Italy coach Roberto Mancini promised changes after a difficult few months for the Azzurri was compounded by a crushing defeat to Argentina in Wednesday's Finalissima.

Argentina were comprehensive 3-0 winners at Wembley, as the CONMEBOL/UEFA 'Cup of Champions' was revived for the first time since 1993.

Lautaro Martinez, Angel Di Maria and Paulo Dybala got the goals as Lionel Messi pulled the strings, but in truth Italy were fortunate to only lose 3-0 against a hugely impressive Albiceleste.

It was only Italy's second match since their shock World Cup qualifying defeat to North Macedonia in March, with that loss preventing them from reaching Qatar 2022.

Despite the Azzurri winning Euro 2020 less than a year ago, Mancini is already looking to instigate something of a rebuild.

But he was keen to pay tribute to those who have played a key role over the past four years.

"In the first half we made two mistakes on their two goals, then they were better at keeping the ball," Mancini is quoted as saying by Sky Italia.

"They were better than us, but I must say thanks to these guys who have played in these four years.

"There is regret for the lack of qualification for the World Cup, and tonight's match was initially balanced, then they had superior quality to us.

"After this match we had in mind to change several things and we will do it. We need to find the players, put together a team that will suffer at the beginning and that in the future will be able to give us joy."

Clearly, the attack will be Mancini's primary focus in any rebuild as he rued a lack of threat going forward.

"We have great difficulty scoring at the moment, and we have to work a lot knowing that it will not be so simple and it will take time [to overcome their issues]," he continued.

"After the European Championship we struggled to score and we have to find solutions in this sense and try to be fast, but it will not be easy to put together a team that gives us short-term satisfaction even if there are good guys. We will have to make as few mistakes as possible.

"I have optimism. I like to work and train. It's true that we lost against a great Argentina team, but we must know that there will also be these moments and we must make sure that the youngest players learn quickly."

Italy now turn their attention to the Nations League. They face Germany on Saturday and again on June 14 – matches against Hungary and England are sandwiched in between.

Argentina's impressive 3-0 Finalissima win over Italy saw La Albiceleste set a national new record of 32 matches unbeaten.

Lionel Scaloni's men were sensational at Wembley, producing a dominant and rampant performance that could have seen them claim an even more one-sided victory.

Lautaro Martinez, Angel Di Maria and Paulo Dybala got the goals, while Lionel Messi pulled the strings as Argentina made something of a statement less than six months before the World Cup.

Argentina's last defeat was a 2-0 loss to bitter rivals Brazil in the semi-finals of the 2019 Copa America, but they got their revenge in the final last year, beating the Selecao 1-0 at the Maracana to clinch their first title in 28 years.

Their 32 games unbeaten is a new record for official games, though Argentina did go 33 matches without defeat under Alfio Basile – that run included two fixtures not recognised by FIFA as they were against the Rest of America and the Rest of World in 1991.

Argentina's streak is the longest currently intact in international football and leaves them just five adrift of the all-time record set by Italy themselves last year.

Argentina made an early statement of intent ahead of the World Cup with an impressively dominant 3-0 win over Italy to win the UEFA/CONMEBOL Finalissima at Wembley.

Although Italy failed to qualify for Qatar 2022, few would have expected the European champions to be so stunningly outclassed by the Copa America 2021 winners.

Much of the pre-game focus was on Giorgio Chiellini, but the last game of his distinguished international career ended at half-time with Argentina deservedly 2-0 up thanks to goals from Lautaro Martinez and Angel Di Maria.

Italy somehow prevented the inspired Lionel Messi and Di Maria adding more gloss to the scoreline, but Paulo Dybala finally got their third with the last kick of the game.

A brilliant intervention by Cristian Romero had earlier denied Andrea Belotti a simple finish in the 20th minute, with the striker then seeing a looping header saved by Emiliano Martinez a few moments later.

But Argentina soon took charge.

Messi wonderfully turned away from Giovanni Di Lorenzo and held him off before passing across goal for Martinez to tap home.

The Inter forward then turned provider on the stroke of half-time, spinning Leonardo Bonucci and feeding Di Maria, who lifted an audacious chip over the helpless Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Roberto Mancini made three changes at the break but if anything Argentina only became more dominant – Donnarumma desperately scurried back to stop a Bonucci back-pass going in, before importantly denying the excellent Di Maria twice.

