Lautaro Martinez will have to earn his place at Barcelona if he leaves Inter, according to Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni.
Martinez has been tipped to swap Serie A side Inter for La Liga champions Barca in the off-season following his exploits in Italy.
The Argentina international forward scored 16 goals in 31 matches across all competitions before the 2019-20 season was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As a result of his performances in Serie A, Martinez has been hailed as an ideal replacement for Luis Suarez, who turned 33-years-old in January.
Martinez's international team-mate Lionel Messi has been full of praise for the young striker, although the Barca icon insisted that he was not privy to any negotiations held between his club and Inter .
Any deal for Martinez is far from complete, though, with former Nerazzurri striker Ivan Zamorano saying that he believes that Barcelona can't afford to complete a move for the forward due to the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the club's finances.
Carlos Pablo, president of the Argentine striker’s former club Liniers de Bahia Blanca, insisted that the deal was just about done , however, saying that Martinez's move from Inter to Barcelona is “practically closed”
Scaloni was asked about Martinez's future amid the transfer speculation and the Argentina boss told Radio La Red: "If Lautaro gets to go to Barcelona, I think the coach [Quique Setien] is going to look for a way to start him, he is going to have to sacrifice and earn his place."
"Taking Lautaro out of Inter is not going to be easy… I would like Lautaro Martinez to play, to have continuity," Scaloni added.
"Lautaro has one thing that he runs for him and for his team-mate. He will be the reference striker for the future."
Martinez swapped Racing Club for Inter in 2018 and he has quickly established himself as one of the most sought-after forwards in European football, forming a strong partnership with Romelu Lukaku for the Italian side this season.
He has scored 25 goals in total since joining Inter from Racing Club, with the Italian side currently sitting second in Serie A behind Juventus.