Forget Toney! Why Man Utd should do everything to sign Lautaro

Daniel Edwards
Daniel Edwards
  • 15 Oct 2022 17:15 BST
  • 4 min read
Lautaro Martinez, Inter, 2021/22
© ProShots

It is a scene which the Camp Nou crowd is used to seeing. An Argentine wizard taking the game by the scruff of the neck, scoring and creating goals to drive his team on even when his team-mates lag behind.

Only this time, Barcelona found themselves on the receiving end.

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Lautaro Martinez delivered a performance his friend and national team colleague Lionel Messi would have been proud of as the great man watched approvingly over in Paris, hitting one goal and laying on another for Robin Gosens as Inter held the Catalans 3-3 in a thrilling Champions League clash on Wednesday.

The Paris Saint-Germain ace would also sympathise with Martinez's toils in dragging forward a team which is short of form and confidence at the moment, and whose defensive shortcomings robbed the striker of the opportunity to spearhead a famous victory in Catalunya.

Indeed, even after Robert Lewandowski's trademark double to save Barca from certain elimination Inter could still have taken all three points thanks to another inspired Martinez pass late on, but he could only watch in frustration as Kristjan Asllani steered his shot straight at Marc Andre ter Stegen to allow Xavi's men to live another day.

It was nevertheless a crucial result for the Italians, who will clinch a last-16 spot at Barca's expense with victory over Viktoria Plzen or if the Catalans fail to beat Bayern Munich.

And for Lautaro it was yet another showcase for one of Europe's top strikers, one which has caught the attention of the continent's elite clubs.

United or PSG for Lautaro?

Lautaro Martinez, Inter, 2021/22
© ProShots

Links with PSG, as revealed by Gazzetta dello Sport this weekend, are logical enough. Messi and Lautaro have struck up a lethal partnership at international level, the best of the veteran's entire Argentina career and which has yielded 46 goals in 48 games over the last four years.

The pair share an intimate understanding and would certainly be a force to be reckoned with at Parc des Princes. But nevertheless talent-rich PSG are not the side which should be moving heaven and earth to sign the striker.

It is Manchester United who should have their eyes and chequebook trained on San Siro right now.

That the Red Devils will need a new striker at the very latest next summer is no secret and has only become more evident as Cristiano Ronaldo's decline continues.

Ivan Toney is the latest player to be linked with Old Trafford should Ronaldo finally get his much-desired exit.

But while the Brentford star is in fine form and pushing for a spot in England's World Cup plans he lacks a sustained period of excellence at the top level of football, and would be a huge gamble for a club infamous for transfer mishaps in recent years.

Much more than goals

Lautaro, moreover, offers much more than goals, four in 13 so far this term in all competitions.

The Argentine's bearing on the field is almost more reminiscent of a classic No. 10 as he looks to direct play in and around the box, and few forwards have both his vision and execution on the pass to play in team-mates into dangerous positions.

Inter's desperate need for that creative touch has pulled him away from the penalty area but once inside he also cuts a much-improved figure, taking his chances with calm and precision.

Already one of the best one-touch finishers in the game, Martinez has cut out the errors when he has time to pick his spot and recorded a personal best 25 goals in 2021-22 to take Inter to the brink of a second consecutive Scudetto.

Messi may wish to see his compatriot in Paris, then, but United's need is greater. Martinez has the ability to lead the line at Old Trafford for years to come and his scoring ability and overall game makes him far and away the best choice to replace Ronaldo.

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