Back in the summer transfer window, Barcelona were linked to a lot of players to shore up the places in the team that needed stability and while the merry-go-round saga of Neymar kept showing up every now and then, a position that wasn’t given due and adequate focus was the number 9 position. Of course, that slot is being perfectly held down by Luis Suarez but at 32 years of age and with no ideal backup for his position, the Barcelona hierarchy would already have their eyes set on a couple names as potential replacements/heirs to Suarez’s throne.
Over the past few weeks, players like Marcus Rashford, Rafael Leao, Donyell Malen, Erling Braut Håland have been linked with the Catalan club and looking at the names on closer look, the one similarity the aforementioned players all share is their pool of experience at top level despite their relatively young ages. However, if Barcelona are really interested in getting a future prospect that could provide a Suarez-esque impact upfront, the one player they should be looking at is Inter’s Lautaro Martinez.
The poster boy for the Antonio Conte Inter Milan revolution has been Lautaro Martinez. As much as new-man Romelu Lukaku remains the Italian’s favourite, it’s the Argentine coming up with the goods whenever the Nerazzurri require it most.
It’s almost like Mauro Icardi never left the building! Martinez already looks an evolved version with the kind of spirit to brush off any rustiness troubling their game. Having netted five goals in all competitions already, he looks a shade brighter than usual when scripting opportunities.
While Martinez started making strides last season, working under an encouraging manager is rubbing off positively. The 22-year-old has taken kind to Lukaku, nearly perfecting the intuitive link-up between the two. With their different traits complementing each other, Inter’s opponents can’t figure out whom to stop.
Martinez’s ever-bearing presence makes him a tricky customer to deal with as he can zoom in to unpredictable areas with ease and possesses enough pace to outwork defenders. Unlike Lukaku, the young striker still has many of his best years ahead. It’s his decision where he wants to spend his quality.
He’s almost like a mirror image of a younger Luis Suarez, still reaping his rewards at Barcelona. While the Uruguayan’s phenomenal chemistry with Lionel Messi and much recently Antoine Griezmann proves he still means business, the Blaugrana must look for a back-up plan once his steam runs out (which is already anytime from now if we’re being realistic).
In all honesty, the odds are in Barceloa’s favour to snap him up should they go all out for him. In last month’s international break, comments made by Beto Yaque, the agent of Inter Milan’s Argentine striker Lautaro Martinez, made the rounds in the media following the striker’s 16-minute hat-trick against Mexico on 9 September in an international friendly, taking his international tally to 12 goals in only 14 caps (Transfermarkt) and making him the first Argentina player to score three goals against Mexico since 1930.
Martinez’s agent was very impressed with his play and spoke to Argentine sports television channel TyC sports about his wish to see his client play with Argentina teammate Lionel Messi at Barcelona.
“It’d be wonderful to see him play with Leo Messi at Barcelona,” he said. “It’s great to see him play like that, so relaxed and happy. He has remarkable control in his first touch and that makes it very difficult for defenders to catch him.
Knowing how creative he is with his link-up play, Martinez should be able to blend into Barca’s style like a round peg in a round hole. Seeing the way he’s helping a developing Nerazzurri side under Conte, the sky’s the limit at a well-oiled machine like the Spanish giants.
Moreover, his heroics at the Camp Nou in the UEFA Champions League showed a man on fire. The way Lautaro tormented Barca’s defenders with his pacy movements, sudden acceleration and compelling striking ability proved his quality as a cunning centre-forward. Even better, he can also play as a supporting-striker and can play on the flanks as well – making him the ideal upfront signing.
Knowing how creative he is with his link-up play, Martinez should be able to blend into Barca’s style like a fish in water. Seeing the way he’s helping a developing Nerazzurri side under Conte, the sky’s the limit at a well-oiled machine like the Spanish giants.
Not to forget that he has played with Messi in the Argentina national team, and both showed a great understanding on the pitch. I wouldn’t want to play with Messi for both club and international level. Said no footballer in normal thinking circumstances. All it’ll take is one call from Lionel Messi and it’s safe to say the “little man” is the invisible technical director at Barcelona and once he likes a player, the move is about 90% done (except you bring much baggage like Neymar).
Barcelona will definitely go into the transfer market again with the acquisition of a centre forward in mind, and Lautaro Martinez can be the heir to Suarez’s throne.
Barcelona’s squad would receive a huge boost upon getting a quality goal-scorer like the Argentine. It would be a brilliant move to go for the 22-year-old while Suarez approaches the latter stages of his career. He’ll get the chance to study their style and get used to it before Suarez eventually passes him the torch. If he’s scoring for fun even before reaching his best years, it’s imaginable how scary he’ll be once he’s honed his ultimate ability.
If a call from Messi arrives, Martinez wouldn’t be able to resist. Winning titles each year with Barca also poses as a more lucrative option than hustling for one with Inter. If he maintains consistency with his scoring rhythm, it won’t be late before the Blaugrana pounce for the fiery Argentine. The only stumbling block might be the €111m release clause Inter have placed on Martinez (Calciomercato) but bearing in mind his current abilities coupled with his potential playing with better players, it might be well worth investing and Barca will definitely reap the rewards of their money’s worth.