Lionel Scaloni said playing alongside countryman Lionel Messi is better for Inter star Lautaro Martinez amid growing links to Barcelona.

Martinez has been tipped to swap Serie A side Inter for LaLiga champions Barca in the off-season following his exploits in Italy.

The Argentina international forward scored 16 goals in 31 matches across all competitions before the 2019-20 season was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As speculation grows over Martinez's future, Argentina head coach Scaloni discussed the 22-year-old.

"If he plays with Messi he is better, no doubt. Beyond that later he will have to fight for the position as he did in Inter," Scaloni told TyC Sports.

"We have to be calm. If he changes clubs, maybe he does not have to be the undisputed starter, and it will not affect us, as long as he has a number of minutes that allows him to be in force.

"He has a huge future but still has a lot to give."

With Martinez dominating headlines, Scaloni issued a reminder about Sergio Aguero's exploits for Argentina and Manchester City.

Aguero is City's all-time top scorer as he celebrated his 32nd birthday on Tuesday, while he is third on Argentina's overall goals list with 41.

"Talking so much about Lautaro, it is Sergio who is breaking all the records," added Scaloni. "That is why you have to go calmly and wait for the moment of each one."

Lautaro Martinez will have to earn his place at Barcelona if he leaves Inter, according to Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni.

Martinez has been tipped to swap Serie A side Inter for LaLiga champions Barca in the off-season following his exploits in Italy.

The Argentina international forward scored 16 goals in 31 matches across all competitions before the 2019-20 season was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Scaloni was asked about Martinez's future amid the transfer speculation and the Argentina boss told Radio La Red: "If Lautaro gets to go to Barcelona, ​​I think the coach [Quique Setien] is going to look for a way to start him, he is going to have to sacrifice and earn his place."

"Taking Lautaro out of Inter is not going to be easy… I would like Lautaro Martinez to play, to have continuity," Scaloni added.

"Lautaro has one thing that he runs for him and for his team-mate. He will be the reference striker for the future."

Martinez swapped Racing Club for Inter in 2018 and he has quickly established himself as one of the most sought-after forwards in European football.

He has scored 25 goals in total since joining Inter from Racing Club.

Lautaro Martinez partnering Lionel Messi at Barcelona would benefit Argentina but it will be tough to sign him from Inter, Albiceleste boss Lionel Scaloni acknowledges.

Barca have reportedly earmarked Martinez as the long-term replacement to Luis Suarez, who is now 33, which would see him form a mouth-watering tandem with international team-mate Messi.

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi himself last week talked up the talents of Martinez, though he was reluctant to discuss any potential deal being struck.

Martinez scored 16 goals in 31 games across all competitions this term prior to the suspension of Serie A due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Scaloni thinks his burgeoning talent would only improve playing regularly with Messi, but says Martinez is already playing for a top team who have little incentive to sell.

Speaking to RTVE, Martinez said: "Lautaro today is the fashionable striker, the one who every big team wants.

"He is already with a big team, which competes equally with other teams and it will be very difficult to get him out of there.

"If Lautaro is lucky enough to go and play with a team-mate like Messi at Barcelona, for us, the more they play together, the better.

"Lautaro is a young player with an incredible future. He is strong and has a great desire to succeed.

"I don't want to interfere, but if he does change clubs, I hope he does well."

 

Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni believes Barcelona captain Lionel Messi is comfortable at the LaLiga champions.

Messi and his future have been the topics of discussion since the Barca superstar's public row with director of football Eric Abidal.

After Abidal suggested some players were not working hard enough prior to Ernesto Valverde's sacking in January, Messi snapped back via social media and it raised doubts over his future at Camp Nou.

Scaloni, however, is not concerned about Argentina skipper and six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi – who is out of contract at the end of the 2020-21 season.

"I see him [Messi] fine," Scaloni told reporters. "The other day, against Real Betis, he was the best player in the field without scoring. He gave the assist and participated of every chance.

"He's fine, he's comfortable, he will have to decide on his future but I think he's comfortable."

"I'm not worried at all," Scaloni continued. "He's comfortable, he's comfortable at the national team and at Barcelona. Then what will come will come, I stay out of it."

Argentina finished third at the 2019 Copa America but Scaloni's side have another chance to be crowned South American champions as co-hosts of this year's tournament alongside Colombia.

Messi is still seeking his first senior title with Argentina, who were runners-up at the 2014 World Cup before losing in back-to-back Copa America finals in 2015 and 2016.

"I think the important thing is to try [to win the Copa America], that he knows we'll try and be protagonists," Scaloni added. "He [Messi] is not the only one that wants to win something with the national team, we all want to win, the coach, his teammates, so well, we'll try and let's hope we can make it."