Giovani Lo Celso then missed an open goal – albeit from a slightly tight angle – after great work by Messi, who subsequently tested Donnarumma twice.

But Donnarumma was eventually beaten again at the end, substitute Dybala finding the bottom-right corner after a solo Messi run terrified the Italy defence.

Lautaro Martinez does not know where Inter-linked forward Paulo Dybala will play next season but hopes it will be "where he is happy".

Dybala's contract at Juventus is expiring, making him one of the most sought-after free agents of the upcoming transfer window.

Widespread reports have suggested he is most likely to join Argentina team-mate Martinez at Inter – although the Nerazzurri striker is also the subject of transfer speculation.

But as the pair link up on national team duty, Martinez insists Dybala's club future has been set to one side.

"We didn't touch the subject," Martinez told TyC Sports. "We talk about many things, about his situation and everything, but today he is thinking about the national team.

"His future will be decided when these games are over.

"He is a player with quality, personality and I hope he plays where he feels most comfortable, where he is happy."

Martinez is also focused on his role with Argentina, looking ahead to the World Cup in Qatar later this year – the first of his Albiceleste career.

"[The World Cup] is a dream I have had since childhood," Martinez said. "With my family, I constantly talk about this – they are all football fans.

"If I think now about what could happen, anxiety comes to me. I hope we can leave a good impression.

"These are dreams you always have. First your dreams are of being a professional, then they are renewed. Today I am months away from this [dream]; I hope it can be fulfilled and I can help my team-mates."

Even before that, at the start of June, Argentina have the Finalissima against Italy at Wembley to look forward to, pitting the Copa America winners against the European champions – an eagerly awaited fixture for Italy-based Martinez, even if the Azzurri will not be in Qatar.

"It will be an important game for us because of what the opponent means, beyond the fact that they have been left out of this World Cup," he said.

"We know their characteristics, their players, they are a high-level opponent. We have a very important test ahead to see where we stand."

Simone Inzaghi said Inter still believe they can retain the Scudetto after Lautaro Martinez's brace helped the Nerazzurri beat Cagliari and take the Serie A title race to the wire.

After watching Milan beat Atalanta 2-0 at San Siro, the Nerazzurri had to win in Sardinia to avoid ceding their domestic crown to their rivals, but Martinez followed up Matteo Darmian's opener with a second-half double as Inter claimed a hard-fought 3-1 win to keep their hopes intact.

Inter have now won seven of their past eight league games, but must beat Sampdoria and hope Sassuolo defeat the Rossoneri on the final day to win their 20th top-flight title.

Inzaghi won one Serie A title during his playing career, scoring when Sven Goran Eriksson's Lazio claimed a dramatic title triumph on the final day of the 1999-00 season, beating Reggina 3-0 to overturn a two-point deficit to Juventus, who lost 1-0 to Perugia. 

The former striker says that success is proof that anything can happen on the final day, and praised his team for putting in a composed performance just days after beating Juventus to win the Coppa Italia.

"There is still one game missing, the team believes in it. We know that it has already happened, it has already happened to me," Inzaghi told his post-match press conference.

"We believe in it until the end, and we will prepare it in the best possible way. Today we had a very good game two days after celebrating a trophy. In front of us we had a Cagliari team that was playing for survival and nothing was taken for granted, but I have a great team. 

"I won a Scudetto against Lazio that I was two points behind [with one game left] and Juve lost to Perugia on the last day. In football you must never give up, we have always shown it."

Inter's win means they have taken 39 points from their 19 away games in Serie A this season, the same amount they earned when winning the title under Antonio Conte last term.

This represents the Nerazzurri's joint-third best away return in a single Serie A season (in the era of three points for a win), after they took 49 points in 2006-07 and 43 in 2019-20.

Speaking to DAZN in the immediate aftermath of the win, Inzaghi had also heaped praise on two-goal hero Martinez after his match-winning performance.

"I think he's got 25 goals this year. He has scored 13 goals in his last 13. The team put him in a position to score, he is a champion, he is very important for us and the team," he said.

"He was good because even in the period in which he was unable to score, he worked hard, and now you can see the results."

