Gerard Pique

Barcelona and Spain Colossus

Cruz hopeful Lautaro Martinez stays at Inter Milan and rejects Barcelona

Former Inter Milan forward Julio Cruz is hopeful that Lautaro Martinez will snub advances from Barcelona and stay put with the Nerazzurri. The 22-year-old is currently in his second campaign with the San Siro outfit and he has made a key impression with 17 goals and four assists across all competitions.

As a result, he has emerged as the prime summer target for the Blaugrana, who have been tracking him for the past few years and reports have emerged that the Nerazzurri may eventually sanction the player’s sale. Speaking to Calciomercato, Cruz talked about the importance of Martinez for his former club and believes he is the ideal strike partner for Romelu Lukaku.

He added that he would be disappointed if the Nerazzurri are unable to keep hold of the marksman beyond the summer transfer window, he told: “If he were to leave it would be his choice but to date, I haven’t seen another player who can support Lukaku like him because he’s really a great player. I believe and hope Lautaro won’t go [to Barcelona], I hope so because he’s a great player and he’s proving it. I would be disappointed if he went somewhere else and Inter are a great club and they are able to keep him.”

The Nerazzurri are currently demanding the Blaugrana to meet the striker’s £102m release clause and that could be out of question with the financial impact due to the coronavirus pandemic. As such, the Spanish champions are looking to discuss a part-exchange deal and they could be prepared to offer the likes of Arturo Vidal and Rafinha to reduce the valuation of the transfer.

Inter boss Antonio Conte is understood to be keen on a reunion with Vidal, having previously worked together at Juventus. Rafinha, on the other hand, was impressive on loan with the club during the 2017/18 season despite the injury setbacks. He bagged two goals and three assists from just 12 league starts.

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