Manchester United have reportedly exercised a repayment clause in the deal that brought Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan in the summer of 2019, putting the Nerazzurri in sizeable debt.
Inter and United agreed a £69 million fee that saw the Belgian striker swap Old Trafford for the Giuseppe Meazza almost two years ago.
The initial arrangement included several instalments for the payment, but the Serie A giants have failed to keep up with their end of the bargain.
However, the Red Devils inserted an insurance clause that meant if Inter missed any payment deadline, they would have to shell out the entire transfer fee at once.
As reported by Corriere dello Sport, the Nerazzurri have violated the agreement due to the financial uncertainty surrounding the club, which puts them £43m in debt to United.
With the punishment clause already set in motion, the Premier League heavyweights are pressuring Inter to pay off their debt.
Suning’s decision to put all of their operations on hold has sucked the Italian club’s budget dry.
As a consequence, Antonio Conte may have to sell some of his first-team regulars to honour Inter’s financial obligations to United.
Lautaro Martinez Hypothesis
United harbour a long-term interest in Milan Skriniar as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seeks a long-term defensive partner for Harry Maguire.
While the Slovakian centre-back remains a viable option for United, Lautaro Martinez could be used to settle the debt.
The Red Devils are on the hunt for a top-class striker, with Anthony Martial failing to live up to expectations this season.
The Argentine’s price tag exceeds Inter’s debt to United by a fair margin, but the Premier League club are reportedly ready to compensate for the discrepancy.
Inter value their prized asset north of €100m and have already made it clear they are not ready to budge on their valuation.
Lautaro has been nothing short of outstanding since joining the Nerazzurri in 2018, becoming one of the most coveted forwards in Europe’s top-five leagues.
The 23-year-old, who has formed a prolific attacking partnership with Lukaku, has already contributed to 23 goals this season.
His profile ticks all the boxes for a type of player Solskjaer is looking to recruit.
Still very young and with room for improvement, the Argentina international is already a household name despite his age.
But, United will have to wary of Barcelona. Martinez’s name has featured on the Catalans’ shopping list for almost a year now.
Although Solskjaer can use Inter’s debt as a bargaining chip in potential negotiations, the Blaugrana will not surrender without a fight.