"Messi called Lautaro to ask him to join him at Barcelona"

"Messi called Lautaro to ask him to join him at Barcelona"

Los números por los que el Barça suspira por Lautaro
Los números por los que el Barça suspira por Lautaro / | Perform

SPORT have spoken exclusively with Adrián Rubén Fernández, who discovered Lautaro Martínez

"Lautaro Martinez is impressive -- he's a really complete forwardHe's strong, he's a good dribbler, he scores goals, he knows how to protect the ball. He has a lot of similarities with Luis [Suarez], they both use their bodies well and hold the ball up."  

That's Lionel Messi's official blessing of Barcelona's pursuit of the Inter striker. He's the man Barça want and talks are progressing well. 

One of the men that discovered Lautaro -- Adrián Rubén Fernández, the president of youth football at Racing Club de Avellaneda since 2008 -- has spoken to SPORT about how things are progressing and Messi's intervention.

"Messi called him and wants him by his side soon, I have no doubt," he said. "For that reason, the deal to sign him is almost there. I know things will go well in Barcelona and that Lautaro will be an excellent replacement for Suarez. He's the ideal heir. Thanks to Barça he will continue to grow as a player and a man.

"In terms of Argentine players, he has the same qualities as Sergio Aguero. I think he's on that path and will have a successful career like him. I would even say Lautaro is better in the air and much better with his left foot, but he will have to prove that with time. I hope he can.

"Going to play with the best player in the world, who is still 32 and has three or four years ahead of him... to be Messi's teammate can make him even better and help him with the national team. Lautaro and Leo will improve their understanding on the pitch." 

Fernández remembers the young Lautaro: "I will never forget it. It was November 2013 and there were trials. Fabio Radaelli and Alfredo Acosta saw him on one of the teams and called me immediately: 'Adrian, there's an extraordinary player, we have to sign him whatever.'  

"I told them our 1997 generation was already full of top talents, that we didn't have space, but Fabio insisted that we backed this kid, so we signed him. Lautaro came in January 2014 and lived at the academy for two or three years. 

"He was a clever kid, focused and humble. He always knew he wanted to be a professional. He did everything possible to achieve it and never lost sight of his big objective. 

"He rejected an offer when he was with us from Real Madrid. We told him the most important thing at that stage was to continue with Racing, to make his debut and to spend some time in the Argentine league. Luckily he listened to us and made his debut in October 2015 when he was just 18, coming on for none other than Diego Milito. 

"Now, in Italy, he showing everything we believed he would. He surprised us every day, despite being so young, because he was a complete forward and a pure goalscorer." 

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