Marotta: Inter will sign a top player if Lautaro leaves

Inter chief executive Giuseppe Marotta hopes Barcelona do not pay Lautaro Martinez's release clause but vowed to replace the forward with a star if he leaves.

Lautaro has been heavily linked with a move to the La Liga giants, with Inter reportedly insisting the Argentina international's buy-out clause of €111 million (£99m/$125m) will need to be paid.

Marotta again reiterated the Serie A side had no interest in selling Lautaro, but said a new talisman would be signed if the 22-year-old does end up moving on to pastures new.

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"It is difficult to pronounce on his future at this moment, but I say to him – stay focused on the present, there is a season that resumes, there are goals to hit," the Inter CEO told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"There is no desire of the property to sell Lautaro. He is young, has the future of his own and is a functional element for [Antonio] Conte. Then, of course, there is a clause.

"I don't know what Barcelona think, maybe they will also have alternatives. I hope they don't pay the clause. If Lautaro [leaves], a top player will arrive.

"But in this market, at European level the real difficulty will not be having to buy, but being able to sell. I would say one thing in general – Neymar-style operations, in which one team goes and takes one player away from another, will not be seen for many years."

Inter have been tipped to move for Edinson Cavani, whose current contract with Paris Saint-Germain expires at the end of the season.

But Marotta said a deal for Cavani, who has scored seven goals in 22 games this season, was still some way off.

"It is one of the opportunities, it is being monitored as an expiring footballer," he said.

"But we did not go into the matter further: at the moment he is quite far from Inter."

Antonio Conte is currently preparing his Inter squad for their first fixture in three months, with a trip to Napoli in the second leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final scheduled for June 13.

The Nerazzurri lost the first leg 1-0 shortly before the season was postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak in March, and the reverse will be played behind closed doors at Stadio San Paolo.

Inter will resume their latest Serie A campaign eight days later as they play host to Sampdoria at an empty San Siro, where nothing less than a win will do as they look to close the gap on leaders Juventus.

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