Lautaro Martinez: The Leading Role at Inter Milan

Around the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, his name is almost everywhere. When Inter play at home, it is their flocking which is most often highlighted by the street vendors placed all around the Milanese enclosure. In the blue and black part of the Lombard capital, Lautaro Martinez is everyone’s idol. The captain who leads his troops. The number 10 that shines and shines. The scorer who could break all records this season.

Already last Friday, the Argentinian international scored against Salernitana (4-0) his 20th goal of the season… in 24 days. He thus became the third player in the club’s history to score at least 20 goals in three seasons in a row, after Giuseppe Meazza (five, between 1929/30 and 1933/34) and Stefano Nyers (four, between 1948/ 49 and 1951/52). And the second to crash so much after a first leg in Serie A since the move to 20 clubs (2004-05): 16 goals, behind Mauro Icardi’s 17 (2017-18). Enough to give a slight idea of ​​its dimension at Inter.

In total, Lautaro has 23 goals in 31 matches in all competitions. Without forgetting his 5 assists distilled here and there. In this almost perfect season for his team, which is flying straight towards the 20th Scudetto in its history, synonymous with a second star on the jersey, and after having already lifted the Italian Super Cup last January, “Lauti” plays – as often – the leading roles. “But I work for that, he reacted soberly last Friday to InterTV. I am very happy and very happy (…) I want to continue working, and it is a message for everyone, including the new arrivals: Inter must always be up there and I am trying to convey that. Currently, we are playing football at a very high level. We must continue on this path.”

Eighth top scorer in club history

Landing in 2018 in Lombardy, Lautaro has been through everything since. Individually and collectively. But without regrets. “I’m nobody, I always try to improve, he continued on Inter TV. My first trophy was the Scudetto with Inter. I won everything with the selection, but that means nothing say. We must always continue to progress, without stopping.”

Year after year, season after season, coach after coach… Lautaro has strengthened himself without ever giving up. Arriving as a virtual unknown to the general public, although for 25 million euros, the former Racing Avellaneda (Argentina) striker has since made a name for himself. To the point of placing him eighth in the ranking of the best scorers in Inter’s history with 125 goals, ahead of Mauro Icardi (124) and Christian Vieri (123). And in front of him, the various Nyers (133), Lorenzi (143), Cevenini (158), Mazzola (160) and Boninsegna (171) all seem within reach. Alessandro Altobelli (209) and Giuseppe Meazza (284) are much further behind. “I hope he can become the new Zanetti of Inter, enthused Javier Zanetti, vice-president of the Nerazzurri, at the end last year. I’m very happy for him, he deserves everything that happens to him. He’s our captain, a very important player for us.” Happy in Milan, very attached to Inter, Lautaro also found a perfect sidekick on the pitch: Marcus Thuram. Their association, renamed “ThuLa”, wreaks havoc wherever it goes (30 goals and 14 assists between them in the league). Enough to make us forget the “LuLa” and the now banned Romelu Lukaku. “What I like most about Lautaro is his technique and his sense of goal. Lautaro and I complement each other well because I think Lautaro is a very intelligent player and I try to be very intelligent too “We are two players who respect the game, it’s easier to play with someone like that,” said the French international in December.

For me he is one of the five best strikers in the world

Despite his performance and his status, Lautaro sometimes knows he is forgotten in the debates around the best striker in the world. After all, why couldn’t he sit at the table with various Harry Kane, Robert Lewandowski or Victor Osimhen? “For me, he is one of the best scorers in the world,” said Ivan Zamorano, former Inter striker, to La Gazzetta dello Sport last week. “He can sit at the table with Mbappé, Haaland and Kane. consensus around him is universal. He is not only complete, but he is also an indisputable leader of Inter, and all this only thanks to his merits. In every match, there is everything that Lautaro means to Inter: leadership, work, sacrifice, effort and perseverance. He won the hearts of fans with all these elements.”

Lautaro Martinez scorer of the winning goal for Inter Milan in the final of the Italian Super Cup against Naples, January 22, 2024 in Riyadh

Credit: Getty Images

“He’s one of the five best strikers in the world because he knows how to make the difference, by scoring and making his team play. Is Osimhen better? Never!”, even blurted out Antonio Cassano, who notably played for Inter during his career, at the start of the season. During the last four years (from 2020-21 to 2023-24), Lautaro has shown himself capable of scoring at least 15 goals. A performance only achieved by two other players in the five major championships: Kylian Mbappé and Harry Kane. According to several market players, his performances during the 2022 World Cup, certainly won by the Albiceleste, however played on the side of the Argentine striker, who went from starter to substitute over the course of the matches. The European scene (12 goals in 42 Champions League matches, 3 from the round of 16) must also become his showcase. “He is one of the best in the world, if not the best,” assured Marcus Thuram without the slightest doubt on the subject on Monday at a press conference.

An obvious extension… but complicated

Behind the scenes, Lautaro’s name is also on everyone’s lips. And for good reason, since his contract extension until 2028, often announced as imminent in recent months, is dragging on. So should we be worried about the continuation of this beautiful story? A priori no. “I’m happy, very happy here,” the person said on Friday to DAZN. “I didn’t expect so much love when I arrived at Inter, neither did my family. A few details are missing but it will happen quickly . It’s not an easy thing, but we continue to work on it.” “There is still no agreement,” his agent regretted to Radio Sportiva on January 24. “There is still time, we are negotiating. Finding an agreement is not easy, there are many aspects to study. He’s happy at Inter. If we get an extension, that’s great. And if not, we’re all professionals.”

Once yes, once no. In what now looks like a sort of common thread at Inter, the extension of the 2022 world champion is also being watched elsewhere. And particularly in Paris, where the departure of Kylian Mbappé could create many waves. “A risk that PSG will attack him? We risk daily, it’s the nature of football, replied Giuseppe Marotta, managing director of the Lombard club, to DAZN. There is no worry, we are not going to being conditioned by the front pages of the newspapers. I don’t see any difference between us and PSG (…) We have very strong ownership, and we are competitive thanks to that.”

According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, the “Toro” entourage would demand a salary of 10 million euros plus bonus, while its management wants a fixed base of 8 million. “Optimism is still present,” it was stated on February 8, referring to a meeting scheduled for next March in Madrid. But in case things go badly, which no one wants, Inter still set their price according to the pink daily: 150 million euros. Not really Everest for such a player.

Inter Milan’s Argentine forward #10 Lautaro Martinez celebrates after scoring the team’s first goal during the Italian Serie A football match between Fiorentina and Inter Milan at the Artemio Franchi Stadium, in Florence on January 28, 2024. (Photo by Fil

Credit: Eurosport

2024-02-20 17:28:00
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