Inter will struggle to keep hold of Lautaro Martinez with Barcelona interested, according to Felipe Melo, who pointed to the example of Matthijs de Ligt joining Juventus.
The ex-Brazil international says the draw of playing with Messi could be too much to resist, just as a word from Cristiano Ronaldo helped take De Ligt to Serie A.
Barca want Lautaro as a long-term option in attack and the player is believed to be keen on a move to Camp Nou, but Melo doesn’t believe money is an issue in the deal.
“It would be difficult [for Inter to keep him] but not because of money. Inter have the money, the Chinese owner has the money,” Melo told Ole.
“It depends on what Inter want to do. If they want to be great again, and they are doing well as they fight Juventus and Lazio for the Scudetto, they have to throw money at Lautaro to stay. Messi too, take him to Inter.
“If I am the owner, I say, ‘have whatever money you want’ because they are in the Champions League and they can be great again.
“But it is difficult because Messi is there at Barcelona, and people love to play with Messi.
“If Juve called me to go and play with Cristiano, I would go back. The Ajax defender [De Ligt] was wanted by Barca but Cristiano called him and now he is at Juve.”
Melo recently said he remains an Inter fan despite only spending two seasons in Milan.
He has watched Lautaro in action plenty of times, and has been impressed with what he has seen.
“I know him, I see him play because I’m an Interista,” he said.
“My dream come true was to play at Inter. I had been at Juve and it was difficult for Inter but I went when I was 32 years old, after being at Galatasaray.
“He is a player who, apart from working so hard, reminds me of Gabriel Jesus – he works a lot without the ball, wants to steal it from defenders, throws himself around the pitch, fights everywhere, and scores lots of goals.
“For me, he is the attacker of the future in world football.
“He is 22 years old. He will gain more power, more strength and he scores goals. I love him as a player.”