Inter Milan’s Argentinian forward Lautaro Martinez reacts during a training session on June 5, 2023 at the club’s training ground in Appiano Gentile, north of Milan, as part of a Media Day, five days ahead of Inter Milan’s UEFA Champions League final against Manchester City. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)
Lautaro Martinez said Friday that he is hoping to make it a perfect season by winning the Champions League with Inter Milan six months after World Cup glory with Argentina.
The 25-year-old will pair up with either Edin Dzeko or Romelu Lukaku in attack as his team face Manchester City in Istanbul as big underdogs.
Martinez, who was also recently married, is in hot form coming into Saturday’s final, with 11 goals in his last 13 matches helping Inter secure a top-four spot in Serie A, win the Italian Cup and reach the biggest game in club football.
And the man they call ‘The Bull’ is keen to celebrate another major win in what has been a hugely positive campaign, with 28 goals in all competitions and three trophies to his name.
“I think they (the World Cup and Champions League) are the two most important finals you can play, the only thing that changes is the shirt you’re wearing,” Martinez told reporters.
“The sensations are the same, as is the desire to get there. It’s the result of our work throughout year. We’re at the final and we need to be ready for the fans and the club.
“We know that Manchester City are a very tough team to take on given their individual and collective qualities. We’re ready to work hard and counteract what they can do to give ourselves an advantage.
“It’s definitely been a very positive season for me…. six months ago I played in the World Cup and now I’m facing Manchester City in the Champion League final. I’m delighted with how this season has gone, how I have done and I hope we can finish it in best way possible.”
– ‘Special match’ –
Hakan Calhanoglu is dreaming of lifting the Champions League trophy on home turf as the Turkey captain is set to start in Inter’s midfield.
The 29-year-old will become the first Turkish player to win Europe’s top club competition should Inter stun heavy favourites City.
He will be lining up against Germany midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, the descendent of Turkish immigrants who chose to represent the country of his birth.
“I’m very happy and proud to be playing the final in my home county. I’m sure my country and people are behind me, and I hope as a Turkish player I can lift the trophy,” said Calhanoglu.
“It’s a special match, playing in Istanbul is different for me. I’d like to enjoy this moment because it might not ever come along again.
“I know that my people are with me… I think it’s more import for them that I win than Ilkay as I’d be only Turkey player to win the Champions League.”