Liverpool have reportedly earmarked Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez as an ideal signing should Roberto Firmino leave the club next year.
Firmino is due to become a free agent in the summer of 2023, and there has been no news regarding a possible contract extension for the Brazilian attacker as yet.
Recent reports have linked Juventus with a £20m swoop for Firmino in the current transfer window, but Anfield sources have apparently rubbished such speculation.
Nevertheless, Liverpool may still lose Firmino on a free transfer at the end of the current season, which could see the Reds dip into their war chest to find a replacement.
According to Italian outlet Calcio Mercato, Martinez has emerged as a possible target for Jurgen Klopp’s side, as the 24-year-old continues to impress in Nerazzurri colours.
Martinez ended the 2021-22 season with 25 goals and four assists to his name from 49 appearances in all competitions, and 21 of his strikes came in 35 Serie A outings.
The Argentina international has been persistently linked with a move to the Premier League for the past couple of years but only signed a new contract with Inter last year, and those terms are due to run until 2026.
Despite bringing Romelu Lukaku back to the club on loan from Chelsea, Simone Inzaghi’s side are not expected to sanction Martinez’s exit this summer, but suitors will test the waters again next year.
The former Racing Club youngster has totalled 74 goals in 179 appearances for the Nerazzurri since joining in 2018 and was linked with both Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur earlier in the window.
However, after his agent issued a hands-off warning, the North London clubs instead turned their attentions to Martinez’s fellow South Americans Gabriel Jesus and Richarlison.
Liverpool manager Klopp was questioned on the Firmino transfer links ahead of the Community Shield with Manchester City, and the German issued a defiant response in his pre-game press conference.
“Bobby is crucial for us. Bobby is [the] heart and soul of this team. The way we played in the last few years was only possible because of Bobby,” Klopp told reporters.
“That’s why I’m really happy he could train the majority of the time here in the pre-season so far and everything looks really good.
“I am absolutely fine and, for me, there’s no doubt about his quality. All the rest, we will see how this year goes, but yes, he is essential for us.”
Firmino will battle new arrival Darwin Nunez for the striker’s spot against Man City on Saturday, with the Community Shield kicking off at the King Power Stadium at 5pm.