The financial woes of Inter owners Suning have been highlighted as they struggle to keep hold of key players, just a year on from attempting to lure Barcelona icon Lionel Messi.

As reported in today’s newspaper edition of Tuttosport, the Chinese retail conglomerate have seen their financial capabilities plummet over the past year, despite leading Inter to a first Scudetto since 2010 last season.

This is highlighted by Suning’s ambitious attempt to sign Messi last summer as the Argentina captain appeared set to walk out on Barcelona, with Inter projecting an image of him on the city’s Duomo di Milano cathedral as part of their efforts to bring him to Serie A.

Since then, the Nerazzurri have battled ongoing economic troubles and have deferred wages, taken on a loan from US investors Oaktree Capital, and have cashed in on Achraf Hakimi. Meanwhile, striker Romelu Lukaku is on the verge of a move to Chelsea, despite being Inter’s top scorer last season.

Messi, meanwhile, remained at Barcelona for a further year but the Catalan club confirmed on Thursday that they have been unable to retain the iconic forward, who is now a free agent.