Lautaro: ‘Lukaku disappointed me, I turned down Saudi offers’


Inter striker Lautaro Martinez says he was disappointed by the actions of former teammate Romelu Lukaku and confirmed that he has refused a big-money offer from Saudi Arabia. The Argentine international was speaking with La Gazzetta dello Sport about the importance of wearing the captains armband and the responsibility he know feels after the departure of so many experienced players:

Hello captain: we have to say so right?

“Oh yes, right. Wearing this armband (and he indicates it, even if it isn’t there, as if it were tattooed, ed) means taking on more responsibility within the team, inside the locker room. But I’ve always done it even before. I have one goal: to lend a hand to teammates who are in need.”

You were talking about the locker room: players who “had weight” have left, now it’s up to you.

“I’m prepared, I’m ready for this. For me it’s a source of pride, I want to live up to the many champions who have worn the armband in Inter’s history and make everyone proud of me. It’s true, important players have left, now there’s a younger group. But I’m now starting my sixth season here: I understand everything, I know everything, what I’ve learned I’ll make available to others”.

What did he say to the new ones who arrived?

“Just one thing: if you are here, if you wear this shirt, it is because you have something. You have been chosen, you are not here by chance. You have the right quality, strength and mentality to enter San Siro and play. Give everything, the fans will take care of the rest with the love that will accompany us”.

What kind of Inter team is being born?

“A Crescendo, let’s say ‘growing up’, this is the right term. Last year we kept the bar high. For many years, at least since I’ve been here, Inter has been working well: you can see the results, collecting the trophies, with the last Champions League we brought Inter back to the place it deserves in its history”.

Was Inter the one from Istanbul or from the 12 defeats in Serie A?

“We lost a lot of points along the way in the league. But let’s start again from the Champions League final. Because that match and that competition made us all grow individually from a football point of view. We left an important image of us, we gave a signal to the world “.

Do you ever think back to that missed goal on 10 June? Have you ever dreamed about that sequence of play?

“No, because I’m fine with myself: I made the right choice. Some say I should have passed it to Brozovic, others to Lukaku. In that second I decided like this and it’s fine, I’ve watched the videos many times with Guardiola already on the ground… But it’s not the only opportunity we had that evening, in my head I carry with me all the good things we did”.

Both the club and Inzaghi have talked about targeting the Scudetto. Isn’t that a burden?

“From the moment I became captain, I’ve had the desire to win the championship and lift the trophy above my head. My team-mates and I said it to each other, we left Inter at the top, people expect a lot from us and we’ll start from there.”

But why should people trust you for the Scudetto and not other teams?

“Because this is a club used to winning. And because we are hungry. I always want to win, even the training matches. And I want to convey this message to the younger players.”

Will it be possible to repeat the same path in the Champions League?

“Last year did anyone believe we’d make it to the final? Nobody. So we have to believe it again this year. Now everyone knows who Inter is, we’ve earned everyone’s respect in Europe.”

What kind of player is Thuram? Can you describe him to us?

“Marcus is very intelligent, he knows how to use his body well, he’s also very technical. We need him, he’s a champion, he’ll give us a big hand. We hope he understands Inter’s way of playing quickly and the coach’s idea, who get to know your comrades quickly”.

How does your way of playing with Thuram change, compared to Dzeko and Lukaku?

“Marcus is more like Edin, he likes to go get the ball away from the area, play with the team, talk. But I’ve always adapted to everyone, both as a first and second striker.”

You did it with Lukaku too. Your point of view on the situation?

“I was disappointed, it’s the truth. I too tried to call him in those days of chaos, he never answered me, he did the same with my other teammates. After so many years together, after so many things lived together, I was disappointed. Thankfully, it’s his choice. I wish him the best.”

But did he expect such behaviour?


You have refused millionaire offers from Arabia: why?

“It’s true, the offers have arrived. But I’m happy at Inter and happy in Milan, I have no reason to change, my family thinks like me.”

But why do young people also go to play there?

“Certainly the economic aspect enters your head, there’s no denying it, it’s a lot of money eh… But then it depends on the individual: for example, I chose this way because I want to continue playing at high levels, I’m already thinking about preparing myself well for the next Copa America or the next World Cup with Argentina”.

What is Inter for you?

“A second home. When I arrived, everyone gave me their love. I will never forget it. I come from a very humble family, I experienced difficult moments as a child: when people give me a hand, I appreciate it”.

How has Inzaghi improved you?

“It made me realize that you can work and learn even with a smile: it’s an aspect that always makes you be positive, even when the results don’t come”.

What is the goal of Lautaro as a man?

“Being a dad has made me grow up a lot. Now comes a second child (born in August, ed): his name will be Theo, I chose that, I wanted this name since I imagined becoming a father. I agreed with Agustina that she would decide if she was a girl and I was a boy: so, she Nina and I Theo. I hope to be the best possible parent for them”.

One concrete aspect that you have improved on the pitch after becoming a father?

“Now I think before doing things, before it was all instinct. Look at the yellow cards: before I got more, I learned to respect the referees and the opponents”.

Where does Lautaro the footballer still have margins for improvement?

“There are always things to ‘clean up’. For example, I can grow physically. And then with the movements on my left leg”.

Your sixth season begins: is there one thing you would change looking back?

“No, I’ve finished each season feeling more grown up than the previous one.”

Where do you see yourself in five years?

“I don’t know. I don’t like mixing the present with the future: you just risk making a mistake. And I want to enjoy Inter.”


Serie A obsessive.