Given the current financial situation at Barcelona, it seems odd to say that splashing the cash on yet another player would be the right move, but this time it’s true.
The player in question is Lautaro Martinez. This transfer makes sense in every way, and if the club can afford him, he is the one they should be focusing all their efforts towards signing.
Lautaro is an international team-mate of Barcelona captain Lionel Messi, whose relationship with the club is somewhat frayed at the moment, and has already shown that he has a good understanding with the 33-year-old on the pitch.
In the 2019 Copa America, where Argentina were controversially defeated in the semi-finals by hosts Brazil, Lautaro and Messi enjoyed success linking up in the final third. The 23-year-old clearly respects the Blaugrana legend and wants to play with him at club level.
The feeling is mutual, too, with Messi calling his compatriot spectacular and lavishing the type of praise he does not give to many players. In fact, signing Lautaro would make him a lot happier at the club, and Barca could potentially repair a very delicate situation.
The young forward, currently at Inter Milan, would fit in quite well at the Camp Nou, with his hold-up play, strength, movement, and finishing all important aspects of his game. I have no doubt he would fare a lot better than Antoine Griezmann and Philippe Coutinho have.
He previously had a release clause of north of €100m, but that has expired by now, although Barca never wanted to pay that much anyway, meaning the fee could still go down. The only problem is the club may well not be able to afford him this summer.
Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu, largely at fault for Barcelona’s financial hole, has said that any transfers that occur this summer would have to be dependent on other sales, or as part of swap deals.
This means that unless Coutinho is sold for a similar fee, which is still a large profit loss on the €160m they bought him for, the move is unlikely this summer. Ivan Rakitic, Arturo Vidal, and Nelson Semedo could also be sold, but not for that type of money.
Another who could be shipped out is Ousmane Dembele, who has been very unfortunate with injuries so far in his Barca career, and fans are very split on his future prospects. Personally, I think he could still have a chance at the club, so I’d give him at least one more season to prove he can stay injury-free.
However, if Bartomeu wants to sell him while he still has some sort of market value, this could be the season, and it could also help fund Lautaro’s transfer.
Some are concerned that signing the young Argentine will be problematic for current starting striker Luis Suarez, but that could not be further from the truth. Suarez is a competitor, plain and simple, and would relish the chance to play and compete with such a talented player.
He has even gone as far as to say he would welcome Lautaro at Barcelona, and seeing the two combine with Messi next season could be devastating to opposition defences. There is a reason Lautaro is one of the most highly-touted youngsters in Europe.
When it comes down to it, the question will be just how much Bartomeu wants him. Is he willing to sacrifice Coutinho and/or Dembele, and sell off some rotation players, in order to get this one man? My answer would be yes, but his could well be no.
In purely footballing terms, he makes perfect sense. In preserving Messi’s happiness at the club, he makes perfect sense. Financially, in terms of potential resale value, he makes perfect sense. All in all, he makes perfect sense.
Even with the financial circumstances surrounding Barcelona, there are ways to get this transfer done, though it will require renouncing something.
My message to Bartomeu is this: don’t let your previous mistakes force you into making another one and missing out on a critical player, and do whatever it takes to bring Lautaro to the Camp Nou.