Is Lautaro Martinez the natural successor to Suarez at Barcelona?
Background image: Guba Zoky Rabko, CC BY-SA 3.0
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 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 Antoine Griezmann proves he still means business, the Blaugrana must look for a back-up plan once his steam runs out.
Perhaps the transition can be made easier by investing in a world-class striker like the Inter man. He’s agile and combative when venturing forward, while being a very much grounded striker keeping him in lieu with Barca’s philosophy.
Of course, that doesn’t mean he can’t bump in headers whenever necessary. If the tough-as-nails Serie A’s done anything, it’s aggravated his all-around instincts to be ready for anything. Barca have reinvigorated their chase for younger players recently and Lautaro could be the silver lining of their recent transfer business.
The Argentine’s warrior-like spirit has been spurring Inter forward this season, as he’s arguably been their most influential attacking figure, considering Stefano Sensi’s still settling in. He not only tends to wander into promising areas inside the penalty area, but how involved he becomes shows his admirable character.
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.
Moreover, his heroics at the Camp Nou in the UEFA Champions League bout showed a man on fire. The way Lautaro tormented Barca’s defenders with his wheezy movement, sudden acceleration and compelling striking ability proved his quality as a cunning centre-forward.
It also foreshadowed his potential ability to thrive in La Liga. Ever since coming from Argentina, like many of his peers, he’s taken the Serie A by storm. Similar to Gonzalo Higuain, Martinez’s proactive instincts have worked a charm in Italy.
He’s similar to the impactful centre-forward Karim Benzema has been for Real Madrid, with the Frenchman consistently coming big in the league. The Argentine’s hunger for goals, knack for moving in between defenders or even past them along with his fiery attitude could easily take La Liga by storm.
Barcelona’s squad would receive a huge boost upon getting a quality goal-scorer like the Argentine. 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...