Martinez's tally of 25 goals in all competitions this season is at least eight better than any other Nerazzurri player (Edin Dzeko is second with 17), and the Argentine has become just the sixth Inter player to hit 20 goals in a Serie A season before turning 25 years of age, after Giuseppe Meazza, Sandro Mazzola, Antonio Angelillo, Ronaldo and Mauro Icardi. 

While the striker acknowledged Inter had dropped points in games they should have won this season, he too holds out hope of a dramatic final-day triumph next Sunday.

"We have lost points in matches in which we have done well, but in every competition we have played good football and done the work we wanted," the striker told DAZN.

"The points lost are behind us, now there is one last home game with our fans, and we have to finish the championship in the best way."

A Lautaro Martinez brace ensured Inter will take the Serie A title race to the final day of the season as the Nerazzurri secured a tense 3-1 win over Cagliari.

Having seen leaders Milan beat Atalanta 2-0 earlier on Sunday, the Nerazzurri knew only a win in Sardinia would keep their hopes of a second consecutive title alive.

Martinez scored twice to add to Matteo Darmian's opener as Inter went about doing just that, although they had to work for the victory after Charalampos Lykogiannis halved the arrears in the second half.

Simone Inzaghi's men have it all to do on the final day, however, needing to beat Sampdoria and hope Milan lose at Sassuolo to be crowned champions.

Ivan Perisic forced Alessio Cragno into an early save with a fierce strike before Samir Handanovic got down to his right to stop Lykogiannis' goal-bound effort during a lively start.

Inter were denied a 10th-minute opener when Milan Skriniar was adjudged to have bundled home a right-wing free-kick with his arm, but the Nerazzurri hit the front after 25 minutes when Darmian headed Perisic's fine cross into the top-left corner.

Martinez twice went close to doubling Inter's lead at the end of an entertaining first half, striking the post with a sublime left-footed volley before drawing a close-range stop from Cragno. 

The Argentine finally got his goal after 51 minutes, bringing down Nicolo Barella's long ball before firing home, only for Lykogiannis to halve the arrears two minutes later with a deflected long-range effort.

But Martinez was not done there, producing a brilliant lobbed finish from Roberto Gagliardini's pass to clinch his brace, putting Milan's celebrations on ice and deepening the hosts' relegation fears.

What does it mean? Inter take thrilling title race to the final day

Inzaghi's men ensured an absorbing Serie A title race will be decided on the final day of the season with their win, although they are relying on Sassuolo to complete a league double over Milan to give them a chance of glory.

Inter have now won seven of their last eight league games, losing the other, allowing them to keep pace with a Rossoneri side unbeaten in 15 Serie A matches (10 wins, five draws).

Outstanding Martinez passes 20-goal mark

Martinez's second-half brace proved decisive as the Argentina ace hit 21 league goals in what has been a superb individual campaign.

He is now just the sixth player in Inter's history to reach 20 goals in a Serie A season before turning 25, after Giuseppe Meazza, Sandro Mazzola, Antonio Angelillo, Ronaldo, and Mauro Icardi.

Cup hero contributes once more

Having scored an extra-time brace to fire Inter to a Coppa Italia final win over Juventus on Wednesday, Perisic was on top form again as the Nerazzurri kept their double hopes intact.

As well as scoring seven Serie A goals, the Croatian has registered seven league assists after teeing up Darmian's opener, with only Hakan Calhanoglu (11) and Barella (10) recording more for Inter this term.

Key Opta Facts:

- Inter have earned 39 Serie A points on the road this season, as many as in the previous term, which was their third-best performance in a single campaign (49 points in 2006-07 and 43 in 2019-20).
- Cagliari have ended a Serie A campaign with only three home wins for the second time in their history, after the 1999-2000 season.
- Martínez has scored the most goals in Serie A since the start of March (10).

What's next?

Inter host Sampdoria in their final game of the season next Sunday, requiring a win – and a Milan defeat at Sassuolo – to retain their title. Cagliari, meanwhile, need a win over relegated Venezia on the same day to have any chance of survival.

Samuel Eto'o has urged Inter to sign Paulo Dybala and declared "all important players" should join the Nerazzurri "sooner or later".

Dybala will leave Juventus when his contract expires at the end of next month and the Argentina forward has been linked with Inter.

