“He, at least, he scores…” Mateo Reteguithe Argentinian bet of Robert Mancini to overcome the shortage of Italian attackers, did not miss his debut in the jersey sky blue with two goals in two games. To be confirmed on the road to Euro 2024.
Against England, in Naples on Thursday for the first qualifying match, his first goal had not prevented the defeat of the European champions (1-2) but had sounded their alarm clock after a first half outrageously dominated by the Three Lions.
In Malta, Sunday, the authoritarian whim of the 23-year-old center-forward after a quarter of an hour of play put the Italians on the road to a victory without panache but synonymous with a rebound (0-2).
Retegui is only the fourth Italian international in history to score twice in his first two caps after Giorgio Chinaglia (1972), Enrico Chiesa (1996) and Riccardo Orsolini (2019, 2020).
“He unlocked the game, he was essential“, admitted Roberto Mancini, who can only be satisfied with his discovery unearthed in the Argentine championship where Retegui is top scorer (six goals in eight days).
Unknown to Italian tifosi so far, the center-forward plays for Club Atlético Tigre, a Buenos Aires club, on loan from Boca Juniors. Born in Argentina, he has an Italian passport due to the Sicilian origins of his grandfather, born in Canicattì.
It is part of the great tradition of Azzurri having originally held another nationality, dating back more than a century and boasting around 50 players, half of them Italian-Argentines like 2006 world champion Mauro Camoranesi.
His first international week obviously wasn’t enough for Retegui to learn Dante’s language. It is therefore in Spanish that the child from Buenos Aires described, on Rai, his “happy to have started“with Italy.
Inter on its trail
In the Italian press, his two goals are above all synonymous with relief, offering the hope of no longer depending solely on the irregular Ciro Immobile (33 years old, 55 caps, 15 goals), the one with whom Italy was champion of Europe in 2021 but also missed the World Cup twice (in 2018 and 2022).
Retegui ? “He, at least, he scores“, breathed in one Tuttosport.
“Two matches, two shots on target, two goals. When we give him more than one ball per game, we will have fun. Until then, thanks to the Mancio (Mancini, editor’s note) to have found it“, underlined the Gazzetta dello Sportwhile acknowledging that it “must improve tactically because he still wastes several balls, in movements, in relations with the team“.
Mancini, if he sees in the newcomer a possible Gabriel Batistuta, has hammered home the same message all week: “ithe need for time, he must still know European football well.“
“He must be quiet“, also encouraged the winger of Naples Matteo Politano when the doorman of the National Gianluigi Donnarumma insisted he still had to “work and learn (the) game concepts“.
This apprenticeship could continue directly on European grounds: his new international status sky blue has increased discussions about his future tenfold, according to Italian media.
Inter Milan, in particular, would be very interested in him. But the father of the person concerned, who is also his agent, assured to have also had contacts with Spanish, English and German clubs. The Argentinian unknown is no longer one.