The goal is such a valued asset that it can change pronounced opinions with a definitive tone. In 2015, the current Italian coach Roberto Mancini disowned the nationalized Eder and Franco Vázquez recruited under the direction of Antonio Conte for the national team Azzurra. “The Italian team must be Italian. An Italian player deserves to play for the national team, while non-Italian players do not, even if they have Italian relatives. This is my opinion”.
Eight years later, faced with a shortage of definitive strikers, Mancini turned to Mateo Retegui (San Fernando, Argentina, 23 years old), an Italian-Argentine striker on his maternal grandfather’s side and also of Basque descent. Owned by Boca Juniors, but with 50% of the pass belonging to the modest Tigre, Retegui scored two goals in his first two games for Italy, both featuring in the starting eleven. On Thursday, against England (1-2) in Naples, he stoked Italy’s hopes of equalizing with a right-wing cross. This Sunday, against Malta (0-2), he came up from a corner kick to hit a hammer blow that opened the scoring. “He is a scorer, we were looking for him and we found him. He opened the game; It was fundamental”, praised Mancini. In the last 50 years, only Chinaglia (1972), Chiesa (1996) and Orsolini (2020) have scored two goals in their first two games for Italy.
Retegui was Mancini’s big news for this first qualifying window for Euro 2026. “Coming from Argentina and playing for the national team, or for a European club, is not easy. He is an educated, intelligent, young boy… We have confidence, but we have to give him time. He is a classic striker, I don’t want to exaggerate the comparisons… I can say that he looks like Batistuta when he arrived in Italy. You need to get to know the companions, but it won’t take long. He is very smart. It is in the attack that we have problems and they are serious. Immobile is out injured, as is Raspadori. Almost all of our strikers have played very little in recent months. Apart from Wilfred Gnonto, we have no other starter”, defended Mancini.
“The coaches of the Italian federation have been following him for a long time, as have the Milanese teams,” explained his father, Carlos Retegui, a leading figure in his country. The leafAs his father is known, he was a field hockey player and coached Terrassa and the Argentine men’s team (gold at the Rio 2016 Games), women’s team (silver at the London and Tokyo 2020 Games).
The boy followed in his footsteps and started with the stick on, but at the age of 15 he preferred to opt for his father’s other great passion, football. A friend and admirer of Diego Pablo Simeone, who met in the Olympic village at the 1996 Atlanta Games, Carlos Retegui has collaborated with the Argentine national team’s youth teams to try to apply hockey movements to soccer. In the summer of 2022, Carlos Tévez counted on him to be part of the coaching staff at Rosario Central, but he ended up not taking the step.
Before the Italian technicians started to follow him, Retegui had already caught the attention of an illustrious calcium. Francesco Torti, now engaged in re-representation work, revealed in conversation with Christian Vieri on Instagram that he had discovered in the middle of the pandemic “a player from Argentina, not a strong one; strong, strong He’s a midfielder, a striker… He’s devastating”. Totti did not reveal his name until he convinced the player and his father to be his agent. Retegui exploded at Tigre last season when he became Argentina’s top scorer with 19 goals in 25 games.
In this campaign he adds six in eight games. Totti, Boca Juniors and Tigre are rubbing their hands before the more-than-predictable move to European football this summer. “He is powerful in the run and attacks the spaces decisively, something not very common lately in attackers who emerge in Argentina. He has attracted a lot of attention from European clubs who follow him for this reason. He is right-handed, but handles the left well and with his head he affirms his height (1.86.) And a very respectable jump. It won’t be long before we see him in one of the big European leagues”, predicts a South American scout who works in several European clubs.
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