Inter CEO Insists Lautaro Martínez Will Only Be Allowed to Join Barcelona if He Asks to Leave

?Inter executive Giuseppe Marotta has insisted forward Lautaro Martínez will only be allowed to join Barcelona if he specifically asks to do so.

Finding a new striker is one of Barcelona’s top priorities and Martínez is believed to be near the top of their wish list. The 22-year-old, who has managed 16 goals and four assists in all competitions this season, will have a €111m release clause in his contract become active in the summer.

Lautaro Martinez

?Barcelona are rumoured to be readying a summer bid for Martínez, but Marotta told ?Sky Sport Italia that ?Inter do not feel as though they need to fold under pressure from any of Europe’s biggest sides.

“Lautaro is growing, he is a very young boy,” he said. “I think he is above all interested in wearing this glorious shirt and growing from a professional point of view.

“Let’s not forget that because of its history, Inter does not envy any other teams, so as I always say, the players will be sold only and exclusively when they themselves indicate that is what they want.”

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With Inter determined to hold on to their starlet, Barcelona may be forced to look elsewhere. According to ?Sport, La Blaugrana remain desperate to sign Martínez, but they are not prepared to go crazy in their attempts to get their man.

Barcelona believe that his €111m release clause, which will be active only for two weeks in July, is too high and does not reflect the direction in which they want to move – especially since they are considering other strikers who are available for far cheaper.

Sport suggest that Barcelona could try to explore sending other players to Inter in exchange. Midfielders ?Arturo Vidal and ?Ivan Rakiti? have both been linked with moves to Italy, so Barcelona could look to capitalise on that and try save themselves some money in their pursuit of Martínez.

Arturo Vidal,Ivan Rakitic

?Tuttosport even claim that Antoine Griezmann has been identified as a potential replacement for Martínez at San Siro, but that’s almost certainly not happening as Barcelona are already light on numbers in attack.

With a deal for Martínez potentially looking tricky, Barcelona are considering a number of other strikers. A source has confirmed to 90min that ?Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is in their sights, and any deal for the Gabon international would certainly be far cheaper.


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Lazio 2-1 Inter: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Hosts Edge Enthralling Contest in Title Race

?Lazio edged Inter 2-1 on Sunday night as they leapfrogged the Nerazzuri in the Serie A table to leave them just two points off Juventus at the summit.

In what was an intriguing tactical battle of two 3-5-2 formations, it was the hosts who went the closest to opening the scoring early on in proceedings as Sergej Milinkovic-Savic’s fierce drive from distance rattled Daniele Padelli’s crossbar.

Antonio Conte’s side were certainly the brighter in the first half, and after failing to make the most of some promising attacking transitions, they were finally able to execute late on in the opening period. After Jony’s cross was picked off by Ashley Young on the edge of the Inter box, Inter countered to great effect – with Young finishing on the half-volley after Thomas Strakosha had parried Antonio Candreva’s effort into danger.

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The hosts responded swiftly after the restart though, as Ciro Immobile scored his 26th Serie A goal of the season from the penalty spot after he was brought down inside the area by Stefan de Vrij.

Both sides defended resolutely after Immobile’s leveller, with chances coming few and far between, before a bit of magic by Milinkovic-Savic helped the Biancocelesti take the lead – the Serb doing brilliantly to work a bit of space inside the Inter box before squeezing his left-footed effort past Padelli.

Much to Simone Inzaghi’s displeasure, an entertaining, end-to-end contest played out with glorious chances coming at both ends.

Lautaro Martinez thought he’d grabbed a late equaliser after he’d nodded in Young’s unselfish cross, but the Argentine was rightly adjudged to have been offside before Immobile had his one-on-one effort well-saved by Padelli – the Italian goal machine beating both Diego Godin and De Vrij with a first touch sent from the Gods.

The visitors continued to press right up until the final whistle but were unable to find the all-important equaliser, sparking scenes off jubilation in the Stadio Olimpico.


LAZIO

Key Talking Point

What a turnaround by Simone Inzaghi’s men, eh?

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After a rather underwhelming first-half display, the hosts came out like a different beast in the second period. A newfound intensity out of possession didn’t allow the Nerazzurri back three to settle on the ball and they were quickly on level terms after their drastic improvement.

