Inter Milan's Lautaro Martinez not daunted by No. 10 shirt
Lautaro Martinez says wearing Inter Milan's No. 10 shirt will not be a burden as he bids to make a better impact on Italian football than Gabriel Barbosa managed at the Nerazzurri.
"Gabigol" arrived in Milan to a fanfare and huge expectations, but he failed to settle and, after an equally unsuccessful loan spell with Benfica, he has since returned to his former club Santos.
Martinez has arrived in Milan with similarly lofty expectations, and these have only been fuelled by the shirt he has been given -- not that he has any qualms about it.
"Wearing the No. 10 shirt doesn't weigh down on me because I already wore it at Racing," he told a news conference in Milan. "I asked the club to also have it here. It was free and I'm very happy to be able to wear it.
"The reception I received was great. My teammates did very well in how they greeted me. There's a great group here and we're working hard with our coach to approach the season in the best way possible.
"I'll work at my best to improve, to earn a starting spot and to help my teammates. My first days here went very well. The team has strong values on a human level. This atmosphere allows you to work at your best. [Coach Luciano] Spalletti has very clear ideas so we all know what direction we must push in as we approach the challenges that await. To play in the Champions League is a dream come true, we'll fight to do our best in it."
Inter were not the only club interested in Martinez, who scored 13 goals in 21 league games for Racing last season, adding five in six Copa Libertadores appearances. However, Martinez knew he wanted to join the club of his compatriot Mauro Icardi as soon as contact was made.
"From the first moment when Inter went to Buenos Aires to speak with me, I was won over by the project," he said. "I loved the idea of playing here right from the start. Having the trust of a coach such as Spalletti was also influential. I hope to be able to make the most of my abilities to help the team.
"I had contact with other clubs but when Inter came in, there were no doubts. I spoke a lot with Diego Milito, who explained to me what it means to wear the Nerazzurri's shirt and how important this club is. He made history in these colours, it's now up to me to do well. It was also impressive to get to know a legend such as [Inter's vice-president] Javier Zanetti."
"I was already in touch with [Icardi], I thank him for all the interest he showed in my situation, he asked me right away if I needed anything."