Pressure from the media
Roberto Mancini first phoned his former Lazio team-mate, Juan Sebastian Veron, now vice-president of the Estudiantes (Argentina) club, to consult with Retegui. After that, he immediately sent his son Andrea to fly to Buenos Aires to watch the striker play for Tigre with his own eyes, as well as connect with the Retegui family.
After Retegui was suddenly called up to the Italy team to prepare for the EURO 2024 qualifying round, the media scrutinized him as carefully as through a microscope.
“Retegui is a typical striker,” Mancini told reporters. “I see a lot of people comparing him to German Denis (former Napoli striker, also known as ‘The Tank’)”.
“He reminds me of Batistuta when I first came to Italy,” Mancini continued. “I still remember those days very clearly.”
Mancini’s comments are somewhat surprising when these days, coaches tend to avoid directly mentioning players personally, not to mention exaggerating things on social networks.
Immediately a series of problems were raised against Retegui. Is he really as talented as the compliments claim? Why didn’t coach Lionel Scaloni once call him up to the Argentina national team? The defending champion is so talented that he doesn’t need a striker who has scored 25 goals in the domestic league since 2022? Or as to why Retegui, who turns 24 next month, still only plays in Argentina? With scouts, he seems to be too old to come to Europe, even though as soon as he arrived in the boot-shaped country, rumors of contact with Inter quickly appeared.
But above all, his current partner in attack at Tigre, Facundo Colidio, is a loan contract from… Inter. The blue and black striped football team bought Colidio when he was a teenager, but he is now 23 years old. Colidio is still not ready to return to Serie A, is Retegui better?
Pressure from predecessors
The comparison with Gabriel Batistuta seems to be just Mancio’s way of instilling confidence in the 23-year-old, who has just arrived in Italy for 3 days, does not speak the local language and of course has no relatives.
Despite a lot of pressure, he eventually left the field of Diego Armando Maradona with his first goal in the debut of the Thien Thanh shirt. It’s been four and a half years since Bologna winger Riccardo Orsolini did the same, but he soon fell into oblivion.
Under Roberto Mancini’s reign, there were countless trials for the striker position. Until late last year, it seemed Giacomo Raspadori was the answer. Before that was Gianluca Scamacca. Further up are Ciro Immobile and Andrea Belotti, and a promising short stint with Moise Kean and veteran Fabio Quagliarella. Even the Brazilian-born goalscorer, Joao Pedro, one-time owner of Cagliari, was also given a try.
Mateo Retegui is the latest name full of skepticism, but yesterday morning against Malta again he opened fire to open a 2-0 victory. The initial questioning and suspicious eyes have gradually turned to hope and admiration…
Since 1968, Italy has only had a player to score in the first two official matches
After scoring in a 1-2 defeat to England on his debut, Mateo Retegui continued to fire when he opened the scoring in a 2-0 victory over Malta. The last time an Italian player did something like this was 55 years ago. Interestingly, they were also scored in the EURO qualifier when Pierino Prati scored against Bulgaria on 6 and 20 April 1968, respectively.