Development of Lautaro Martínez as an elite option for club and country

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Development of Lautaro Martínez

The development of Lautaro Martínez takes a back seat to Argentina around Lionel Messi. However, the Inter Milan star is by no means a passenger in the Argentine’s recent run of success.

Argentina extended their unbeaten streak in all competitions to a staggering 33 games with a 5-0 thrashing against Estonia. Consequently, Argentina is slowly rising to the top of international football. In fact, many consider them among the early favorites for the 2022 World Cup.

Despite a stellar history and talent, the era led by Messi is largely underwhelming. World Cup heartbreak in 2014 preceded successive Copa America failures. Argentina hit a low as a footballing nation in 2017. Star forwards Sergio Agüero and Gonzalo Higuaín failed to live up to their club performances. Argentina’s lack of clinical finishing cost the team dearly. However, Lautaro Martínez, colloquially known as The Bullturned this narrative on its head.

The young Bahía Blanca striker is unstoppable for club and country. With 21 goals in just 38 international caps, the Inter Milan striker played a vital role in Argentina’s 2021 and 2022 Copa America. Finalissime glory. As the nation turns its attention to The AlbicelesteArgentinian hearts will hope the striker’s magnificent form will continue in Qatar.

Early potential

Ever since his time with Argentina’s youth teams, Lautaro looked like a star. Named best player of the COTIF tournament, he was the national youth team‘s top scorer. He followed those successes at club level. Magical performances with Racing Club’s youth academy earned him a place in the senior squad. He made a substitute appearance as a replacement for Inter and Argentina legend Diego Milito.

After another two years of strong performances for Racing Club, the striker has moved to the Nerazzurri. Inter Milan have a tradition of producing Argentine talent at the top. Clearly, Lautaro Martínez was in good hands at San Siro. His compatriot Mauro Icardi immediately took Martínez under his wing. The duo formed a strong partnership in pre-season. Still, tactical adjustments quickly sent Lautaro back to the bench.

Its first season showed flashes of brilliance. A last-gasp winner against Napoli was the turning point for the young striker. An off-field drama has left club captain Mauro Icardi out of the squad. Hence, Lautaro finally got the chance to prove his worth as a starter. He answered the call.

Lautaro Martínez development breaks through for Inter Milan

His inspiring performance in the derby and overall consistency impressed many Inter fans. To be fair, most Inter fans were fed up with Icardi’s drama. Lautaro continued his good performances until the end of the season. His consistency inspired Inter to a second successive Champions League qualification.

The following season began with controversy for the Nerazzurri. New manager Antonio Conte ousted Mauro Icardi and opted for Romelu Lukaku to complete the pair at the top of his coveted 3-5-2 formation. With Lautaro finally an undisputed starter, the 19/20 campaign has given him a place in the spotlight to play for one of Europe’s biggest clubs.

Together with Lukaku, they have formed one of the most clinical partnerships in Europe. Inter had a good season. It finished second in Serie A, the club’s best finish since runners-up in 2010/11. In Europe, Lukaku and Martínez propelled the San Siro side to the Europa League final. Only Sevilla could stop the Italian club in the end. They continued the following season where they left off, with the duo combining for 41 league goals.

Scudetto then departures of key figures

The following season, Lautaro and Lukaku got even better. A total of 41 league goals returned Inter to the top of Serie A. Inter’s 19th Scudetto cemented Lautaro Martínez’s place among Europe’s great strikers. After the season, Lukaku and Conte both left, but Lautaro’s loyalty kept him in Italy.

The 21/22 season had its ups and downs. Lautaro had his most successful season in professional football with 29 goal contributions in 49 games. The Argentine was essential to Inter Milan’s Supercoppa and Coppa Italia wins. His goal droughts were discouraging for Nerazzurri supporters. However, these failures can just as much be attributed to poor tactical decisions by Simone Inzaghi.

Moreover, no striker associated with Lautaro looks like Lukaku. Edin Džeko has attempted this role alongside Lautaro most times this season. Wayward touches and scrappy passes damaged Martínez’s link-up play. The Lukaku or Juventus Paulo Dybala option could be on the move this summer, with Inter as a strong contender. This could do wonders for Lautaro, who is still only 24 years old.

Further development

Overall, Lautaro Martínez’s development could go beyond his early successes. He has all the qualities that a striker is looking for in the modern game. A bulky build, quick acceleration and quick feet are just some of the tangible elements in the Argentine’s toolbox. Then things like leadership and the pressing nature allowed the club and the country to reap the rewards.

One shortcoming of Lautaro that became increasingly evident was his inconsistency from the penalty spot.

If Lautaro is able to cement this aspect of his game, he looks paramount to being a clutch player La Selección will rely on for many years to come. His unmatched passion coupled with his undeniable quality bodes well for Lionel Messi’s dream of bringing a World Cup trophy home to Argentina. The two made a great couple, as their chemistry extends far beyond their years together. At just 24, Lautaro hopes to add another illustrious trophy to his cabinet this winter.

With the weight of a nation on his shoulders, El Toro hopes to ignite the pitch on the biggest stage in the world.

PHOTO: Nicolò Campo/LightRocket via Getty Images

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