Manchester United are set to battle Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur for the signing of Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez, according to reports from Italy.
Calcio Mercato suggests that, as the Argentine is soon to turn 26, he will be looking to make a big move in the summer.
Martinez is said to like Barcelona but be more open to a move to the Premier League, opening the door for the Red Devils and Spurs to battle it out for his signature.
The report suggests that the Inter forward could have an “important sponsor” in the form of Lisandro Martinez, with the two players connected via international duty.
Both lifted the World Cup in Qatar two months ago and could be set for further success together at Old Trafford.
With United in desperate need of a centre forward, Lautaro could well be an interesting option for Erik ten Hag to consider.
The striker is a relentless presser and his energy could be well-suited to the dynamic style that the Dutchman prefers.
Counterpressing has been an important feature of United’s game plan at various points throughout this season, and a centre forward able to lead the press could be invaluable as Ten Hag shapes his side.
Lautaro is also a fine dribbler with a good record in front of goal during his time in Italy. Given that United also lack a clinical finisher, that could well be to the team’s benefit as well.
Calcio Mercato puts the Argentina star’s price at around €100m, however, which could represent quite the gamble.
Martinez does lack some important qualities that Ten Hag has typically sought from his central strikers. For one thing, he is very much a ‘front facing’ forward, who often relies on the likes of Edin Dzeko to do the ‘back to goal’ work typically required of a centre forward in today’s game.
In fact, Lautaro has seldom played as a lone striker, and his attempts to do so for Argentina at the World Cup led to some sub-standard displays, which eventually saw Lionel Scaloni prefer Manchester City’s Julian Alvarez up front.
That should raise alarm bells for team’s looking to sign the Inter Milan man for a single-striker system, such as Manchester United.
At 5’9” and winning just 1.27 aerial duels per game – putting him in only the 36th percentile for strikers in the ‘Big 5’ leagues (fbref) – he would not offer much in the way of providing an outlet for long passes should the backline be put under pressure.
The very fact that it was 6’6” Wout Weghorst brought in as a stop gap during this transfer window would suggest that some ability in the air would be preferred by Ten Hag upfront.
So while Lautaro Martinez does possess certain qualities that could help Man United out in the centre-forward position, his lack of others would certainly seem to make a €100m price tag a gamble unlikely to be worth taking.
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