Barcelona: Koeman on Messi's future after defeat
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Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman is at odds with the club’s board over the potential signing of Lautaro Martinez, according to reports. The Inter Milan star is wanted as an alternative to Erling Haaland ahead of the summer transfer window. The Catalan giants want to sign a new centre-forward this summer, having failed to replace Luis Suarez so far.
Barcelona have held talks over signing Haaland, who is their top transfer target at the current moment in time.
The Borussia Dortmund star has been in sensational form this season, scoring 31 goals in the Bundesliga and Champions League combined.
And Barcelona see the Norway international as the ideal replacement for Suarez, who was allowed to join Atletico Madrid back in the summer.
On Thursday, they talked with Mino Raiola about a potential deal for his client.
They assured the super-agent they’d offer Haaland a path to superstardom, a guarantee he’d challenge for the biggest trophies on offer.
But, behind the scenes, they’re looking at alternatives in case they miss out on the player – who is also wanted by Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Real Madrid.
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Sport say Martinez is back on their radar, with the Argentina international previously wanted during Ernesto Valverde’s reign in charge.
Yet it’s claimed there’s no agreement between Koeman and the Barcelona board, with the Dutchman at odds with the possible signing of the Inter Milan star.
It’s said the former Everton and Southampton manager harbours doubts over Martinez’s suitability to his current project.
But Barcelona could yet press ahead with a potential deal regardless, especially given how Inter could be forced into selling because of the coronavirus crisis.
Martinez has been in fine form in Serie A this season, scoring 14 goals and registering five assists from 27 domestic matches.
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And he’s scored twice and clocked up one assist from four World Cup qualifying matches for Argentina this term.
Martinez has also been linked with a move to Manchester City, with Pep Guardiola on the lookout for a long-term Sergio Aguero replacement.
And he’s been tipped to join Manchester United, too, especially if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side miss out on a deal for Haaland this summer.
Meanwhile, speaking recently, Koeman attempted to downplay talk of a deal for Haaland.
“Haaland? This is not a time to talk about a player who is not ours out of respect for his club,” the Barca boss told a press conference.
“There is talk of signings but I don’t like it and I need to focus on tomorrow’s game and the players we have.
“We’ll talk in the next few weeks on where we can improve but I will not respond to players who are not ours.”
Former Dortmund star Matthias Sammer has urged Haaland against leaving Dortmund too early, citing Ousmane Dembele’s move to Barcelona back in the summer transfer window of 2017.
The France international moved to Catalonia as a replacement for Neymar four years ago and has never lived up to expectations at the club.
And he said: “I would recommend for Erling to also see the value of Borussia Dortmund.
“The club has given him a lot. From here, he can only go to a handful of clubs. When Erling makes the next step, he must be the finished product, perfect. He is very, very good.
“He must improve some details. Robert [Lewandowski] was complete when he left for Bayern [Munich on a free transfer in 2014]. It was clear: He went straight into the starting line-up.
“But as a counter-example, Ousmane Dembele maybe left for Barcelona a moment too early. Erling is far in his development, but he is not complete.”
Haaland and Martinez aren’t the only players on Barcelona’s radar this summer.
They also want to land Dutch duo Memphis Depay and Georginio Wijnaldum, of Lyon and Liverpool respectively.
And they’d love to recruit Manchester City centre-back Eric Garcia, whose time at the Etihad Stadium appears to be winding down.
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