BARCELONA have made their first move towards signing Inter Milan star Lautaro Martinez amid competition from Manchester United.
The Serie A side paid just £20million when bringing the forward over from Argentina 18 months ago and he is now worth almost five times that.
Forming a deadly partnership with Romelu Lukaku, 22-year-old Martinez has hit 13 goals this season with five coming in the Champions League.
A memorable strike at the Camp Nou impressed Barcelona and newspaper Sport report of discussions between the clubs ahead of their meeting tonight.
Sporting director Eric Abidal enquired about the player’s contractual situation and was pointed towards a £93.4million release clause that Inter won’t budge from.
The Catalans, who also discussed Italian international midfielder Stefano Sensi with Inter officials, at least want first refusal on any Martinez deal.
Premier League giants United have also been linked with the Argentine since he began to hit headlines.
Fresh reinforcements are necessary to capitalise on the recent spurt of good results achieved at Old Trafford with Mario Mandzukic touted as a January arrival.
But they will face a determined Barcelona in the transfer window with Ernesto Valverde seeking a long-term replacement for Luis Suarez, 33.
The Barcelona coach has already spoken publicly of Martinez’s talents, describing him as a “born goalscorer”.
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He told reporters: ”He is a great player and he’s having a great season. He is quick and strong.
“He scored a great goal in the first game at the Camp Nou. I know he is comfortable with Lukaku, they’ve found the right partnership to help Inter.
“As for Lautaro being similar to Luis Suarez, they are a little different but both are born goalscorers.”
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