Nicknamed ‘the Bull’, the story of the rise of Argentine forward Lautaro Martínez is something of a sensational nature.
The 22-year-old Inter Milan striker netted two goals for the Italian side against Ukrainian outfit Shakhtar Donetsk in the semifinal of the ongoing UEFA Europa League, thereby ensuring Inter are the final of the Europa League for the first time in 22 years.
Just three years ago, Martínez was featuring for home club Racing Club in the Argentine league, a club he joined in 2015 before going on to score a total of 27 goals in his 60 appearances for them.
The lad has found his place among the very good and highly rated strikers in world football with his strong physical and mental awareness. He bullies defences with his strength and agility and that has paid dividends for him in whichever team he has featured for in both at club and national team levels.
At 15, Martínez made his professional debut for Deportivo Liniers, a local football club in Argentina and scored a goal in 2013. A year after that, he was acquired by Racing Club and in 2015, broke into the first team as he replaced club legend Diego Milito.
He reportedly rejected an offer to join Real Madrid’s second team, the Castilla the following season amid interests from the Spanish outfit. A year later, Italian outfit Inter Milan splashed out €25 million to lure him away from his home country to beat off competition from the likes of Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal.
So far in Italy, and especially in 2019, he has grown rapidly and gotten himself acquainted with the style of the game in the European nation. He has adjusted quickly to the terrain and also the weather of the country. He might not have scored so many goals for the club but at 22 and for the price he was bought, he has justified his price tag.
The Argentine forward has so far formed a formidable partnership and almost a telepathic understanding with Manchester United reject, Romelu Lukaku such that in 2019, the duo linked up to be one of Europe’s deadliest partnerships.
A year before he joined Inter, there were a lot of rumours flying around that Martínez had signed for Spanish outfit Atlético Madrid but Racing later made an announcement that he had signed a renewed contract which included an increased release clause.
Spanish big boys Valencia were also rumoured to be interested in securing the services of the Bahía Blanca-born forward during that time but Racing held strong on to their most priced asset and waited for the right offer.
In fact, reports indicate that in 2015, a deal was concluded between Racing and Real Madrid for Martinéz’s signature, but the kid chose to remain in Argentina.
With a total of 20 goals in 60 games for the Europa League finalists, his fans will definitely be expecting him to bang in more goals than he is currently doing and you can trust him to do so in the Europa League Final and in the upcoming Serie A season.
Martínez has also been linked with Barcelona, with talks about his move to the Catalan giants heating up in the past few months. The rumours have however been met with mixed reactions. While some are of the belief that the forward should make a move to Spain to form a partnership with fellow South American, Luis Suarez, and even ultimately replace him in the future, others are of the view that Martínez will find it quite hard to nail a spot in the starting XI of the Blaugrana.
That said, talks about his move have died down now as the Spanish side are in a turbulent period experiencing some very big decisions about administrative and managerial positions at the club.
Former England, Real Madrid and AC Milan manager Fabio Capello told El Larguero: “Lautaro Martinez is a very good player; he has everything. But going to Barcelona and becoming a starter with Luis Suarez still there would be difficult. I think it is better to be a starter at Inter than a substitute at Barcelona.”
In 2018, Martínez was included in Albiceleste’s preliminary squad for the FIFA World Cup in Russia but failed to make the final squad. He made his international debut in 2018 in a 4-0 International friendly win over Iraq and also scored his first senior International goal in the match. He went on to represent the Argentine national team at the 2019 Copa América where he helped them to a third place finish. His dedication and consistency has seen him score a total of seven goals in 17 appearances for the Argentine national team.
While speaking to Bleacherreport, Scher, who is a member of the national team staff of former Argentine coach, Jorge Sampaoli stated: “Aguero made his senior debut in 2003, while Higuain did so in 2005. Lautaro emerged in 2017. In the meantime, Argentina did not see any other forward of this caliber break through.
“The only exception was Mauro Icardi, although we did not get to enjoy him. Lautaro’s talent is undeniable. He’s the best player to have graced Argentinian football since Aguero and Higuain.”
“He has the mentality of a ‘crack’. That day he scored a hat-trick and said afterwards he was unhappy seemed to me like his letter of introduction, a way of saying, ‘I netted three times, but I want more.’ He’s a very intelligent kid, adapted to this social media universe, far from any kind of scandal.”
Martínez is now on the verge of winning a European trophy for the Nerazzurri in only his second season with the club and this could just be the beginning of his Trophy hauls for Inter and other clubs (if any) he chooses to play for in the future.