Barcelona sporting director Eric Abidal has confirmed he is a fan of Inter striker Lautaro Martinez amid media speculation of a transfer.
Report last month in El Mundo Deportivo and Clarin outlined how the striker – who has scored seven goals and two assists in 13 appearances this season – is a target for the Red Devils, following on from a similar report in the Manchester Evening News.
It followed a claim in El Mundo Deportivo that the striker’s release clause, which had originally been reported to stand at €110m – an attainable value for the Spanish champions – is actually €200m.
A report in Calciomercato claimed that the Milan-based striker has been identified by Barcelona as being the long-term replacement for the ageing Luis Suarez, while Diario AS said he was being scouted extensively.
“Yes, he is a complete player,” Abidal said when asked about Martinez, as cited by El Mundo Deportivo.
“I think he is performing at a great level. He is a player we know, there are other players who also have a lot of quality.
“I am transparent with the players and I have told Luis that we are looking at strikers, and he has accepted this because he wants what is best for the team.”
The striker has netted 11 Serie A goals across 39 appearances for the Nerazzurri and four times in 10 appearances in Europe.
He has started 14 matches for Antonio Conte’s side this season while his fellow countryman Mauro Icardi has departed to Paris Saint-Germain, with Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez both joining.
“Talk of Barcelona’s interest is true,” the player’s agent Alberto Yaque told Ole back in July.
“No-one’s called us, but we know that they’ve been looking at him strongly. It’s true that Barcelona like him.”
It has been previously claimed that Martinez’s market value is now in excess of €100m and he scored within two minutes at Camp Nou in their recent Champions League encounter.
Inter are said to be concerned by Barca’s interest and starting negotiations for a new contract that would significantly raise or even remove the clause.
His current deal runs to June 2023 and was signed in July 2018, when Inter paid Racing Club €24m for his services.