Legendary former Inter striker Diego Milito believes that current Nerazzurri star Lautaro Martinez is a top centre-forward and can continue his growth with the Nerazzurri.

Speaking to Milan-based newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport in an interview published in today’s print edition, the 42-year-old gave his views on the kind of player that Martinez is and could become, and praised his quality ahead of this evening’s Champions League clash with Real Madrid.

Martinez did not immediately become a regular in Inter’s starting eleven upon joining the club in the summer of 2018, but over his three seasons at the club he has grown in form and become one of the major attacking players at the club.

The Argentine will be expected to contribute heavily across all competitions, and Milito believes that he will be able to have a strong season.

“He has grown a lot,though not yet enough,” Milito said of Martinez. “He still has enormous potential because his strength is in his head – he has clear understanding, he listens, he wants to learn.”

He went on, “Before, he got too upset on the pitch, now he has improved even in this thanks to a top  mentality. He is on the right path now. And if before the scene was all set for Lukaku, now Lautaro is the centre of the attack – he deserves it.”

“I didn’t give him any advice even though we talk often,” Milito said of Martinez’s decision to stay at Inter. “He uses his head, he’s happy here. He seems to be renewing and I hope he stays for a long time.”

Milito believes that Martinez can form a strong partnership with Edin Dzeko, “because he has a characteristic that only grown-ups have – he knows how to put himself at the service of others. He knows how to adapt to partners quickly. This is why I see him playing well alongside Sanchez or Correa, someone that I really like.”

On Correa, Milito believes that the former Lazio man will be “A decisive weapon because he has unique characteristics, different from the others. And for me he can also be an out-and-out striker – he knows how to score, opens defenses, gets in behind. He is complete and can give Inter a lot including on European nights.”

“Nothing is the same as the Champions League and therefore you have to be at your absolute best,” he stated. “Inter are good, they can hurt Real. The minimum goal is to go through to the knockout rounds after so long, the last time it happened, I was still there! After that, try and get further, even if the competition will be very strong.”

Of Real head coach Carlo Ancelotti, Milito said, “Ancelotti transmits calm and serenity. He has always won wherever he goes, he is serious.”

Of Nerazzurri boss Simone Inzaghi he said,”I really like Inzaghi for what he has done at Lazio and for this start with Inter – he wants to play his game with players similar to those he’s worked with in the past. I see Ancelotti’s characteristics in him as well, the ability to organize.”

“The winning mentality persists despite the change on the bench,” he said of the transition from Antonio Conte to Inzaghi. “The team has started up again with the same dynamic it had under Conte – you can feel the determination, the desire to reach the goal that is the Scudetto.”

“Top of the group,” was Milito’s prediction for this year’s group stage for Inter. “They will fight for the Scudetto as wel because, despite the big departures, for me they have strengthened well – I see a real team.”

“There are many well-built squads, from Milan to Rome, without neglecting Juve who will recover, but Inter are the ones in the lead,” he said.

“I don’t think he will make mistakes,” Milito stated about Inzaghi, “he is intelligent and it is no coincidence that he continues with the tactical system. The key word is ‘management,’especially after a victory you have to know how to manage and Simone knows how to do it. For now he is not doing anything wrong – on the contrary, he seems to be very popular.”

On Inter’s difficult summer he said, “It’s hard to speak about if you don’t know all the facts – the pandemic has brought everyone to their knees and certain decisions are a forced upon you. But I liked the Inter transfer window, it has kept them at the top.”

On former Inter and current Roma boss Jose Mourinho he stated, “I would have liked to see him again with the Nerazzurri given all we have been through together. But Roma is a suitable destination for him and now his team have become a tough nut to crack for everyone.”

“In addition to skill and preparation,” he went on, “he has that special and unique touch. The ability to give enthusiasm – we can already see how the fans are all at his feet.”

Of the group chat of treble winners he said, “That’s our way of keeping in touch. So now, after each victory, we send [Mourinho] our best wishes in the chat.”

Speaking about departed striker Romelu Lukaku, Milito said that “If there is one thing you must never do, it is make a promise you cannot keep. A player like him who has given so much may choose to go elsewhere, but the fans are disappointed precisely because of those statements [of love for Inter].”

About his current life, Milito stated, “I am completely happy with my family. Three years as Racing director have been intense.”

On whether he could see a future role with Inter he said, “Things must come naturally, it makes no sense to force it. I have a cordial relationship with the club, though. I also sent a congratulatory message to Zhang after the Scudetto.”

Milito revealed that he had once been close to a move to Inter’s oponents for this evening, Real Madrid, stating that “I was close to [Real], as I was also close to PSG, but Inter for me was always the club I chose. I was at the top, I was happy, I was at San Siro, which will always be home.”