Former Inter striker Eto'o believes Dybala would be a great acquisition for Simone Inzaghi's side, who are two points behind city rivals Milan with two games to play in the battle for the Serie A title.

Cameroonian Football Federation president Eto'o also stressed the importance of Inter keeping Dybala's compatriot Lautaro Martinez.

He told La Gazzetta dello Sport ahead of the Coppa Italia final between Inter and Juve on Wednesday: "I say that all important players must play for Inter sooner or later and Dybala is more than important.

"Lautaro Martinez? He has done things very important for Inter and I hope he will continue in the future.

"I wish him a great career, without injuries here with us."

Lautaro Martinez struck twice as Inter recovered from two goals down to beat Empoli 4-2 in a thrilling contest and climb above fierce rivals Milan at the top of Serie A.

Empoli had failed to win any of their previous nine away league games yet took the lead inside five minutes at San Siro through Andrea Pinamonti, who is on loan from Inter.

Inter were two goals behind when Kristjan Asllani fired in, but Martinez struck after ex-Milan man Simone Romagnoli had put into his own net to level up before half-time.

Martinez completed the comeback in the 64th minute and Alexis Sanchez added a late fourth as Inter moved one point above Milan, who travel to Hellas Verona on Sunday.

Pinamonti slid in to meet Szymon Zurkowski's cross and give Empoli an early lead, the striker proving true to his word by not celebrating the goal.

Asllani had a goal ruled out for an offside infringement but, after Inter had a penalty awarded and then ruled out by VAR, the youngster brilliantly controlled a pass and fired home.

But Romagnoli's own goal when trying to cut out Federico Dimarco's cross gave Inter hope and Martinez guided in a first-time shot five minutes later to wipe out Empoli's lead.

Martinez's second arrived following a sustained spell of Inter pressure, the Argentina striker volleying past Guglielmo Vicario after Riccardo Fiamozzi only half-cleared the ball.

Sanchez then added some gloss to the scoreline in added time when converting a pass from fellow substitute Edin Dzeko.

Manchester United reportedly have a clear runway to sign West Ham midfielder and England international Declan Rice in the upcoming transfer window.

Rice, 23, has emerged as one of England's brightest young talents after being released from Chelsea's youth setup back in 2014.

He is expected to command a transfer fee in excess of the £100million Jack Grealish was signed for by Manchester City in a British record – but United may not be engaged in a bidding war.

 

TOP STORY – RED DEVILS LOOM AS RICE'S SOLE ENGLISH SUITOR

ESPN are reporting that United will not be facing competition from fellow Premier League clubs in the pursuit of Rice.

Sources have allegedly claimed the goal is to make Rice into a "modern day version of [Paul] Ince", who helped ignite the rise of legendary boss Alex Ferguson with his arrival from West Ham in 1989.

City are said to be using their resources on Erling Haaland; Chelsea are hampered by their ownership situation and the need to replace Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Romelu Lukaku; and Liverpool would prefer to wait for Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham at a cheaper price.

Despite a lack of bidders to drive up Rice's price, West Ham are reportedly firm on their £100m-plus valuation.

 

ROUND-UP

– Everton would accept a £50m fee for Brazilian striker Richarlison, and are confident of getting such an offer, according to Football Insider.

– According to ESPN, Milan and Juventus are the leaders in the race to sign United's Jesse Lingard.

– Sport are reporting Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves has chosen Barcelona over Premier League clubs United and Arsenal.

– Lazio's Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is said to be for sale for a €80m price-tag, with Sky Sport claiming United and Paris Saint-Germain are the leading suitors.

Arsenal have renewed their interest in Inter striker Lautaro Martinez, per The Times. 

Inter bounced back from their shock defeat to Bologna with a 2-1 win away to Udinese that ensured Milan's lead at the Serie A summit was trimmed back to two points.

Stefano Pioli's side last week usurped Inter at the top of the table and then clinched a late 1-0 win over Fiorentina earlier on Sunday, but the Nerazzurri responded with a professional showing in Udine.

Ivan Perisic and Lautaro Martinez scored Inter's goals in the first half to give them a commanding lead, with the hosts offering little attacking threat.

