Lautaro Martinez: Argentina and Inter Star
Lautaro Martinez is an Argentine professional footballer who plays for Italian club Inter Milan and the Argentina national team as a forward. He began his professional career with Argentine club Racing Club de Avellaneda (simply known as Racing) located in Greater Buenos Aires. He played for the Argentine giants from 2015 to 2018 scoring 22 goals from 48 games. His best season for Racing came in 2017-18 after he finished 2nd in the goalscoring charts netting 13 goals in the Argentina Primera Division. He also provided 5 assists that season.
On 4th July 2018, Italian club Inter Milan officially signed Lautaro Martinez from Racing Club for €25 million. Lautaro made his competitive debut for Inter Milan against US Sassuolo in a Serie A match. His first goal for the Nerazzurri came against Cagliari Calcio on 29th September 2018. In the 2018-19 season, Lautaro made 35 appearances for the club scoring 9 goals and giving 1 assist. Lautaro struggled for game time in his first season finding himself behind then club captain Mauro Icardi. But Icardi’s time at Inter would come to an end after controversies with the club’s hierarchy and the fans. After Icardi was sold (initially loaned out) to PSG coupled with the appointment of Antonio Conte as the team head coach, Lautaro found a bigger role at Inter from the 2019-20 season. The 2019-20 season was much better for the Argentine having netted 21 goals and gave 7 assists in 49 matches in all competitions. He formed a great partnership with Romelu Lukaku. Lukaku and Lautaro scored a combined 55 goals for the club in the 19-20 season with the former scoring 34 in all competitions.
Lautaro has been capped for Argentina 19 times with 10 goals scored as of October 2020. He was a squad member of La Albiceleste’s 2019 Copa America campaign where they finished 3rd. He scored twice in the tournament, once against Qatar and Venezuela each.
Lautaro is a fast dribbler with the ability to create space for himself when in possession. He had an xG of 0.66 per 90. His defensive contribution improved under Conte compared to former coach Luciano Spalletti. Lautaro’s defensive duels, interceptions and recoveries showed big improvements. However, his biggest skill is his off-the-ball movement. He constantly moves, always looking to get onto the blindside of his marker and forces the defender to have a reactive movement instead of a proactive movement. Lautaro also possesses killer instincts in the box, which is fundamental for a striker.
Despite his initial struggles in Europe, Lautaro is fully settled at Inter Milan and is a key player for the club. He has already scored thrice and assisted once in 3 Serie A matches this season (2020-21). Another great season for the Argentine at the Nerazzurri will see him be linked to other top European teams (especially Barcelona and to some extent Manchester City). He will be Argentina’s main striker in the future taking over from the likes of Higuain, Aguero, etc.