North London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham have seen their pursuit of Inter star Lautaro Martinez hit a severe snag.
The Premier League pair have both had slow starts to the new season; Pacos Ferreira beat Tottenham in the Europa Conference, and they were recently hammered 3-0 by Chelsea. Arsenal have also struggled; Martin Odegaard’s free-kick did give them a much-needed boost against Burnley, but not before an opening day defeat to new boys Brentford and a 5-0 thrashing at Manchester City.
That form has left both teams interested in Inter’s Argentine striker Martinez. This season, the 24-year-old has been in good form, opening his campaign with three Serie A goals in four matches. Both North London teams have been keen on the forward, but the Metro reports it looks likely he will pen a new deal with Inter, removing a clause that previously left him open to a move.
The striker had been valued at £55m by Inter, and they have been happy to move key players on over the summer, with Romelu Lukaku getting a move to Chelsea after the Euros. However, if Martinez does sign a new deal, there will be no clause forcing Inter to sell if their valuation is met, which means a significant uplift in his value, possibly pricing the Premier League pair out of a move.
It is a blow to Arsenal, perhaps more so than Spurs. Harry Kane pledged his future to Nuno Santo’s side, which does give them some security this season, but Arsenal are set to lose two strikers for nothing at the end of this campaign. French forward Alexandre Lacazette and homegrown talent Eddie Nketiah are in the final nine months of their contract. Neither look likely to remain at the Emirates beyond that spell. A move for Martinez would signal the start of a new striking dynasty, but if the price increases, the chances of the Gunners striking a deal decreases.
These are challenging times in North London, with the Gunners rarely threatening to reach the heights achieved by Arsene Wenger in the years since he left the club. Their transfer business has been questionable, with Ben White costing them £52m over the summer and keeper Aaron Ramsdale adding another £25.2m to that outlay. Neither featured for England in Euro 2020 and whilst many clubs benefitted from strong business after the summer tournament, Arsenal did not. That’s nothing new; a Bwin piece on transfer business after a major tournament suggests they rarely do well on the back of an international competition. Their transfer business never looks strong after a big tournament and this summer, only Martin Odegaard seems to have settled quickly. Ironically, his Norway team were one of the only major European nations not to feature at Euro 2020.
That’s meant the Gunners are some way behind their rivals, and with players entering the final stages of their contract, the pressure is on manager Mikel Arteta not just to have a decent season but also to begin building his legacy at the club. However, 2021/22 is only the third season of the Premier League era where they haven’t qualified for Europe and the first since 1996. That alone could make it difficult to attract their targets, and with Martinez now seemingly happy to remain at Inter, their job of progressing the squad just got even harder.