Real Madrid are prepared to compete with rivals Barcelona to sign Inter Milan forward Lautaro Martinez in the summer, sources close to the player have told ESPN.
Martinez — who has scored 16 goals in all competitions this season — would be available for €111 million in July under a clause in his contract with the Serie A club.
There has been concern at the Bernabeu at a lack of goals from the Madrid forward line this campaign, with an over-reliance on Karim Benzema.
Sources at Madrid would neither confirm nor deny an interest in Martinez when contacted by ESPN.
A potential stumbling block in a move to Madrid would be Martinez’s lack of an EU passport. La Liga clubs are allowed a maximum of three non-European players in their squads.
The forward has also been heavily linked with Barca as an end-of-season replacement for Luis Suarez, who will miss the rest of the campaign after undergoing surgery on a knee injury in January.
Barca were in touch with Martinez’s representatives last summer and see him as a natural replacement for Suarez.
There was also contact between the clubs, as there is a good relationship between Inter’s sporting director Piero Ausilio and Ramon Planes, who works with Eric Abidal in Barca’s sporting department.
They have been following his progress for some time and with Suarez having just turned 33, a decision will soon need to be made.
Despite all that, sources have told ESPN that Martinez is not Barca’s only target, given their longstanding interest in bringing Neymar back to the club.
Sources also told ESPN that Manchester United want to sign the Argentina international but are aware that the player favours a move to Camp Nou.
As ESPN has previously reported, Barca view Martinez’s €111m release clause as a high but manageable figure, given Barca’s delicate economic situation which means they must bring in €140m by June 30.
ESPN’s Real Madrid correspondent Alex Kirkland contributed to this report.