Manchester United are facing disappointment in their attempts to join the race for Inter Milan forward Lautaro Martinez, sources have told ESPN, with the 22-year-old striker making it clear that he favours a summer move to Barcelona.
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who failed to persuade Erling Haaland to reject Borussia Dortmund for Old Trafford following his exit from FC Salzburg last month, wants to add at least one striker to his squad during the summer window, with Argentina forward Martinez emerging as a top target.
The 22-year-old striker, who established himself in the Argentina squad alongside Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero, has become one of the most sought after young strikers in Europe since arriving at Inter from Racing Club for £20 million in 2018.
United's scouting team believe he fits the profile of being able to develop and realise his potential at Old Trafford. But Solskjaer's side face serious competition for Martinez, nicknamed 'The Bull,' with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester City all monitoring the player, who has a €111m release clause in his Inter contract.
United have been told that Barcelona are favourites to land Martinez at the end of the season due to the forward's preference for a move to the Camp Nou in order to play alongside international teammate Messi at club level.
United are already preparing to take Alexis Sanchez back to Old Trafford this summer following his season-long loan at Inter.
And they could yet complete a permanent deal for Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo following his six-month loan switch from Chinese club Shanghai Greenland Shenhua.