the coronavirus crisis hit were linked with a move for both Martinez and Neymar, are now seemingly unable to pay the €111 million (£97 million) release clause and have started offering players in a swap deal instead.
Describing the move as a ‘final offensive’, Sport claims that ‘the list of players offered by Barça includes Umtiti, Júnior Firpo, Semedo, Arturo Vidal and Rafinha and Todibo, who are currently out on loan.’
The outlet further believes that Inter are particularly interested in Arturo Vidal.
It smacks of desperation from Barcelona and it would seem unlikely that 32-year-old Vidal, whose market value is now just £9 million, would be of much interest to the Nerazzurri, especially following their disappointing loan of his countryman Alexis Sanchez.
AS.com is also running with the story, claiming that Barça will only offer €60 million (£52m) plus up to two players.
Of course, Barça do have players in Antoine Griezmann and Philippe Coutinho who might tempt the Serie A side and who have been linked with departures from the Camp Nou but the Catalans have not put them forward as options.
The six suggested swaps are reminiscent of the five suggested part-exchange deals Juventus reportedly offered the Red Devils last week to try to land their top target, Paul Pogba – another list that would almost certainly be of no interest to the selling club.
As reported here in February, the fact is that as Inter are also in the race to sign Pogba and United have made enquiries about Martinez, a direct swap of those two players really would be a viable exchange. It would solve United’s dilemma with Pogba as they see the market value of an unsettled player dropping rapidly due to the crisis.
The only question would be whether Martinez would be willing to come to Old Trafford. Some reports have said that United’s sporting project does not appeal to him and he may prefer to stay at Inter.
But if the swap could be arranged, United could then potentially replace Pogba with Ajax’s Donny van de Beek, valued at £47 million, or Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish, who should be available for a similar amount.
It may be a long shot, but Martinez plus Grealish or Van de Beek for Pogba plus £47 million would represent a fantastic summer’s business for the Red Devils.
United might have to finish their Premier League season at neutral grounds as the authorities try to ensure player safety. How much do you know about those neither-home-nor-away games the Red Devils have played in the past? Take our quiz below to find out.