NBA

Lautaro Martinez not leaving Inter for Barca – Zanetti

By Sports Desk September 09, 2020

Lautaro Martinez will not leave Inter amid reported interest from Barcelona, according to vice-president Javier Zanetti.

Martinez has been strongly linked with a move to embattled LaLiga giants Barca and while the coronavirus pandemic has impacted clubs, rumours have continued.

The Argentina international forward scored 21 goals in all competitions as Inter finished second in Serie A and reached the Europa League final last season.

And countryman Zanetti ruled out a Martinez exit ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.

"Lautaro isn't leaving Inter," Zanetti told Fox Sports. "It's not just Barcelona who are interested in him, but Lautaro knows that he's at a great club already.

"He looks happy with life in Italy, which isn't easy. I think he's going down the right path.

"For now, he's not leaving. He's our present and future. There's respect on the clubs' part.

"There are players that have release clauses and there's little you can do when a club comes in and pays it.

"But in Lautaro's case, he's just fine at Inter and I can tell when he's happy."

Antonio Conte's Inter open their Serie A season at home to Fiorentina on September 26.

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    Antonio Conte praised the attacking display of his Inter side in their 5-2 win over Benevento but conceded they must find the right balance after conceding two more goals.

    Inter followed up their dramatic 4-3 victory over Fiorentina on the opening weekend of the Serie A season with another high-scoring win in Wednesday's clash at Stadio Ciro Vigorito.

    Romelu Lukaku got the ball rolling inside 28 seconds and doubled his tally after Roberto Gagliardini had put the visitors 2-0 up.

    Achraf Hakimi enjoyed an impressive debut and was also on the scoresheet, as was Barcelona-linked striker Lautaro Martinez, with Gianluca Caprari netting twice for Benevento.

    Inter's return of nine goals from their opening two top-flight matches is the most they have managed since 1961-62, but Conte can see room for improvement at the other end.

    "The most satisfying thing for a coach is to see that when the players change, the general approach and performance remains the same," he told Sky Sport Italia.

    "This is a team that attacks, creates many chances, so inevitably we leave something at the back. 

    "We conceded two goals again today, so need to have a look at the balance, but I enjoy myself watching this Inter play. We are building on a whole year of foundations, that is the important thing. 

    "We can also change between a playmaker and a trequartista even during a match, which makes us more unpredictable in attack.

    "The lads deserve praise - let's not forget Benevento were coming off a victory away to Sampdoria. We had the right approach, but there's work to be done and we'll do it."

    Inter have collected maximum points from their first two matches but Conte has repeatedly insisted they are not title favourites.

    Asked why he is so prudent when it comes to his side's Scudetto hopes, the former Chelsea boss responded: "I didn't ask anyone for anything.

    "Don't put words in my mouth or invent things. We should be enthusiastic that people see us as contenders, because that means they have respect for the club and the players.

    "It should be satisfying, because people see potential in us. Don't forget, for many years Inter were considered outsiders. 

    "The fact we are seen differently now means Inter regained credibility. That will also make it more difficult, because opponents will raise their game against us, but it's gratifying."

    One sour note for Inter was the sight of Arturo Vidal leaving the field early in the second half but Conte is unconcerned about any sort of lay-off for the new signing.

    "Arturo got a knock to his thigh, so with the result looking good and he seemed to be struggling with the bruise," he said. 

    "I preferred not to risk leaving him out there. I’m not worried, he's a warrior and always ready for battle."

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    Romelu Lukaku claimed a brace while new signing Achraf Hakimi scored one and made another as Inter coasted to a 5-2 Serie A victory at Filippo Inzaghi's Benevento.

    Antonio Conte's side needed two goals in the final three minutes to begin their campaign with a thrilling 4-3 win against Fiorentina, and while they found the net frequently again, this triumph was much more straightforward.

    Lukaku scored twice in the opening 28 minutes, either side of Roberto Gagliardini's effort, before newly promoted Benevento pulled one back through Gianluca Caprari.

    Yet Hakimi and substitute Lautaro Martinez also found the net as Conte comprehensively won the battle of the former Juve team-mates, despite a second Caprari goal late on.

    Inter had fallen behind within three minutes against Fiorentina on Saturday, but this time they were the ones that raced out of the blocks.

    A long raking pass from Aleksandar Kolarov reached Hakimi and, after a one-two with Alexis Sanchez, he crossed for Lukaku to find the net just 28 seconds in.

    Hakimi, making his full debut for the Nerazzurri, was then involved in his side's second when his deep delivery found Ashley Young, whose lay-off was emphatically smashed home by Gagliardini.

    The midfielder then turned provider for Inter's third after being gifted possession by Lorenzo Montipo, with Lukaku only needing to sort his feet out before being left with a simple finish.

    Montipo's opposite number Samir Handanovic made a similar error in passing straight to Caprari, who pulled one back for Benevento, but Hakimi stole in ahead of Luca Caldirola to restore Inter's three-goal cushion.

    The home side should have conceded five in the first period but Arturo Vidal missed the target with a close-range header, and Benevento improved after the break, Gabriele Moncini hitting the post shortly after the restart.

    Yet the woodwork denied Gagliardini too before a fifth and final Inter goal came courtesy of substitute Martinez 19 minutes from time.

    Caprari at least made the final margin of defeat less severe with his second, though Inter could have had a six as Ivan Perisic somehow fired wide from Hakimi's cross and Christian Eriksen hit the bar.

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    The Brazil attacker joined the Rossoneri for €35m from Flamengo in January 2019 and initially impressed, scoring once in 13 appearances in his first half-season in Serie A.

    But Paqueta failed to find the net at all last season and started just 12 times in the league.

    Milan have now cut their losses and allowed the 23-year-old to join last season's Champions League semi-finalists Lyon on a five-year deal.

    Having been an unused substitute in Milan's first two games of the new season, Paqueta was presented in France on Wednesday.

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