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Top Barcelona transfer target sees big-money release clause expire as swap deal touted

Amid ongoing speculation linking Barcelona with a move for him this summer, Lautaro Martinez’s €111m release clause in his Inter contract has now expired, as per reports.

The 22-year-old has enjoyed an impressive season thus far as he’s bagged 17 goals and five assists in 37 appearances for the Nerazzurri, while he has shown his class alongside Lionel Messi for Argentina too with nine goals in 17 caps.

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Things have dried up since the restart though as he’s managed just one goal and one assist in five Serie A games, with Antonio Conte’s men falling further adrift in the Scudetto battle.

Whether or not speculation over his future has had an impact on his form is up for debate, but club chief Beppe Marotta hinted that it has been a factor this week, as noted by Football Italia.

Unfortunately for Inter, it doesn’t appear as though the rumours are going anywhere either as Sport now report that Martinez’s €111m release clause has now expired as of midnight on July 7, and it’s suggested that the reigning La Liga champions are ‘optimistic’ about doing a deal before August 2, when the season ends.

It remains to be seen if it’s a positive or negative thing that the release clause is taken out of the equation, as while Sport add that the Argentine international has an agreement with Barcelona on personal terms, time will tell if it will now be a straight-forward negotiation for the Catalan giants to reach an agreement on a transfer fee with Inter, which is ultimately the first major obstacle to any deal.

Sport note that Junior Firpo could be included in a swap deal offer to try and bring that figure down, but it seems as though there is still plenty to do in order for Martinez to become a Barcelona player this summer.

With Luis Suarez turning 34 in January and a lack of quality and proven depth behind him though, coupled with the characteristics and attributes of Martinez which could arguably make him an ideal successor up top for the Uruguayan stalwart with his energy and work ethic off the ball as well as his goal threat, it would certainly be a big move for Barca as they eye a long-term solution in that department.

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