Javier Zanetti once won the treble with Inter Milan and shaped the club as a figure of identification. The Argentine currently sees a legitimate successor
Cup winners and Champions League finalists Inter Milan are top of the Serie A table with 31 points after twelve match days – a statement that underlines the fact that the top club of the past has also become a top club of the present.
Lautaro Martinez, who leads the Serie A scoring charts by a large margin with twelve goals from the twelve league games so far, is particularly proud of this. In the semi-final second leg of the last Champions League season, it was he who scored against city rivals AC Milan to secure the team’s place in the grand final – the symbol of a figure of identification.
The 26-year-old Argentinian, who arrived from his native Racing Club in 2018 and now wears the captain’s armband at Inter, has become just such a figure in northern Italy. A man who knows a thing or two about it also thinks so: Javier Zanetti. The 50-year-old former all-rounder, a compatriot of Martinez, rose to become one of the greatest club icons the Nerazzurri have to offer between 1995 and 2014 and is currently singing the striker’s praises
“We have found our captain in him “
“The way he has become a leader, his sense of belonging, his love for Inter – I recognize myself in him,” enthused Zanetti, Inter’s current vice-president, during a public appearance at a book launch – special praise for world champion Martinez. “We’ve found our captain in him,” said Zanetti, going beyond simply wearing the armband. “That makes me very happy”.
Last summer, the dynamic right-footer is said to have turned down a lucrative offer from Saudi Arabia, and initial talks are currently underway regarding an extension to his contract, which runs until 2026. Martinez has won the 2021 Italian championship with Inter, for whom he has scored 116 goals in 254 competitive matches, as well as two cup wins and two Super Cup victories. The Europa League (2020 against Sevilla FC) and Champions League (2023 against Manchester City) finals were both lost.