The champions continued to dominate after the break without creating a great deal, and although Udinese pulled one back out of the blue through Ignacio Pussetto, Simone Inzaghi's side completed the job.

Inter looked sharp at the start and that translated to an early lead as Perisic met Federico Dimarco's corner delivery with a glancing header that beat Marco Silvestri at his near post.

The visitors looked to have wasted a chance to double their lead just past the half-hour mark when Martinez's close-range chip was saved by Silvestri, but Pablo Mari fouled Edin Dzeko as he attempted to convert on the rebound.

Martinez's subsequent penalty hit the post and then Silvestri before allowing the Argentinian a simple finish following up.

Clear-cut chances were more of a rarity in the second half until Udinese forced a tense finish through Pussetto, who bundled over the line after Samir Handanovic saved Gerard Deulofeu's free-kick after 72 minutes.

But Inter successfully protected their one-goal lead to seal three precious points in the title race.

Nicola Sansone scored a late winner as Inter relinquished their grasp on the Scudetto and failed to return to the Serie A summit after a 2-1 defeat at Bologna on Wednesday.

Milan regained top spot in the league with late victory at Lazio on Sunday and Inter made a good response in their game in hand at Stadio Renato Dall'Ara when Ivan Perisic struck after just three minutes.

Marko Arnautovic restored parity against his former side 25 minutes later, though, and Sansone profited from an Ionut Radu mistake with nine minutes remaining to seal an unlikely victory.

Defeat left Inter two points behind leaders Milan with four games left to play as the neighbours battle for the title.

Perisic blasted Inter into an early lead in expert fashion, nutmegging Musa Barrow before powering a left-footed thunderbolt into the top-right corner.

A stinging drive from Federico Dimarco tested Lukasz Skorupski, before Lautaro Martinez wastefully fired over a presentable rebound to double the lead.

Arnautovic then levelled things up by heading Barrow's left-wing cross into the bottom-right corner, while Denzel Dumfries spurned a headed chance from Perisic's centre at the other end.

Dimarco blazed over after the interval and twice tamely found Skorupski's hands when unmarked from the edge of the area, before the Bologna goalkeeper denied Milan Skriniar's goal-bound header.

Inzaghi sent on forwards Edin Dzeko and Alexis Sanchez in search of a late winner, but it was starting striker Martinez who headed over Hakan Calhanoglu's corner.

Radu then handed Bologna victory as he missed a simple Perisic pass backwards, with Sansone converting a simple tap in to punish the Inter goalkeeper.

What does it mean? Inter falter in Scudetto charge

Reigning champions Inter were unbeaten in 15 previous visits to Bologna in Serie A and dominated once more but were punished for failing to make their dominance pay against Miroslav Tanjga's side.

Indeed, the visitors fired 26 shots to Bologna's five, but the profligate nature of the Nerazzurri came back to haunt Simone Inzaghi's side. Inter will now have to rely on leaders Milan slipping up in their last four games to overturn the two-point deficit.

Awesome Arnautovic

Arnautovic came back to thwart his former side, with his first-half header dragging Bologna back into the contest.

The Austria international has scored 13 goals in Serie A this season, his highest tally in a single campaign across Europe's top five leagues.

Miserable Martinez

Martinez had scored four goals in three games across all competitions, including a Coppa Italia semi-final brace against Milan on Tuesday, but failed to leave his mark at Bologna.

The Argentina international squandered a great first-half opening, one of a game-high six shots he attempted, though the striker only found the target with one of those.

What's next?

Inter will look to respond in their title charge when they visit Udinese on Sunday, while Bologna travel to Roma on the same day.

Inter went back to the top of the Serie A table with a routine 3-1 win against Roma at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on Saturday.

Goals from Denzel Dumfries, Marcelo Brozovic and Lautaro Martinez took the Nerazzurri to victory, continuing their excellent record against the team from the Italian capital, despite a late strike from Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

It was not the result or performance that former Inter coach Jose Mourinho will have been looking for, with the defeat coming as a big blow to the Giallorossi's hopes of European qualification.

Simone Inzaghi will have been very pleased with what he saw from his team, who move a point ahead of Milan in the race for the Scudetto having played the same number of games, with their city rivals facing Lazio in Rome on Sunday.

