A headline from this morning’s Daily Express reads, “Lautaro Martinez’s agent confirms Man City and Chelsea target will likely join Barcelona”.
The only problem is that the man they’re quoting is not Lautaro Martinez’s agent. He’s the agent’s brother, and his comments were quickly debunked already this weekend by the actual agent(s).
As per Football Italia, the Inter striker is represented by former footballers Carlos Alberto “Beto” Yaqué and Rolando Zárate. The latter’s brother, Sergio Zárate dropped this nugget over the weekend, which Beto quickly debunked, saying that Sergio is in “no way a representative, nor connected to the agency.”
But the Internet never forgets, and neither does the rumor mill.
“Lautaro is playing at Inter now, but trust me, he will certainly go to Spain next. There’s a very good chance he will join Barcelona. He’s a great player with no limits to his capabilities.
“The player will ultimately decide, but the fact that Lionel Messi wants to have him in the team can make his dreams come true.”
-Sergio Zárate, NOT Lautaro Martinez’s agent; source: Fox Sports Argentina via Football Italia
It’s not entirely inconceivable that Sergio has been privy to inside information through his brother of course, so just like when players’ parents take to the media, these comments cannot be completely ignored either.
And actual agent Beto Yaqué himself has talked up the Barcelona and Messi angle recently, to be fair, while simultaneously talking down and keeping all options wide open. Agenting!
“So many people have called me from Spain, England and Italy. We read comments and rumors in the press, but we don’t know anything. He’s fine where he is.”
“If I said I knew something about it, I’d be lying. He just wants to play football and score goals. We haven’t talked about a transfer to another club or his contract with Inter. We talk to various people from other teams and, out of respect for them, we’ve met them and got to know each other, but none of it’s been formal.”
“Who wouldn’t like to play with Messi? It wouldn’t surprise me if the big clubs wanted him. This is football, the market exists.”
–Alberto Yaqué; source: 947 FM Radio via Mail
Beto certainly gave a world class agent performance in that interview. He knows he’s sitting on a goldmine with the 22-year-old Lautaro, who should be commanding a fee upwards of €100m in the open market (the release clause is set at €111m) — though that could very well be attenuated by the post-coronavirus economic reality, not to mention Lautaro’s own contract with Inter, which expires only in 2023.
Under normal circumstances, Messi publicly recruiting you to play alongside him at Barcelona is a sure sign that you made it to the good place. But despite being top of La Liga when play was suspended, the Catalan giants are currently one of the biggest front office messes across Europe. Six board members resigned en masse over disagreements with how the club is being run, and the situation skews even bleaker when you consider that Messi himself isn’t getting any younger. He will turn 33 this summer.
Barcelona undoubtedly remain in the lead for Lautaro’s signature at the moment, but you never know in football. There are certainly enough cracks in there for Chelsea to wiggle in, if we so choose, regardless of what the agent’s brother’s dog’s playmate’s friend’s friend of a friend might say.