By Daniella Matar, The Associated Press on December 14, 2023.
MILAN (AP) – World Cup winner Lautaro MartÃnez has two targets: To score 100 goals this season and to renew his contract with Inter Milan.
One is more realistic than the other.
Inter is in discussions with its star striker on a new five-year contract and when asked if it could be sorted before the new year, Lautaro said he would gladly sign a new deal “tomorrow” and is very close to finalising the details.
Lautaro was in buoyant mood in the recent interview with Italian broadcaster Sportmediaset, which also asked him if he had a goalscoring target for this season.
“Let’s say 100,” the Argentina international responded with a laugh.
“I like to score a lot but the important thing is that Inter wins. My aim is to go up a level every year.”
Lautaro has certainly stepped up this year and has grown further after being handed the captain’s armband by Inter in the summer.
While 100 goals should be out of reach, breaking the Serie A goal-scoring record of 36 could be a distinct possibility.
Lautaro has 14 in 15 Serie A matches, and weighed in with four assists.
He has also netted twice in the Champions League. He started on the bench for Inter’s match against Real Sociedad on Tuesday, and when he was brought on midway through the second half Inter instantly looked more threatening.
Lautaro almost scored a last-gasp winner but the match ended 0-0 and Inter – last season’s runner-up – had to settle for second in its Champions League group.
Inter leads Serie A, however, and Lautaro should be fresher and raring to go on Sunday when the Nerazzurri visit Lazio.
Lautaro scored three times in two matches against Lazio last season, but the capital team finished second in Serie A, two points above Inter.
Lazio has had mixed fortunes this season though and is languishing in 10th place, 17 points behind the Nerazzurri.
Inter has two points more than second-placed Juventus, which travels to relegation-threatened Genoa on Friday.
The goal-scoring chart is a lot less close, with Lautaro having netted six more goals than his nearest challenger, AC Milan forward Olivier Giroud.
It is no surprise therefore that Inter is reportedly ready to break its wage structure to lock down Lautaro with a lucrative long-term contract.
Lautaro is already one of Inter’s highest-paid players, earning around 6.5 million euros a season but his current deal expires in 2026 and the club is reportedly set to increase his salary to 10 million euros.
“The fact that Lautaro said he “˜would sign tomorrow’ is really a lovely declaration of love,” Inter CEO Giuseppe Marotta said this week. “He is a real captain who wants to continue his experience with us. This is an important element to get to a new deal.
“I can say that it will be an easy renewal and that it will respect the balance of the team. If it happens before the end of the year or after is not a problem. I hope it will be signed within the month though. Dealing with a great professional and someone who has Inter in his heart allows us to be calm.”
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