The frustrated signing of Lautaro Martínez for Atlético de Madrid in 2017 | Soccer | Sports

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At the end of 2017, Atlético de Madrid assumed that Lautaro Martínez (Bahía Blanca, Argentina; 27 years old) would become part of the club in the summer of 2018. The red and white sports director, the Italian Andrea Berta, had won of a bid for what was considered one of the great promises of Argentine football, consecrated as such a few months earlier in the South American under 20. Several European clubs sent emissaries to see him live with Racing de Avellaneda. Atlético and Dortmund were the most interested, but Rolando Zárate, the player’s agent at the time, reached an agreement with the Madrid entity.

According to sources familiar with the negotiations, the red and white leadership accepted two conditions not to complete the signing in the winter market and not to publicize the transfer. Lautaro Martínez asked to stay until June 30, 2018 with the aim of participating in the Copa Libertadores with Racing and, incidentally, to earn merit so that Jorge Sampaoli would include him in the list of the Argentine team for the 2018 World Cup, the latter did not happen. . The second reason for not airing the transfer ahead of time was the elections for the presidency of Racing, which were to be held in December 2017. According to reports in Atlético, the president of Racing, Víctor Blanco, was running for re-election and announcing the Lautaro’s transfer could harm him.

The agreement with the player and his agent was so firm that Lautaro underwent a medical check-up with Atlético to assess how his right ankle had turned out after an operation. The latter did not please Víctor Blanco, who never closed the agreement. “Lautaro is from Racing, he is not from Zárate or Atlético. His clause is nine million euros and Atlético has made an offer of 12,750,000 euros, plus 10% of a future sale and we have rejected it.” These statements by the Racing leader already marked a turning point in Lautaro’s destiny as a future red-and-white player. Racing raised Lautaro’s salary and raised his clause to 20 million euros, but did not extend the duration of the contract. The entry on the scene of a second agent for the player, Carlos Alberto Yaqué, was interpreted at Atlético as the beginning of a second auction. In March 2018, Víctor Blanco announced Inter Milan as the winner of that second bid. The Italian entity paid 25 million euros, an amount that doubled that of Atlético.

Six years after that truncated signing, Lautaro Martínez appears tonight at the Metropolitano as one of the great threats that will jeopardize Atlético’s attempt to overcome the 1-0 deficit in the first leg. “Since he was a child he was an extraordinary player, he has shown it in Racing, with Inter and with the Argentine team,” admits Diego Pablo Simeone, who was also involved in the frustrated operation with several phone calls. “He found his place in football at Inter, with a coach who favors and enhances his playing style. He is one of the best forwards in Europe,” the Argentine coach explained about the person who could have been his pupil. Lautaro’s numbers this season are devastating. He has 23 goals in 25 Serie A games, his best record since he arrived in Italy. He only needs one and a half shots on goal to score, which describes a scorer with very fine aim. “He plays with the same passion that Simeone did, that’s why he has won over Inter fans,” says former Inter player and legend, Giuseppe Bergomi. “The captaincy they gave him last year has reinforced him. We are facing the best version of him because he does everything for the entire attacking front. He presses, finishes, assists and goes down to defend,” Bergomi explains.

Lautaro’s entourage describes a player who is almost obsessive with perfection: “He finishes the games and likes to watch the videos to see what he has done wrong. The captaincy has even led him to make efforts that he should not have. Many times you see him defending in his area when the coach doesn’t ask him to either.”

In the match played at San Siro, Atlético’s centre-backs suffered some of their manoeuvres. He baffled them when he delayed the position to unload the game and they were impressed by his power in the aerial game, despite his height (1.74 meters). His power in jumping comes from his time as a basketball player. Bahía Blanca is one of the meccas of this sport in Argentina and as a youth Lautaro had to choose between goals or baskets. It doesn’t seem like he was wrong.

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