World Cup players to watch: Lautaro Martinez
Like all top European clubs, Manchester United will have scouts at the World Cup. This tournament in Qatar is the ideal opportunity to run the rule over players, to see how they perform in a high pressure environment.
One player expected to be on the club’s radar is Inter Milan forward Lautaro Martinez.
Manchester United are reported to be interested
Manchester United have been linked to Lautaro Martinez on and off for the past three years. La Gazzetta dello Sport reported just last month that United are keen on the striker.
Martinez is happy at Inter Milan where he has a contract until 2026. But money talks, and he has a big release clause if United feel he is worth it.
Lautaro Martinez release clause
Lautaro Martinez has a release clause of £100 million, report The Mail. Both Barcelona and Real Madrid have previously been linked with a move, but no club has been convinced that the forward is worth paying up for.
Inter may be tempted to accept a lower fee if a suitable offer arises. They need to find a way to finance a deal to re-sign Romelu Lukaku on a permanent basis, who only rejoined the club on loan.
Lautaro Martinez form this season
Martinez has been a regular for Inter Milan this season, scoring seven goals in 15 Serie A games. He also has one goal in the Champions League, against Barcelona.
His record in front of goal is consistent, last season he struck 21 Serie A goals, an improvement on 17 the year prior.
Martinez also has three league assists this season, the same he managed the entirety of last season.
Form for Argentina
Lautaro Martinez is one of three Martinez’s in the Argentina team, along with Manchester United centre-back Lisandro Martinez, and goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.
He is expected to lead the line for Argentina at the World Cup with Lionel Messi in a free role, having seized the spot vacated when Gonzalo Higuain retired from international football in 2019.
Martinez has a very impressive 21 goals in 40 international games for Argentina – and this will be his first World Cup.
He struck seven goals in 14 World Cup qualifiers and five in 10 at the Copa America last year.
Manchester United are looking for a striker
Lautaro Martinez ticks many boxes for Manchester United. He is a young, versatile forward who can lead the line on his own or play with a partner, who is a regular goalscorer for club and country.
The 25-year-old can elevate himself at the World Cup to show he is worthy of a substantial fee, which currently looks just too much.
Manchester United need a striker, and it would be hard to argue with paying £60 million to sign Martinez, if Inter could be persuaded to deal for this amount.
With Inter still in the Champions League, it will be hard to prise him away mid-season, and buying right after the World Cup could see his value soar if he peforms strongly.
If United like what they see at the World Cup, and Martinez continues to perform strongly, then it would not be a surprise to see the club step up pursuit of him next summer.
First let’s see if he can deliver in Qatar, starting with Argentina’s opening game against Saudi Arabia.