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Italian media says Atlético want João Félix-Lautaro Martínez partnership for 2022/23

Lautaro links!

FC Internazionale v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A Photo by Sportinfoto/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Diego Simeone and Atlético Madrid are longtime admirers of Inter Milan forward Lautaro Martínez. According to two new reports in the Italian media, the upcoming summer window could be Atlético’s next great chance to acquire the Argentine.

La Gazzetta dello Sport claims that while Lautaro agreed to a new contract through 2026 earlier this season, continued financial concerns surrounding Inter might lead to more player sales in the next transfer window. The reigning Serie A champions are believed to be involved in the Paulo Dybala sweepstakes as well, and they likely cannot afford both Lautaro and free agent Dybala’s wages (which are sure to be hefty).

Echoing a report in La Repubblica from earlier this week, La Gazzetta says Simeone wants to bring his compatriot Lautaro to the Spanish capital to form a three-pronged attack alongside Ángel Correa and João Félix. However, the price will be steep. La Repubblica claims Inter have attached a €60 million fee to its star forward, a price Atlético are unlikely to pay, especially without sales coming from the Metropolitano.

Atletico Madrid v FC Internazionale - International Champions Cup 2018
Lautaro Martínez in action during the International Champions Cup 2018 match between Atlético Madrid and FC Internazionale at Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on August 11, 2018.
Photo by Claudio Villa - Inter/FC Internazionale via Getty Images

Atlético have sniffed around Lautaro for years, even going so far as to schedule a medical for him in 2017 before negotiations with his hometown Racing Club hit a snag. He joined Inter the following year. Atleti also apparently tried to sign him last summer before shifting focus to Dušan Vlahović (now at Juventus) and ultimately bringing in Matheus Cunha from Hertha Berlin.

Splashing the cash on a forward like Lautaro this summer would be a curious decision when holes in midfield and in defense need to be plugged. It would also call into question Antoine Griezmann’s future, with the Frenchman’s loan from FC Barcelona slated to run through the 2022/23 season. The loan becomes a €40 million obligation to buy if Griezmann plays half of Atlético’s games next season, and the 31-year-old has little if any desire to return to Camp Nou.

Still, if Atleti do make that decision, the Colchoneros could do worse than Lautaro to step in for Griezmann or for out-of-contract Luis Suárez. The 24-year-old has 14 goals in Serie A this season, his third consecutive campaign with at least that many. He has developed a reputation as a bullish, hard-working forward — hence his nickname, “El Toro.”