MANCHESTER UNITED and Real Madrid are ready to steal in and grab £99million Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez – as his on-off transfer to Barcelona continues to be delayed.
Barca are now ready to turn their attention back to £156m Neymar as they fear missing out on Martinez, 22, from the Serie A giants.
The LaLiga champions were “certain” to get him but they have struggled to offload players or swap stars in order to fund the move.
Now they’re stalling and that has given both United and Madrid the chance to try and take advantage.
United missed out on signing Erling Haaland, who went from RB Salzburg to Borussia Dortmund in January.
Although Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men got Odion Ighalo on an extended loan deal they would prefer a young striker with a long-term future as the Norwegian continues his Old Trafford revolution.
Inter are looking for the release clause of £99m – money which United could have if they sell Paul Pogba to Juventus this summer.
Barcelona’s cash crisis means they would not be able to pay the price in full, claim Spanish newspaper Marca.
The Italians will only complete the transfer if they get the full price so boss Antonio Conte can do his business.
Argentina striker Martinez also wants a big pay increase and that could be another stumbling block.
In order to save £134m Nou Camp chiefs have made players defer their wages and freeze salaries so stars would not take kindly to another star coming in on mega-wages.
Real Madrid are in a similar position – which could put United in the box seat.
Barca had also hoped to bring in Juve star Miralem Pjanic but this move has also stalled.
Nou Camp chiefs want a clear out with Arthur Melo, £100m Ousmane Dembele, Neto, Arturo Vidal and Samuel Umtiti all moving on.
That would clear a substantial sum in transfer fees and wages.
But stubborn Inter’s stance on Martinez – who has hit 19 goals in 32 games for the Italians this term – could end Barca’s chase.
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