Football News

Mauricio Pochettino hails Lautaro Martinez as ‘one of the world’s best’ amid Barcelona links

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 15:48, 21 March 2020

Former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino believes Inter Milan forward Lautaro Martinez should be wanted by a host of clubs this summer.

Martinez, 22, is enjoying a prolific campaign with the Serie A giants and has predominantly seen his name associated with five-time European Cup winners Barcelona.

The rise of Lautaro Martínez: Five key things to know…

  • Lautaro Martínez joined Inter Milan from boyhood club Racing Club in July 2018.
  • He’s since gone on to score 25 goals across 66 matches for the Nerazzurri.
  • Martínez this season has registered 16 goals in 31 games.
  • His name has long been linked with Barcelona as a replacement for Luis Suarez.
  • Mauricio Pochettino believes he should be a wanted man this summer.

In fact, before the 2019/20 season got underway Inter’s vice-president and club legend Javier Zanetti denied reports that Barça made an offer for the Argentinian whose present deal — which has a €111 million release clause for clubs outside Italy — expires in June 2023.

Since then Martinez’s stock and reputation has only risen with fellow countrymen Pochettino describing him as among the best strikers around. Martinez, to date, registered 16 goals across 31 outings under Antonio Conte.

The bulk of those strikes (11) have come in Italy’s top division making him the club’s second-most prolific goalscorer this season behind partner-in-crime Romelu Lukaku (17).

Pochettino, who stepped down as Spurs boss last November, subsequently feels Barcelona shouldn’t be the only superclub keeping close tabs on him.

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“Lautaro Martinez is one of the best strikers in the world,” he told Radio La Plata.

“It’s not just for what he does now, but for what his potential means going forward.

“If you start looking at hitmen for the big clubs, clearly his name has to be in there.”

“A complete player”

A move to Barcelona, if it were to happen, will obviously mean linking up with compatriot Lionel Messi.

Martinez has already played eight matches alongside the six-time Ballon d’Or winner, for Argentina’s national team, with half of those coming at the 2019 Copa America in which La Albiceleste ultimately reached the semi-finals.

Messi, watching from afar, has been nothing short of impressed with Martinez’s progression at Inter and would be happy to link up with him at club level.

“He is spectacular, he has impressive qualities, you could always see that he would have become a great player, now he has exploded and he is showing it,” he told Mundo Deportivo in February.

“He is very strong, he is great in one-on-ones, he scores many goals in the box, he keeps the ball well and has a lot of quality. He is a complete player. I wish he could come and play here and fight to win everything, including the Champions League.

“Lautaro is very similar to [Luis] Suarez, both of them move very well and score goals. Lautaro had a great Copa America and he has proven to be reliable. Suarez has a lot of experience and can help Lautaro adapt to the club and to La Liga.”