And although it wasn’t a trademark attacking display by the Biancocelesti – with Inter doing well to nullify chief creator Luis Alberto – they did just about enough to edge this one. Inzaghi will know though, that he has the immense defensive work of Francesco Acerbi to thank for his side claiming a vital three points.

Some title race, this.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Strakosha (6); Felipe (7), Acerbi (9), Radu (7); Marusic (6), Milinkovic-Savic (9*), Lucas (7), Alberto (6), Jony (6); Caicedo (5), Immobile (7)

Subs: Correa (6), Lazzari (7), Cataldi (6)


Sergej Milinkovic-Savic

The Serbia international’s wicked effort that struck the woodwork in the opening ten minutes set the tone for a wonderful display.

While as cool as ever in possession, it was Milinkovic-Savic’s physical presence that caused the Nerazzurri backline so many issues on Sunday night. His movement out of possession, meanwhile, was superb, initially starting a little deeper to find space before persistently exploiting the space between Inter’s left-sided centre-back and wing-back.

The 24-year-old’s expertly taken finish to give his side a massive three points was just the icing on what was a complete performance and based on his recent form, there’s little doubt he’ll have Europe’s elite at his feet come summertime.


INTER

Key Talking Point

After the highs of the derby victory last weekend, Conte’s side were quickly brought down to Earth – first losing at home to Napoli in the Coppa Italia in the week before tonight’s defeat. Once more the Nerazzurri failed to put in a complete display as they succumbed to a Lazio comeback in the second period. 

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Overall, it wasn’t the worst performance by the visitors; they remained compact until the hosts took the lead, Immobile’s impact was limited in open play, while they were able to transition from defence to attack with relative ease. They certainly created enough to get a point from the Stadio Olimpico. 

In the end, however, a soft penalty decision and their inability to clear a corner was ultimately Inter’s undoing on Sunday night and now they’re three points off Juventus at the top, with the momentum from the Milan Derby victory swiftly evaporating.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Padelli (5); Godin (6), De Vrij (6), Skriniar (7); Candreva (7), Vecino (7), Brozovic (7), Barella (5), Young (7*); Lautaro (5), Lukaku (7)Subs: Moses (6), Eriksen (6), Sanchez (5)


Ashley Young

The former United man has enjoyed a bright start in Italy but this was undoubtedly his finest display. With Milinkovic-Savic often occupying the right half-space, Young had a mightily difficult task and with Adam Marusic providing width, Young’s defensive capabilities were certainly put to the test. The Englishman passing with flying colours, however. 

Ashley Young,Lautaro Martinez

Going forward he proved a threat as well, kickstarting the attacking transition that led to his opener in the first half – a finish that certainly looked like he was still playing on the left-wing for Sir Alex Ferguson in 2012.


Looking Ahead

Lazio travel to relegation-battlers Genoa next Sunday while Inter take on Ludogorets in the first leg of their Europa League round of 32 tie on Thursday evening. 

The Nerazzurri then host Sampdoria in Serie A on Sunday night.


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Lazio & Inter Are on the Cusp of Glory – But Only One Can End Juventus’ Title Monopoly

On September 25, Lazio lost their second game in the opening five league matches, falling to a 1-0 defeat to a new-look Inter side.

It would prove to be their final league defeat of the calendar year. Almost five months on, Le Aquile have risen to within a point of Inter, and on Sunday evening, they go toe-to-toe with I Nerazzurri in a top-of-the-table six-pointer. But how did we get here? 

It’s been somewhat of a Scudetto monopoly in Italy over the past eight years, with top dogs Juventus hoovering up title after title. But finally, a new challenger has entered the ring. Well – make that two. 

Cristiano Ronaldo

Almost a decade has passed since Inter last climbed to the Serie A summit under the Special One, but since then the Italian giants have rarely threatened powerhouses Juve for success. But I Nerazzurri went all out in the summer to rectify this drought, and the arrival of serial winner Antonio Conte has brought a new mental strength to the Milan side.

After a lightning start – and a winter wobble – ?Inter are back on song, and having invested heavily once again in the January transfer window, Conte’s side looks far more balanced across the pitch.

The team possesses bags of goals in ?Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez, and the winter signing of ?Christian Eriksen will provide the spark needed to eke out wins in the tighter matches. At the back, Stefan de Vrij, Milan Skriniar and Alessandro Bastoni form a fierce barrier in front of the brick wall Samir Handanovic.

