Zanetti: ‘Messi was never close to joining Inter, Lautaro is a point of reference’

by | Dec 3, 2021 21:30

Inter Vice-President Javier Zanetti revealed Lionel Messi was ‘never close’ to joining the Nerazzurri and believes Lautaro Martinez will be ‘a protagonist’ at the 2022 World Cup.

The Nerazzurri legend spoke to ESPN and was asked about the rumours that linked Messi to San Siro before the Argentine talisman decided to join Paris Saint-Germain over the summer.

“No, never,” Zanetti said when he was asked if Messi was close to joining the Nerazzurri. “The truth is that we have never been close to signing him.

“After the pandemic, the club was in a complicated situation from an economic point of view. Furthermore, no one thought that Leo could really leave Barcelona, it was a surprise for everyone.

“I’m happy for him, I met him recently in Paris and hugged him. He wanted this moment more than anyone else and he deserved it.”

Messi was recently awarded the Ballon d’Or for the seventh time, but Zanetti believes Inter have the next Argentine superstar in their squad.

Lautaro: ‘A great year with Argentina’

Zanetti revealed he pictured Lautaro’s growth at San Siro since the first day he joined the club and believes the 23-year-old will be one of the stars at Qatar 2022.

“I remember very well when we signed him,” Zanetti added. “When you buy a young man, you don’t have to focus on the present, on how he is at that moment, but have a vision of how he will be in the next three, four or five years.

“Guess how he could grow. We are very happy with Lautaro, his maturation process is very good, after some ups and downs and a period of adaptation, he has found his balance.

“We are happy for his present and his future with us, he will be an important name at the next World Cup, a protagonist.”

epa06171663 Former Argentinian soccer player Javier Zanetti smiles before the 19th Elite Club Coaches Forum at the UEFA Headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, 30 August 2017. EPA-EFE/JEAN-CHRISTOPHE BOTT

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