“We have the jewel of Argentine football & he’s worth more than $20 million,” Racing Club president Víctor Blanco told TyC Sport hours before overseeing a contract extension for Lautaro Martínez, which will run until June 2020 but far more importantly double the talented striker’s release clause.
Blanco’s assessment of the academy product is by no means exaggeration and as one of the most exciting prospects in South America, a number of European clubs have already made their interest known.
With a previous release clause of around $9 million, Racing had been running the risk of losing Martínez for a massively under-valued price but despite rumours that Atlético Madrid had already completed a deal, the striker had maintained that he would remain at the club into 2018 and wouldn’t leave for the knock-down fee.
Resisting the temptation to jump to Europe, Martínez has signed an improved deal that will increase his wages, run until June 2020 and ensure that Racing see Blanco’s expected figure of $20 million.
Lautaro, de Racing de verdad: mejora en el contrato y cabeza en la Libertadores. 💪💪💪
— Racing Club (@RacingClub) January 11, 2018
“I always said that I wanted to stay and here I am. I want to fight for the Copa Libertadores,” Martínez told the club’s website after putting pen to paper.
Racing are once more in the Copa Libertadores for 2018 and Martínez will be vital to their hopes of reaching the latter stages. Víctor Blanco will now have the 20-year-old until at least June, by which point the group stage would be complete, but should Racing still be going in the tournament the club would hope to be able to negotiate a stay until the end of 2018 with any prospective buyer.
Martínez’s strike rate of 13 goals in 33 appearances for Racing doesn’t capture his importance to the current side given that this figure is heavily diluted by early sub appearances. Since returning from a metatarsal injury this season, El Toro has scored four in six and provides far more than merely goals.
A lethal finisher of all types of goals, Martínez’s movement and intelligence around the penalty box creates the minute spaces with which he can finish off both feet and his head. A willing runner into the channels, Toro’s strength makes him almost impossible to knock off the ball and his underrated link-up play and passing can create opportunities for his strike partner.
Quick, strong, tenacious and a natural goal scorer, Racing have done some astute business in tying Martínez down to a new deal and while supporters at the Cilindro may not have long left to enjoy their current number ten, La Academia will at least get somewhere near his value.