Title-winning stuff. 

But if Conte’s warriors want to do battle with the Old Lady for that top spot, they’ll have to get past the true underdogs of the title race first. 

Across in the Italian capital, something special is on the brink of eruption. 

Breaking clear of the chasing pack and firmly solidifying their place in the final sprint to success, SS Lazio have emerged from the fog as genuine title contenders. Simone Inzaghi’s men have gone on an incredible 17-game unbeaten run, and now find themselves only a point behind joint-leaders Inter and Juve. 

SS Lazio v SPAL - Serie A

Le Aquile are a fun and exciting team to watch, with Luis Alberto and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic feeding Serie A’s irrepressible top-scorer Ciro Immobile, who has notched an unbelievable 25 goals in 23 matches.

If Inter’s decade dry spell has been tough on supporters, spare a thought for the Lazio faithful, who will be celebrating 20 years without title success at the end of this season. Or will they? 

Lazio host Inter on Sunday night in what may prove to be a straight shootout for a swing at the king of Italy, Juventus, in this title race. Victory for the in-form Rome club would see them leapfrog their opponents for a place in the top two, and depending on I Bianconeri’s result against Brescia, Inzaghi’s side could be top of the league by the end of the evening. 

But while this Lazio team is full of attacking vibrancy and a relentless energy, there still remains an air of naivety and inexperience at the highest level throughout the squad. A title race is a gruelling pressure-cooker, waiting to explode at any given moment.

And no one knows this better than Conte.

Antonio Conte

Although Inter have been known to stumble and crumble at the final hurdle in recent years, their new boss, quite simply, has not. The ?ex-Chelsea man was brought in to provide a new steel both on and off the field, and this has never been more evident than in their derby triumph. 

Trailing 2-0 at half-time to bitter rivals ?Milan, I Nerazzurri’s title hopes were hanging in the balance. But an inspired team talk from their coach injected some vim and vigour into the mis-firing stars, and Inter ran out 4-2 winners in one of the games of the season. 

Their reward? A trip to the most in-form team in Italy. Inter have fond memories of facing Lazio at Stadio Olimpico, most notably in May 2018, when the pair faced off in a winner-takes-all clash for a spot in the Champions League. 

Inter snatched a dramatic 3-2 win on the final day of the season, coming from behind as Lazio had two men sent off and imploded before a stunned home crowd.

It was proof of just how far Le Aquile had come, but how much further they had to go to consider themselves on a par with the league’s elite. Less than two years later, and Inzaghi and co face another trial by fire. 

Only the potential prize on offer is much grander this time round, and the stakes are unequivocally higher.

Simone Inzaghi,Marco Parolo

Victory for Inter would help them retain top spot for another week, and – more importantly – open up a four-point gap over Sunday’s hosts. It wouldn’t be the end of the race for Lazio, but it would be a serious psychological blow to a team running on momentum.

For the victor, the minor matter of the big bad boss awaits. And both teams are ready for that final hurdle. ?Juve may finish the weekend on top, but Maurizio Sarri’s side is in for one hell of a bumpy ride. 

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Chelsea & Everton Set for Summer Battle Over Inter Star Matias Vecino

?Chelsea and Everton are both keeping tabs on Inter midfielder Matias Vecino, and the two Premier League clubs are preparing to do battle over the Uruguayan’s signature in the summer. 

The 28-year-old has been a prominent figure for I Nerazzurri this season, featuring 16 times in the league for Antonio Conte’s side, and he even scored a crucial goal in their recent victory in the Milan derby. 

Matias Vecino

But despite his vital contributions for the title contenders this campaign, ?Calcio Mercato reports that Vecino will be available in the summer – and the Italian giants would prefer to strike a deal outside of Serie A – with Chelsea and Everton leading the race to land the midfielder. 

Vecino arrived at San Siro from Fiorentina in 2017 in a deal worth €24m. The Uruguay international’s contract expires in the summer of 2022, meaning that his value will continue to drop as the transfer windows tick by. Chelsea and Everton aren’t alone in their interest with ?Napoli also keen on a deal, and Inter are desperate to sell him in the summer – while hoping to recoup the majority of the sum they paid almost three years ago. 

?I Nerazurri are willing to consider offers in the region of €25m this summer, and the Italian giants would prefer to sell Vecino to a Premier League side, rather than strengthening one of their direct rivals. 