Argentina are in Group A (South Zone) for the 2020 Copa America, along with Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and first-time guests Australia.

La Albiceleste will open the tournament against Chile in Buenos Aires on June 12.

Lionel Scaloni hopes the 2020 Copa America is not Lionel Messi's last as he eyes success with Argentina.

Argentina will open next year's tournament against Chile at El Monumental on June 12, it was revealed on Tuesday.

Scaloni hopes 32-year-old Messi, who will again be aiming to win his first senior international trophy, plays beyond the 2020 Copa.

"I don't know if it will be the last. Hopefully not," the Argentina coach told reporters.

"But Argentina need the title, more than just him. Hopefully, don't promise anything, but we'll give the maximum to reach the final."

Argentina, who last won the Copa in 1993, will also face Uruguay, Paraguay, Australia and Bolivia in Group A after their opener against Chile.

Scaloni's men beat Chile in the third-place play-off this year, in a game that saw Messi and Gary Medel sent off.

"It's a nice game to start," he said. "Anyone would have been difficult because the debut is always difficult, but this one has a special feeling.

"Chile has always been difficult for Argentina, especially in recent times. Difficult, but we are fine."

Lionel Scaloni is satisfied with Argentina's progress after a friendly draw against Uruguay on Monday.

Argentina came from behind twice to secure a 2-2 draw in Tel Aviv, where Lionel Messi's stoppage-time penalty cancelled out Luis Suarez's goal after Edinson Cavani and Sergio Aguero had struck earlier.

It extended Argentina's unbeaten run to seven matches as they continued preparations for 2022 World Cup qualifying, which begins next year.

Scaloni is pleased with Argentina's development, although the coach still sees room for improvement.

"At the level of results, we are fine. At the level of the game, it can be improved," he said, via Ole.

"The team feeling is the best we have. The important thing is that the players who play do it well. Some make a difference and others support."

Scaloni acknowledged the challenge awaiting his team, describing the CONMEBOL qualifiers as the toughest in the world.

"Now we have to think about what we did well and what we can correct. What is coming is difficult," he said.

"I spoke with people from Uruguay. It will be difficult in the qualifiers. Those in South America are the most difficult in the world.

"We have a good base."

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni lauded the attitude of his players who he feels "gave their lives for the shirt" in Friday's 1-0 win over bitter rivals Brazil.

Lionel Messi was back in the team for the first time since the Copa America after serving a four-match ban for accusing CONMEBOL of corruption.

He scored the decisive goal early on when pouncing on the rebound after seeing Alisson save his penalty a few moments after Gabriel Jesus had also failed to convert from 12 yards.

Otherwise it was a scrappy and disjointed affair, though Argentina looked considerably more threatening in the final third and were unfortunate to not add to the score in the second half.

Despite Argentina's wastefulness after the interval, Scaloni was left overjoyed with the mentality and attitude of his team.

"I liked the second half," Scaloni told reporters. "We made changes because we wanted to test for what is to come.

"The team responded – it goes beyond who plays. They give their lives for the shirt and really played well."

Argentina remain unbeaten in their five post-Copa America matches, while Brazil – who have also played five times since lifting the trophy – are winless in that period.

Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni says Mauro Icardi remains part of his plans and he will consider recalling the Paris Saint-Germain striker if he can maintain his goalscoring form. 

Icardi has not featured for Argentina since scoring in last November’s 2-1 friendly win against Mexico and is not part of their latest squad for the friendlies with Brazil and Uruguay. 

The 26-year-old was overlooked for Copa America selection earlier this year after a turbulent campaign with Inter that saw him stripped of the captaincy amid a breakdown in contract talks. 

However, Icardi has scored nine goals in 10 matches since joining PSG on loan in September and is knocking on the door for a return to the international stage. 

"He is a player we have in mind," Scaloni said at a news conference ahead of Friday's friendly with Brazil in Saudi Arabia. 

"He is playing again, picking up pace after not playing at the end of last season. 

"He is on our agenda, and not because other strikers are not doing well. At any time he can return. The doors are always open for the best."

Lionel Messi is back in Argentina's squad for their friendly double-header after serving a three-month suspension for accusing CONMEBOL officials of corruption following his side's semi-final loss to Brazil at the Copa America.

South American champions Brazil will be without Neymar for the high-profile friendly, however, as the PSG forward is yet to fully recover from a hamstring injury sustained on international duty last month.

"Having Messi is always a positive," Scaloni said. "I would have liked Neymar to be involved, too.

"For us it is a joy to have Leo because he is a big part of the group and gets along with all his team-mates. He is a player who has marked an era in football."

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