Javier Zanetti predicts bright future ahead for Lautaro Martinez

Argentine legend Javier Zanetti has predicted a bright future ahead for Lautaro Martinez, who has recently become a regular feature with the national team. The 21-year-old was a regular starter for the nation during the recent Copa America tournament where he contributed two goals from four appearances.

In a report covered by ESPN, Zanetti said that he was impressed with the performances of Martinez at the Copa America and believes the 21-year-old could evolve into a crucial figure for the country in years to come, he told: “I liked the Copa America that Lautaro had. Let’s not forget that he’s still only 21 years old and we are talking about an Argentina future which involves Lautaro and other kids who did really well. We get the feeling that we have a positive future.”

Billy Sharp insists Sheffield United promotion ends Carlos Tevez saga

Sheffield United captain Billy Sharp has said that his team’s promotion to the Premier League should put an end to the Carlos Tevez saga. The Blades were previously relegated from the top-flight during the 2006/07 season after the Hammers beat the drop through a Tevez winner at Manchester United on the final day.

Speaking to reporters, Sharp said that the Blades return to the Premier League should erase some of the bitterness associated with Tevez’s winner for the Hammers, he told: "I actually really liked Tevez as a player and, obviously, that hurt when that happened. But that's forgotten about now and we are back in the top flight. I'm sure the games against West Ham will be fiery ones anyway and that will be brought back up again, but for me it's forgotten. I have no grudges against Tevez. I'm a Sheffield lad and a Sheffield United fan and to be able to play in the Premier League with this club will be unbelievable.”

Kylian Mbappe fancies Barcelona star to secure the Ballon d’Or accolade

France international Kylian Mbappe has backed Lionel Messi to secure the Ballon d’Or this year despite Barcelona’s shock elimination at the semi-final stage of the Champions League. The Argentina international has been splendid form with 50 goals in all competitions but he has the chance of ending the season on a high with a League and Cup double.

Speaking at a ceremony where he was presented with the Ligue 1 Player of the Year, Mbappe had no doubts when asked about the favourite for the next Ballon d’Or. He said: "Messi. Despite the elimination, it does not change anything.He is the number one. He has shown he was the best player this year. This year will take us up to December but I'm not worried about him."

Carlos Puyol heaps praise on Barcelona star Lionel Messi

Barcelona legend Carlos Puyol has heaped praise on Lionel Messi amid his consistent performances for the Blaugrana through the years. The Argentina international recently helped the Blaugrana reach the semi-final stage of the Champions League and Puyol has been amazed with the attacker’s consistency despite approaching the latter stages of his career.

He told Goal.com: “He is playing at an incredible level. For me, he is the best ever player in the history of the game. He has shown that season after season and you can see how his game has evolved, all the things he now does. And you can see he's improving every year with new attributes he has brought to his game. He has improved in every way and he is taking a step forward on a personal level. He has always been a leader on the field but now, you can see that he is a leader on and off the pitch.”

Chris Smalling reacts to Lionel Messi’s reaction after nasty collision

Manchester United defender Chris Smalling has said that Barcelona star Lionel Messi had no concerns with the accident challenge where he suffered a bruised nose. The Argentina international found himself bleeding through the nose after an unintended collision with Smalling and this somewhat hampered his performance levels on the field.

Speaking after the 1-0 defeat to Barcelona, Smalling revealed that he had a chat with the Argentine regarding the same and the forward had no concerns knowing that the collision was accidental, he said: “Yeah we spoke after. I didn’t realise at the time actually that I had caught him like that. But after the game we had a brief chat, shook hands and he said he knew it was an accident.”

Argentina manager confirms Lionel Messi will feature at Copa America

Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni has assured that Lionel Messi will take part for the national team during the summer’s Copa America in Brazil. The 31-year-old recently witnessed a disappointing return to competitive action with Argentina as they suffered an embarrassing 3-1 defeat at the hands of Venezuela.

The Barcelona attacker has since been ruled out of the Morocco game with a groin problem but the injury won’t keep him sidelined for more than a few days. Speaking to reporters, Scaloni has now confirmed that Messi will most certainly feature in the squad for the Copa America in the summer, given he has the drive to perform for the national side, he said: "Leo will be in Copa America. It is evident he will be. He showed maximum will here and we see he is very driven. When the match against Venezuela finished, we talked about the match, not about what is to come. We will work to get a better team."

Inter Milan boss admits the club took a tough decision on Mauro Icardi

Inter Milan manager Luciano Spalletti has acknowledged that it was a tough decision to strip Mauro Icardi from the captain’s armband. The Argentine has been the skipper of the San Siro side for the past three-and-half seasons but he has been ousted from the duties amid his poor run of form and contract dispute with the club.

Speaking to reporters, Spalletti said that it was not easy to strip Icardi from the captaincy but the club had to do so with his current situation at the club, he said: “It was a difficult and painful decision, we all know his worth. We made it together with all of the components of the club and it was done exclusively for the good of Inter and of the team. There are some things concerning the player that had to be worked out. He was disappointed, he was upset. It was difficult to tell him... These things embarrass the team, of which he was captain, and the club.”

Mauro Icardi’s agent offers support amid criticism from Inter Milan supporters

Mauro Icardi’s agent and wife Wanda Nara has offered her support towards the Argentine striker amid his recent scoring crisis. The Argentina international started the campaign with a consistent scoring run and this included a couple of late winners including one in the San Siro derby against arch-rivals AC Milan.

However, his scoring touch has deserted him over the past six matches and this has recently generated criticism from the faithful, who are expectant of the Argentine to deliver on a consistent basis. Amidst this, Nara has come in the defence of his husband by indicating that the Argentine has remained committed to the team’s cause during the good and bad times.
“There are captains who pose proud when they win, there are captains who abandon the boat before it sinks but there are few captains who remain in hard times, even when many believe that they are about to sink. You are one of those captains who struggles on until they resurface,” she posted on her official Twitter account.

Borussia Dortmund sign highly-rated Argentine defender

Borussia Dortmund has successfully completed the signing of young Argentine defender Leonardo Balerdi from Boca Juniors. The teenager was initially expected to join the club at the end of the season but they decided to fast-track the move after the recent injury to Manuel Akanji, who has been crucial at the heart of the club’s defence.

“The transfer of Leonardo Balerdi is one with potential which was initially planned for the summer,” Zorcwas quoted as saying by the club’s official website. “Leonardo is an intelligent, strong and powerful central defender who is also powerful in the air. We are happy that he opted for us and that his talent will help us in the future.”

Carlos Tevez insists he wants to play in another final for Boca Juniors

Argentine superstar Carlos Tevez has stressed that he has no plans of retiring from the beautiful game despite him on the wrong side of the recent Copa Liberatores final. The veteran was only called off the bench in added extra game of Boca Juniors’ clash against River Plate but he could not make amends as the latter celebrated a comfortable 3-1 triumph.

Speaking after the game, Tevez acknowledged that the team are devastated after suffering a defeat at the hands of their fierce rivals despite giving their everything on the playing field. He added that he does not want to call quits at the current moment of time and would prefer to stick with the team and reach another final.