Last week, there were rumblings of Arsenal inquiring about a Lautaro Martinez transfer from Inter Milan, perhaps in a player + cash deal for Héctor Bellerín or just about his general availability. That rumor isn’t going away. Today, Rome-based newspaper Corriere dello Sport, as summarized here.
Admittedly, the basis for the rumor is still shaky at best — Italian papers are notorious for their ill-sourced rumor-mongering, but the fact that it hasn’t completely died away suggests there might be more to it than some newspaper throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks. And as we pointed out last week, David Ornstein, who is generally pretty good when it comes to all things Arsenal added his imprimatur to the whispers, confirming that Arsenal had at least asked Inter about the Argentine.
There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to Inter and transfer rumors right now. Romelu Lukaku reportedly told the club he wants a move to Chelsea and has, per reports, agreed to personal terms. The transfer would cost the Blues north of £100M. Aside: should Chelsea move for Lukaku, Tammy Abraham, who was also linked to Arsenal this week, becomes even more surplus to requirements and likely gets loaned or moved outright.
One school of thought would say that with that chunk of change in hand, Inter would be able to hang onto their other players. Another says that they’re in really, really bad shape financially, might need to make more sales to stay afloat, and selling Lukaku might motivate other stars to jump what appears to be a sinking ship. And for what it’s worth, Inter’s transfer policy for this summer is reportedly why Antonio Conte left the club, even after wresting the Serie A title away from Juventus for the first time in a decade. That suggests that Lukaku might not be the only star on the move.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that after poking around this rumor and Inter’s financial trouble more generally, a disturbing amount of criticism and basis for a lot of the transfer rumors seems to stem from thinly-veiled racism directed towards Suning Holdings Group, the ownership vehicle for Chinese owner Zhang Jindong. It all has the feeling that whoever is writing or posting about Suning and the financial situation at the club wouldn’t be nearly as critical or judgmental, or would at least be phrasing things differently, if Inter was owned by, say, a Western European.
As if it wasn’t difficult enough to separate truth from fact with transfer rumors, with this particular one, you’ve got to sift through racist motivations and undertones (or overt racism, both in this case and as we saw with the Juventus women’s twitter account). Obviously, any sort of discrimination is repugnant, and we condemn it in the strongest terms possible.
Shifting gears back from that important aside, buying Lautaro Martinez is the type of move that Arsenal should make if they can. He’s that good (stat radar from Scott Willis). The Athletic did a very good breakdown of how he’d fit in with the Gunners — tl;dr he’s a progressive dribbler, can drop into deeper spaces to create, and gets shots from 12-yards in a.k.a. where cutback passes wind up. And as I noted last week, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is no spring chicken. The Gunners are going to need a replacement for him at some point.
I still don’t think it’s likely to happen, but it’s some degree more possible than it was last week. And perhaps this is just wishful thinking on my part, but I’ve got a feeling that Arsenal are still going to make a big splash before the window closes at the end of August. Maybe it’s Lautaro Martinez.