Inter took the lead just before the half-hour mark as some neat play from the home side saw Hakan Calhanoglu play a through ball to Dumfries, who ran onto it like a striker to slide the opener past Rui Patricio.

It was 2-0 just 10 minutes later as Brozovic found himself on the left side of the penalty area, before cutting inside Gianluca Mancini and firing into the far top corner of the net.

The third arrived early in the second half as a neat ball from Nicolo Barella found Martinez, whose shot was parried behind for a corner, but the Argentine headed home the resulting outswinging delivery from Calhanoglu.

There was nearly a calamitous fourth as a cross from the right was helped back to Patricio by Rick Karsdorp, and realising he could not pick the ball up, the Portugal international urgently kicked the ball away before Joaquin Correa could take advantage.

Mkhitaryan fired in a consolation past Samir Handanovic from just inside the box with five minutes remaining but it was too little too late for the visitors.

What does it mean? Nerazzurri look good for title run-in

This was a surprisingly comfortable win for Inter, coming up against a Roma side that had not been beaten in 12 Serie A matches, the longest unbeaten streak for the Giallorossi in a single league campaign since May 2016 (17 under Luciano Spalletti).

However, the ease with which they took a two-goal lead allowed them to manage the game from there, and in truth the visitors gave them very few problems.

Inter remain unbeaten in their last 10 Serie A matches against Roma (W4 D6). The last side to reach 10 straight matches without defeat against them in the competition was Milan between 1988 and 1996 (17).

Title credentials on show again

When Inter were beaten 2-0 at home by Liverpool in the Champions League and then again by Sassuolo in the league in late February, things looked bleak for Inzaghi's side.

However, they have gone unbeaten in 11 games in all competitions since then, and have won their last five, sealing a place in the Coppa Italia final and top spot in Serie A, for now.

Inter a special problem for Mourinho

Returning to one of his former clubs where he enjoyed so much success was meant to be a pleasure for the self-proclaimed "special one", but it was yet another day of misery for him.

Mourinho took charge of Inter for 76 Serie A games between 2008 and 2010, averaging 2.2 points per game. After this defeat, the Nerazzurri are the only team against which the Portuguese has lost 100 per cent of his matches against (among sides he has faced more than once in the competition).

What’s next?

Inter travel to Bologna on Wednesday for more Serie A action, while Roma head to England to face Leicester City in their Europa Conference League semi-final first leg on Thursday.

Lautaro Martinez's superb double fired Inter into the Coppa Italia final against Milan on Tuesday, as they ran out 3-0 victors at San Siro.

The Argentina international kept the Nerazzurri on course for a potential domestic double, after a goalless first leg last month set up a winner-takes-all clash this week.

With the Supercoppa Italia already secured against Juventus and Milan merely two points ahead with a game out of hand, Inter could yet complete a clean sweep of domestic honours.

Simone Inzaghi claimed a maiden Derby della Madonnina win with the result, and his side will now wait to discover if they face holders Juventus or Fiorentina.

With defeat leaving Stefano Pioli and his side with just the Scudetto left to fight for, though, the stage is now set for a thrilling conclusion to the Serie A season too.

The whistle for kick-off had barely sounded before Inter struck, Martinez volleying Matteo Darmian's neat cross home near the penalty spot.

Such an early goal forced Milan onto the offensive, with Rafael Leao and Alexis Saelemaekers going closest in response.

Frenetic closing exchanges to the first half saw Ivan Perisic make a goal-saving clearance on the line, before the Nerazzurri scored effectively in the next passage.

Following Marcelo Brozovic's release in transition, Martinez dinked Joaquin Correa's throughball over Mike Maignan for a second to double the lead just before half-time, and it became a mountain for Milan to climb.

The Rossoneri continued to rally after the interval and critically had Ismael Bennacer's goal disallowed, with Pierre Kalulu ruled offside. From there the air went out of the game and when Martinez bowed out with 20 minutes to go, it felt like the game was already over, even before Robin Gosens slid home a third to seal the deal.

What does it mean? Inter move towards complete collection

After dethroning Juventus' decade-long hold on Serie A last term, the Nerazzurri now have the chance to take the Bianconeri's lone remaining honour from them after victory over Milan.

It is 11 years since they last reached the final, when they claimed a 3-1 victory over Palermo to lift the trophy - and Inzaghi, a prior winner in 2019 with Lazio, will have his eyes on repeating that success, whoever they face.

