Inter CEO Giuseppe Marotta has admitted that Barcelona are interested in attacker Lautaro Martinez but says that he is “optimistic” that the Argentina international will not depart the club this summer.
The Catalan side have been closely linked with a summer move for the 22-year-old, with Lionel Messi reportedly driving on their bid, but negotiations thus far have not proven fruitful.
From the Italian side’s perspective, though, this is a positive as they do not wish to see a player who has scored 12 times in 22 Serie A outings leave.
Marotta believes that there is still reason to believe that the former Racing star will be at the club next term.
"It is known that he is the object of market attention,” he told Sky Sport Italia of a player who arrived at the club in the summer of 2018. “He started well, he is young and he has great qualities.
“Inter is a club that does not tend to sell its best players. If he does not show his willingness to leave, we will keep him close.
“He is flattered by the attention of big clubs. On our part, there is the desire to keep him and he has never actually expressed the desire to leave. I am optimistic that we can continue with him again next year.”
“If Lautaro [leaves], a top player will arrive,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport at the beginning of June, when he downplayed a suggestion that Edinson Cavani could join the club following his release from Paris Saint-Germain.
"He is one of the players being monitored," he said. “But we did not go into the matter further: at the moment he is quite far from Inter.”
Inter have had a positive season in Serie A this season in as far as they are firmly established in the top three of the standings.
As they return after a three-month absence because of the coronavirus pandemic, however, they trail league leaders Juventus by nine points ahead of their Sunday match against Sampdoria.
They retain an interest in the Europa League, which will be completed in Germany in August, having already defeated Ludogorets in the last 32.