Matias Vecino

This weakens Napoli’s position in negotiating a deal for the ex-Fiorentina star, and puts Chelsea and ?Everton in pole position to sign the dynamic midfielder. ?The Blues are keen to improve their central options in the summer – they’ve already strengthened elsewhere in the squad with the signing of Hakim Ziyech.

Inter are keen to get the midfielder off their books as soon as possible, as they are eyeing a move for Barcelona star ?Arturo Vidal. Conte is a huge admirer of the Chile international, and the pair have previously worked together at Italian champions ?Juventus. 

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Lazio vs Inter Preview: Where to Watch, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News

Serie A leaders ?Inter face a trip to Rome on Sunday to take on third-placed Lazio as they continue their bid to capture a first league title since the 2009/10 season.

After a fourth place finish last term, a revived Inter side – now managed by Antonio Conte –  currently sit at the top of the league, level on points with champions Juventus.

£75m summer signing ?Romelu Lukaku has played a key part in their success, bagging 17 goals in 21 Serie A appearances since making the switch from Manchester United, thriving up front alongside Lautaro Martinez.

Lautaro Martinez,Romelu Lukaku

In Lazio, they face a side very much in the title race. Unbeaten in 18 home games so far this season, I Biancocelesti sit third on 53 points, just one point off Inter and ?Juventus. 

With both sides unbeaten in their previous five games, the stakes are high for their clash on Sunday, and with second-placed Juventus struggling for consistency, the order of the top three could look significantly different come Monday morning.


Where to Watch

?When Is Kick Off? Sunday 16 February?
?What Time Is Kick Off? ?19:45 (GMT)
?Where Is it Played? ?Stadio Olimpico
?TV Channel/Live Stream? ?Premier Sports 1/Premier Player HD
?Referee? ?Gianluca Rocchi

Team News

Inter captain Samir Handanovi? remains a doubt with a hairline fracture in his finger. He was only fit enough for a place on the bench in their Coppa Italia defeat to ?Napoli on Wednesday, so Daniele Padelli may continue in goal.

Midfielder Roberto Gagliardini is also expected to miss out due to an ongoing foot injury.

Samir Handanovic

As for Lazio, captain Senad Luli? is set to miss out with an ankle injury. Other than that, Simone Inzaghi has a fully fit squad to choose from, including Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Ciro Immobile, both of whom have impressed thoroughly this season.


Predicted Lineups

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?Lazio ?Strakosha; Felipe, Acerbi, Radu; Lazzari, Milinkovic-Savic, Lucas, Alberto, Jony; Caicedo, Immobile.
?Inter Padelli; Skriniar, De Vrij, Bastoni;? Candreva, Barella, Brozovic, Eriksen, Young; Lukaku, Martinez.

Head to Head Record

Lega Calcio Serie A TIM"FC Internazionale v SS Lazio"

In 2019, the sides met three times, all in Milan; firstly, Lazio knocked Inter out of the Coppa Italia in January last year on penalties after a 1-1 draw. 

They met again in March, with Lazio earning a 1-0 victory away from home in Serie A thanks to an early goal from Milinkovic-Savic. 

The final and most recent clash was a 1-0 victory for Inter earlier this season, when Danilo D’Ambrosio struck the only goal of the contest


Recent Form

Both sides head into the match in terrific league form. Lazio are unbeaten at home in their past 18 games, meanwhile Inter are unbeaten in 16.

The home side stormed to a 5-1 victory over last-placed SPAL at the start of the month, with Serie A’s current top scorer Immobile scoring another brace to take his impressive tally to 25 league goals this season.

SS Lazio v SPAL - Serie A

Inter managed to put four past rivals Milan in a 4-2 victory last week, but they slumped to a 1-0 defeat in the cup to Napoli this week.


Prediction

Both teams have been very impressive so far this season and are the second and third top goalscorers in the league, behind only Atalanta. 

Lazio have been impressive and didn’t have to play a midweek fixture in a cup competition, but Inter’s firepower and tactical defensive nous could prove too much for Sunday’s hosts.

Christian Eriksen

It may well be a case of which strike force can outperform the other, and while Immobile has been ridiculously hot this season, Lukaku and Martinez may be sharp enough to earn I Nerazzurri victory.

Prediction: Lazio 2-3 Inter

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