'Barcelona are always interested in great players' - Setien on Lautaro Martinez & possible Messi link-up


Barcelona head coach Quique Setien has spoken in glowing terms about Inter forward Lautaro Martinez and says that lining up alongside Lionel Messi was a "huge incentive" for players.

As reported by Goal, Barca are ready to offer a €10 million (£9m/$11m)-a-year contract to the Argentine who, along with Neymar, is at the top of their summer transfer wish list.

Despite only making a limited impact in his debut season with Inter, playing understudy to former club captain Mauro Icardi, the arrival of Antonio Conte has helped transform Lautaro, who is now seen as one of Europe's top strikers.

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The 22-year-old's form has also pushed him into the Argentina set-up alongside Messi and, having scored nine international goals in just 17 appearances, he is top scorer under Lionel Scaloni.

Setien has previously looked to play down rumours linking the former Racing Club striker with a move to Camp Nou, claiming that the coronavirus pandemic is going to make transfer moves "complicated" for many clubs.

But in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, the Barca head coach claimed Lautaro is a "great player" and that playing alongside Messi offers a significant incentive for the forward.

"He is an important player, a great player, and Barcelona are always interested in great players, of course," Setien said. 

"But in these times without football, a different name comes out every day. For many players the opportunity to be able to play with Messi represents a huge incentive."

Lautaro had scored 16 goals in 31 games for Inter before the 2019-20 season was suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak.

He struck up a fine partnership alongside Romelu Lukaku, while also shining at international level in tandem with Messi. 

Not everybody, however, is convinced a move to Barcelona is the right call. 

"If I were him, I would stay at Inter, because at Barca he would be a substitute," Fabio Capello said in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport.

It remains to be seen if Lautaro has potentially played his last game for Inter, with there being uncertainty over whether the 2019-20 season will be able to resume in many leagues across Europe.

The Dutch Eredivisie and Ligue 1 have both had the remainder of their campaigns cancelled, and Italy's sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora believes Serie A clubs should be "thinking about next season" in regards to their situation.

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