BARCELONA

Barcelona and Messi want Lautaro but face competition from Real Madrid

According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Lionel Messi could play a key role should Barcelona face a battle with Real Madrid to sign Inter Milan's Lautaro Martinez.

Barcelona and Messi want Lautaro but face competition from Real Madrid
MAURO PIMENTEL AFP

Lionel Messi has chosen who he wants as his new strike partner and it is player he already knows well from the Argentina setup.

As reported by Italian daily Gazzetta dello Sport, Barcelona will go all out this summer for Inter Milan forward Lautaro Martínez. However, the Catalan club are not the only interested party. Real Madrid will also fight to stop Lautaro pairing up with Messi at Barcelona, and see the 22-year-old as a suitable candidate to strengthen their options at number ‘9’, where they currently have Karim Benzema, Luka Jovic and Mariano Diaz.

By their part, Inter Milan have no intention of selling Lautaro but know they may not be able to keep him much longer should Barcelona and Madrid come knocking. His contract with the Serie A club, which has his release clause set at 111 million euros, expires in June, 2023; while his current salary of 1.5 million euros a year seems quite low in relation to his performance (16 goals this season) and potential.

Lautaro Martinez in action against Juventus.

Inter want Aubameyang as Lautaro replacement

Meanwhile, Gazzetta dello Sport also claims that Inter have already designated Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as the ideal candidate to replace Lautaro should the young centre-forward leave, with the Arsenal striker the preferred choice of Nerazzurri boss, Antonio Conte.

The Gabon centre forward, who has so far netted 20 goals in 32 games with the Gunners this season, sees his current deal at the Emirates expire in June, 2021 – meaning Arsenal could be willing to let him go at a fair price this season so as not risk losing him on a free next summer, - that is if both parties fail to agree on a contract extension.

There are reports that Arsenal may let the 30-year-old marksman go for the less than the 70 million euros at which he is currently valued by specialist website Transfermarkt.com.