Welcome to our Lautaro Martinez 2020/21 report card. As part of our post-season coverage, we’ll be dishing out grades and analyzing every Inter player’s season.
Games Played: 48 (38 starts, 3,238 minutes)
What went right this season?
A key part of Inter’s Scudetto glory was how so much of the roster took their game to the next level. Milan Skriniar grew comfortable in a back-three, Nicolo Barella and Alessandro Bostoni continued their red-hot progress after strong debut seasons, Romelu Lukaku became even greater a force in attack. It was Lautaro Martinez, however, who exemplified that sentiment the most. The Argentine became a key part of Inter’s attack in the 19/20 campaign with 14 goals but lacked consistency and went through a lengthy cold-stretch to end the season. This time around Lautaro was a menace from Matchday 1 to 38. Rather poetically notched a goal and an assist in both the season opener and closer. Sometimes being one of the most improved players says more about a disappointing previous season than the actual quality of the campaign in question. But for Lautaro, it only showed his monumental growth.
The 23-year-old’s importance to Inter’s style of play was twofold; his partnership with Lukaku resulted in countless goals for the Nerazzurri and gave it an attacking outlet that few teams could deal with successfully. Lauatro was first in shots taken (135) and second in shots on target, made the second-most dribbles, and created the fourth-most shots (2.82 per 90). More and more of Inter’s attack was funneled through the Argentine compared to last season, and he rose to the occasion. On the other hand, Lautaro’s off the ball work, especially defensively, offered Inter a first line of protection and kept the opposition defenders uncomfortable through ninety minutes. Lautaro was a constant nuisance when Inter wasn’t in possession and had the 4th-most pressures, the 2nd-most tackles in the final third, the 4th-most passes blocked, and the 5th-most interceptions.
Here’s his season heatmap from sofascore. The entirety of the attacking half was fair game for Lautaro as he tracked opposing defenders across the pitch and carved the defense up left and right with crafty runs.
Lautaro had a multitude of highlight reel moments throughout the season, but his brace against Milan in Inter’s 3-0 win stands out the most. He opened the scoring five minutes in with a header off a Lukaku cross that showed his ability to score with any means necessary (he scored goals from both feet and head) along with the special connection with his strike partner. Lautaro’s second capped off an incredible team move of passing from deep in Inter’s own half to the opposing penalty box. Lautaro’s intelligent run left Milan’s defense in shambles and was the final nail in the Rossoneri’s title hopes’ coffin.
What does he need to improve on?
Lautaro’s league form was almost unmatched (except for a certain Belgian) but he struggled to replicate it on the European stage. He had only one goal and one assist in six Champions League games. Lautaro’s finishing was particularly suspect in Europe, even though it has improved substantially since 19/20.
What role will he play in 2021/22?
Transfer rumors seem to follow Lautaro around no matter where he goes and it’s no surprise that they’re especially prevalent this summer. Atletico Madrid is his main suitor according to reports but as of writing, the Colchoneros haven’t made any serious moves for him. A big offer would be hard to refuse for Inter but the LuLa relationship won’t be easily replaced, if ever. Keeping the starting strike pair in Milan even amid significant interest would be a sign of intent that last season wasn’t be an exception to the rule. But as we know all too well with Inter, it’s never as easy as it could be.