Martinez continues fast start streak

After airing his grievances over discussions about his future following victory against Spezia on Friday, it was another superb reminder of the Argentine's talents at San Siro.

It took him less than 200 seconds to break open the Milan defence - a speedy return that extends a streak that has seen him involved in the last three Derby della Madonnina goals scored during the opening five minutes.

Milan wayward once more in front of goal

For a team tucked into the thick of a battle for the Scudetto, it has been remarkable that not a single player has broken into double figures on the goalscorer charts this season in Serie A.

That has in part been to Milan boasting a wealth of players who can find the back of the net - except, that prowess deserted them on Tuesday, with Rafael Leao the only one of their squad to muster more than one shot on target.

What's next?

Inter will welcome Roma to San Siro for a crucial Serie A clash on Saturday, while Milan travel to the capital to face Lazio on Sunday.

Lautaro Martinez was very close to joining Barcelona from Inter Milan two years ago.

The Blaugrana and the Argentina international had reached a personal agreement, but the financial consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic scuppered any possibility for the former to make any transfer happen.

As ever, though, circumstances in football change and according to reports, they have changed in a way that would allow Barca to finally get the Martinez deal over the line.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA IN FRAME FOR LAUTARO

Barcelona are back in the running to sign Inter's Lautaro Martinez, according to reports from Sport.

The 24-year-old is increasingly likely to leave the reigning Serie A champions, but it appears the club would be willing to lower their asking price in exchange for players as part of a package deal.

Inter have shown interest in Miralem Pjanic and Memphis Depay, two players who appear to be surplus to requirements in a rebuild under Xavi at the Catalan giants.

Martinez, who has provided 15 goals and three assists in 28 league appearances this season, is seen as a more affordable alternative to Erling Haaland and Robert Lewandowski.

 

ROUND-UP

– Liverpool are eyeing Aberdeen right-back Calvin Ramsey to provide depth for Trent Alexander-Arnold, the Sun reports.

Paris Saint-Germain are ready to part ways with Mauricio Pochettino in order to hire Zinedine Zidane as their head coach, per Le Parisien.

– Corriere dello Sport is reporting Roma would consider an offer of €60million (£49.6m) for highly-rated 22-year-old Nicolo Zaniolo, as interest from Serie A and Premier League clubs looms.

– Juventus are prepared to offer for Chelsea's Jorginho, with the Turin giants seeking to bolster their midfield next season, according to Tuttosport.

– Chelsea are willing to let 28-year-old striker Romelu Lukaku go with Inter and PSG interested, per 90Min.

Lautaro Martinez admits he feels irritated by constant speculation over his Inter future, after the forward helped seal a 3-1 win over Spezia on Good Friday.

The Argentine struck in the second half to help confirm a crucial three points for the Serie A champions, moving them back to the summit – temporarily at least – ahead of rivals Milan.

Yet with his contract due to expire next year, talk over an impending exit has dogged Martinez for much of the season, with the striker starting on the bench at Stadio Alberto Picco.

Speaking afterwards, Martinez acknowledged that discussion over his next move is something that bugs him, alongside accusations that he has not put the effort in during the 2021-22 season.

"People talk a lot and I don’t like it," he said. "I’ve always given my best for Inter and I don’t like certain voices.

"I try to give my all, obviously I don’t like being on the bench, but when I entered I gave my all for Inter which is what counts here.

"I have always been calm, I work for the team, to lend a hand to my teammates, I am focused on my work and I don’t listen to everything they talk about.

"I think about my family, those who love me and Inter, so I always have to give my best."

Victory for Inter – though relatively unconvincing, despite overwhelming possession, and then given a late scare by a response from the hosts – keeps them in the thick of the title race.

It will give an extra charge to an already hot derby encounter with Milan when the two sides meet in the Coppa Italia semi-finals on Tuesday.

Martinez believes Simone Inzaghi's side looked to have turned a corner after dropping crucial points earlier in the new year, and stressed that their destiny is now of their own making.

"[We're] feeling good," he added. "We are doing a great job, we have lost some important points.

"We have now recovered and have everything in our hands. The path is still long, we have to recover and think about Tuesday."

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