Inter Milan Vice-President Javier Zanetti has revealed just how close Lautaro Martinez had been to joining Atletico Madrid in 2018.

Zanetti looked back on the process that led to Martinez joining the Nerazzurri while speaking to the BSMT podcast, via FCInter1908.

Inter signed Martinez from Racing Club in the summer of 2018.

When the Nerazzurri brought the Argentine in, there was no doubt about his talent and potential. However, he was not yet a player with any experience in Europe.

Martinez initially was a player who largely featured from the bench.

But with each passing season that Martinez has been at Inter, he has grown in importance to the team.

This has culminated in the 26-year-old wearing the captain’s armband.

Martinez became Inter’s captain last summer, after Samir Handanovic retired from playing.

And it is certainly not just a symbolic role or a matter of Martinez’s leadership. The 26-year-old is also a driving force for Inter on the pitch.

It is hard to imagine the current Nerazzurri team without their captain.

However, as Zanetti has revealed, Martinez very nearly joined Inter to begin with.

Zanetti Reveals How Inter Signed Lautaro Martinez Ahead Of Atletico Madrid

“When we signed Lautaro, he was 90% of the way to joining Atletico,” revealed Zanetti.

“I knew from one of the agents involved.”

“I talked to [Inter Sporting Director Piero] Ausilio, and he told me that it’s a shame, because he’s been a long-time target.”

“Then a friend of mine gave me a call after a couple weeks, and asked if he could talk with us,” Zanetti continued.

“We sealed the deal with Lautaro in two nights. And then we had to get an agreement with Racing.”

Zanetti noted that “I had a great relationship with them because [former Inter striker Diego] Milito was there.”

“I told him that Ausilio would be there to close the deal, and they waited for him.”

“Ausilio wrapped up the deal in Argentina,” Zanetti continued. “And we’d already reached an agreement with Lautaro.”

“He was twenty years old at the time. We were already thinking about the future, three or four years ahead, not right away.”

The Inter Vice-President noted that “You have to have a 360-degree vision of the process.”

Zanetti said of Martinez that that “I remember a match of his where he scored a hat-trick. And even at twenty years old, he said that he was happy with the three goals – but not with his performance.”

“Because he felt that he hadn’t played well.”

“We already saw the Lautaro of today, a player who grows year on year,” Zanetti said.

“He’s a point of reference for us and we’re very happy with him,” the Vice-President went on.

He said of Martinez that “He’s a humble guy. He listens. He wants to improve, and then the results follow from that.”

“Lautaro is our captain,” noted Zanetti. “He has a sense of belonging, and we’re very happy for that.”