With the coronavirus bringing football across the world to a screeching halt, all clubs are facing a financial crunch with all revenue streams being affected. Such a situation would open the transfer market to new possibilities in the summer, increasing the likelihood of player swaps, loan deals while free agents are also likely to be in heavy demand.
One such swap deal doing the rounds in the rumour mill of late is that of Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez and Barcelona’s Antoine Griezmann.
Having struggled with a lack of depth in the centre-forward department, Barcelona are intent on signing a new striker this summer. And Lautaro Martinez has emerged as their top target. Inter Milan, meanwhile, are adamant that Barcelona pay the Argentine’s release clause of €111 million. But a lack of funds is proving to be a stumbling block in the deal.
Given the situation, a swap deal between Martinez and Griezmann could prove to be a win-win situation for everyone.
Griezmann joined Barcelona last summer in a mega-money deal from Atletico Madrid. But the 2018 FIFA World Cup winner has struggled to make the desired impact at Camp Nou. There is a sense that the Frenchman hasn’t been able to get in sync with his teammates, which has been apparent on the field on numerous occasions.
Till date, Griezmann has managed just eight goals in 26 La Liga appearances, while chipping in with four assists. He has six more strikes from the Copa del Rey, Spanish Super Cup and the UEFA Champions League combined, taking his tally to 14 in 37 matches.
Martinez joined Inter Milan in the summer of 2018 from Argentine outfit Racing. He had a decent debut season in Italy, bagging nine goals in 35 matches. But the 22-year-old has stepped it up a notch this season.
In contrast to Griezmann’s form, Martinez has been a key element of Antonio Conte’s Inter Milan side this season. The 22-year-old Argentine has netted eleven goals in 22 Serie A matches, forming a deadly partnership with summer signing Romelu Lukaku. In addition, he has bagged five more goals in six Champions League matches as well.
Why Barcelona would benefit from the swap
Luis Suarez is entering the final years of his career. The Uruguayan has shown signs of age catching up over the past couple of seasons and has had to battle serious injuries as well. So, Barcelona are in need of a centre-forward to replace the seasoned campaigner and take over the mantle of being the spearhead of the attack alongside Lionel Messi.
To that end, Martinez makes total sense for the Catalans. At 22, he is still young and would be a long-term solution for the Catalans. Martinez, in many ways, plays similarly to how Luis Suarez operates. A deadly finisher, the former Racing star has speed, is sharp and intelligent in his movement and is capable of executing a neat link-up play in the final third.
Moreover, having played with Messi at the international level, the Argentine already has some sort of understanding with the Barcelona captain, something that has clearly lacked in Griezmann’s partnership with him.
In the process, they would be offloading a player who has failed to fit into the side and won’t have to spend a large sum of money on recruiting a striker.
What Inter Milan would gain from the transfer
A lot of Griezmann’s issues at Barcelona have stemmed from the fact that he has largely been used on the left flank. While he used to play in such a role in the past at Real Sociedad, the 29-year-old has played some of his best football playing in a central role in recent years.
At Barcelona, Griezmann has averaged a goal every 226 minutes when playing on the left flank across all competitions (eight in 23 games). In comparison, the Frenchman has scored a goal every 177 minutes playing through the middle (six in 13 matches), showing the stark difference in his effectiveness when playing centrally.
At Inter, the 29-year-old will be deployed through the middle, playing off of Romelu Lukaku. And Griezmann has already displayed that he thrives while playing with a strong, physical striker upfront – with Diego Costa at Atletico Madrid and with Olivier Giroud for the France national team.
Inter Milan, then, will be adding a world-class goalscorer and a World Cup winner to their ranks, who is in his prime years and would fit seamlessly into the scheme of things under Antonio Conte. This should enable them to take a step further in their attempt to knock Juventus off their perch in Italy.
Griezmann’s wages could pose a problem to Inter Milan, but given that he will be getting a chance to start afresh, the two parties can work out an arrangement.
Another potential stumbling block could be that Inter will be trading a player seven years younger to the one they will be getting in the deal. Once again, that can be worked out by Barcelona converting the transfer from just a direct swap to a player-plus-cash deal.
There are likely to be an issue or two when it comes to working out the logistics of the deal, but a swap of Lautaro Martinez and Antoine Griezmann between Inter Milan and Barcelona will benefit all parties involved.
Griezmann would be able to put his woes at Camp Nou behind him and start anew, playing in a position and a system he thrives in. Martinez, on the other hand, will get to move to his dream club and play alongside his idol, Lionel Messi.
Barcelona would be getting their hands on an ideal long-term replacement for Luis Suarez, while Inter Milan will get a world-class player in his peak years who will help them close the gap to Juventus. A win-win scenario for everyone.