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Who is Mateo Retegui? Italy forward scores on international debut

The Argentina-born striker made his mark against England in his first game for the Azzurri.

Mancini: Retegui looks like Batistuta in Italy

Italy coach Roberto Mancini took a brave decision in calling up Argentina-born forward Mateo Retegui, but that gamble paid off when the 23-year-old scored on his debut.

The Azzurri struggled to get a hold of the game in the first half and went into the break 2-0 down. But ten minutes into the second half Retegui found himself in space in the England box and fired low past Jorden Pickford to halve the deficit for his side.

Retegui, who represented Argentina at U19 and U20 level, is eligible to play for Italy through his maternal grandmother. He was called up by Mancini due to a dearth of striking options in the Italian league and the Italy coach was full of praise for the young forward after announcing his selection.

“We’ve been following Retegui for a while, he’s been playing regularly in the Argentine league for two seasons. He has qualities that we currently lack,” Mancini told reporters before the game.

Retegui has echoes of Batistuta

Despite coming through at Boca Juniors Retegui is currently on loan at fellow Argentine side Tigre, where he has been in red-hot form this year. He has bagged six goals in eight Liga Profesional games and the likes of AC Milan are reportedly interested in bringing him to Europe.

Mancini stressed the need to give the young forward time, but admitted that he sees certain comparisons with one of the finest Argentine forwards of all time: Gabriel Batistuta.

I can say that he looks like Batistuta when he arrived in Italy. He may need some time to get comfortable, but it won’t be long. He is very smart “.

Mancini continued: “Coming from Argentina and playing in the national team, not even for a 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 center forward.”

If Retegui continues his goal-scoring form in Argentina it will not be long before some of Europe’s biggest clubs look to bring the young star to the continent. His decision to opt to play for Italy may be looked back upon as a key moment in his career if he proves to be the missing piece of the puzzle for reigning European champions Italy.