Lautaro Martínez. Remember the name. If you haven’t heard already, he’s the star striker for Racing Club tearing up the Superliga right now. On Sunday he scored three of la Academia’s four goals as they put Huracán to the sword in a brilliant home performance. Overall he has nine goals and two assists in 13 appearances in all competitions this season.
Argentina national team coach Jorge Sampaoli was at the Estadio Presidente Perón on Sunday to see the Bahía Blanca native. Yesterday, Perfil reported the man in charge of la Selección would include Martínez in his squad for Argentina’s two pre-World Cup test drives against Italy and Spain.
Competition is fierce for attacking spots in Argentina’s roster for the summer. Places for Sergio Agüero (Manchester City) and Gonzalo Higuaín (Juventus) are more or less assured, but Mauro Icardi (Inter Milan), Darío Benedetto (Boca Juniors) and even Carlos Tevez (Boca Juniors) are all options for a final slot. Plus Martínez, who has now shot to the front of the queue with his electrifying performance this weekend.
Tevez, now 34 years old and a controversial figure due to his “holiday” in China last year, weighed in on the rapid rise of Martínez with more than a little bit of disbelief. “In one home game he plays well, scores three goals and now he’s in the World Cup,” he said. “Sometimes I just don’t get it.”
And Sampaoli isn’t the only one who’s taken notice. On Tuesday, Racing rejected a reported 20€ million bid from Inter Milan for their master goal-scorer. This comes immediately after Racing re-negotiated the 20-year-old’s contract in preparation for such interest from European clubs, but the amount still triggers the contract’s release clause, so if Martínez chose to leave Racing would be powerless to stop him. He would hypothetically replace fellow Argentine striker Mauro Icardi, who looks likely to leave the club.
The game week’s biggest match-up between league leaders Boca Juniors and San Lorenzo ended in a 1-1 tie, which keeps the Xeneize six points clear at the top of the table. Elsewhere, Estudiantes beat Newell’s Old Boys in a 4-2 goal-fest; River Plate got back to winning ways with a 2-0 win over Olimpo that included an incredible solo goal by Ignacio Scocco; and Racing crushed Huracán, eight places higher in the table, 4-0. In a trio of 1-0 scorelines toward the top of the standings, Talleres and Independiente won, while Unión lost.
Find the whole week's results here, and the league table here.
Lionel Messi was rested in Barcelona's (Spain, first) 1-1 tie with local rivals Espanyol (15th). They remain nine points ahead of Atlético Madrid.
Éver Banega was (thankfully) not in the 18 for Sevilla's (Spain, sixth) embarrassing 5-1 loss to Eibar (seventh).
Sergio Agüero played a full game but did not score in Machester City's (England, first) 1-1 with overachieving minnows Burnley (seventh).
Érik Lamela came on in the 71st minute but had little influence in Tottenham's (England, fifth) 2-2 tie with Liverpool (third).
Marcos Rojo earned a clean sheet at the centre of the Manchester United (England, second) defence in a 2-0 win over Huddersfield Town (19th). Sergio Romero was, as always, United’s backup goalkeeper.
Ángel Di María and Javier Pastore both started but did not finish Paris Saint Germain’s (France, first) 3-0 win over Lille (18th).
Gonzalo Higuaín scored a hat trick in Juventus' (Italy, second) 7-0 demolition of Sassuolo (16th). Paulo Dybala was not in the squad.
Ezequiel Lavezzi and Javier Mascherano play for Hebei China Fortune (China), which begins its season in the Chinese Super League in March.