La Albiceleste will approach Copa America with full throttle. The Copa America this summer could be Lionel Messi’s last bite at the cherry. With international trophies evading the Argentinian maestro, the sky blue and white squad will put all their efforts to lead him to glory.
¡MAGIA PURA! 🙌
— Copa América (@CopaAmerica) June 9, 2021
A squad full of mouth-watering attacking options, Argentina could lack defensive stability. Leading 2-0 one minute and throwing away easy three points the next minute, Argentina’s story has remained unchanged since the 2018 World Cup. Staggering losses in finals and semifinals have depleted the legendary squad and it’s time for the South American nation to rise from their ashes.
— Selección Argentina 🇦🇷 (@Argentina) May 26, 2021
With the world ready to witness greatness, a young man who could be a part of this outstanding battle is their 25-year-old defender Lucas Martinez Quarta. A wonderful career is on the cards for Quarta but the necessary boost could come if he has an excellent Copa America. We try and find out what makes the centre-back so special.
WHO IS LUCAS MARTINEZ QUARTA?
Quarta’s dreams of playing professional football turned into reality in 2016. The solid defender made his much-awaited debut for Argentine giants River Plate. Having already been the fulcrum of defence for their U-20s, it was time for him to rule South America.
Right off the bat, he appeared to be fundamentally proficient and confident on the pitch. He possessed the speed and stature to deal with many of the strikers in a tussle. Unfortunately, the pandemic halted River Plate’s season but on their return, Quarta picked up exactly where he left off. River Plate was able to breeze through the knockout rounds because of his excellent tracking and distributing ability.
— River Plate (@RiverPlate) May 30, 2021
A budding Argentine defender, Quarta soon earned interest from Europe and the big-money move was on the cards. The young centre-back impressed Italian club Fiorentina and ended up signing a 5-year contract with them.
— ACF Fiorentina English (@ACFFiorentinaEN) February 2, 2021
Owing to Quarta’s impressive performances, the youngster was soon seen donning the prestigious sky blue and white Argentine jersey. In the 2020/21 campaign, Quarta dazzled the Fiorentina fans.
He averaged 2.1 clearances and 0.4 blocks per game in Serie A. With Argentina looking for someone to replace the Javier Mascherano role since his retirement, Quarta surely has shown glimpses of greatness.
Quarta possesses the one trait that is most desired amongst the elite CBs these days: Pace. Otamendi, the most experienced campaigner in defence, is no longer the quickest defender around and Martinez was usually covering for him throughout the qualifiers. With the rapid speed to chase the ball, the strength to outwit the opposition, and then the sheer calmness to play the ball in tight spaces, Martinez epitomises the ideology of a towering centre back.
Because Argentina lacks a defender capable of routinely and comfortably playing those magnificent through-balls and deliveries, Lionel Messi is forced to come exceedingly deeper to earn possession and weave some magic. Martinez Quarta could be the answer to Argentina’s problem of lack of ball-playing defenders. With an outstanding vision, Quarta could find Messi in perfect spots who won’t need a second invitation to find the back of the net.
A mouth-watering defender, Quarta’s defending skills are unquestionable. The youngster is not scared to fly in a tackle and usually succeeds in getting the ball. Rarely giving his opposite number space to breathe, Martinez is behind the back of his man challenging him throughout the 90 minutes.
— FC Lucas Martinez Quarta (@fcmartinezquart) December 9, 2020
Although Quarta’s biggest problem is he commits himself too much sometimes. Excessively sliding into challenges, the Argentine commits at least one disastrous foul each game putting him under the scanner. His overall defending and tackling skills are elite but if the Fiorentina centre-back wants to be a regular starter for Lionel Scaloni, he’ll have to be less vulnerable.
La Albiceleste’s squad contains some of the biggest names in Europe. They will look to regain the crown of South America’s finest this summer but without a world-class defender, it seems impossible.
Martinez’s addition to the squad has been nothing short of a surprise boost for Scaloni. A defender who could replicate Mascherano’s heroics, Martinez seems to be the perfect heir to his throne. With just a handful of appearances for his national outfit, Quarta’s glory days are still to come. With Copa America inching closer, all eyes will be on the 25-year-old who could write his name in the history books.
— ACF Fiorentina English (@ACFFiorentinaEN) February 22, 2021
If he mirrors his perfect Serie A season with Albiceleste and they are crowned champions of South America, Martinez will be the transfer market’s hottest item. Martinez once wanted to move to one of the Milan clubs and this could be his chance to get some clubs to splash bucks for the him.
Argentina’s attacking battery is full and they’ll be looking to get help from their backline to regain the title. With Martinez’s presence, the backline could march towards unexpected performances and could be crowned South American champions once again.
🇦🇷 Chino 💜 pic.twitter.com/XALjqxCjqL
— ACF Fiorentina English (@ACFFiorentinaEN) May 22, 2021
Lastly, Martinez’s tackling-ability is phenomenal. Rarely there’s a defender in the world who’s always ready to battle it out with his rival. While some prefer containing the attacker, some of them prefer blocking or changing the striker’s direction, Quarta is a master at both, jockeying for possession, or going in hard to relish a one-on-one tussle with the attacker.
PREDICTION FOR COPA AMERICA
A constant starter in Scaloni’s defensive system, Martinez will get his fair share of chances this summer. Partnering up with Tagliafico or Otamendi, Martinez could be the first-choice centre-back. With Otamendi lacking pace and constantly committing errors, Lucas Martinez Quarta might leapfrog the Benfica defender in squad depth.
With Foyth and Romero also gaining Scaloni’s trust, a young centre-back lineup for Albiceleste is predicted. Some aggressive tackles are always a possibility when Martinez is on the pitch. With a Ruben Dias like performance in South America’s biggest competition, Martinez could take the road to greatness. If Argentina wins the title, Martinez’s defensive wonders will surely play a part.
IDEAL LANDING SPOT
With Martinez establishing a footing in Italy, the Argentine should look for other Italian clubs. And Quarta also had interests from the two Milan clubs before he moved to Fiorentina. An outstanding season for River Plate earned him bids from all over the world, but the Argentine personally wanted to go to Inter or AC Milan.
HASTA LUEGO, CHINO 🥺 Lucas Martínez Quarta y su hijo Bauti se despiden de River 😭 ESTOY ASÍ 💔💔💔
El defensor seguirá su carrera en Fiorentina 🇮🇹 pic.twitter.com/tyRyTxvrPz
— TNT Sports Argentina (@TNTSportsAR) October 5, 2020
With Fikayo Tomori’s loan spell at Milan coming to an end, Martinez could be the preferred candidate. Defensive stability along with smart passing in short areas, Martinez could earn some bucks with the Rossoneri. Even if Milan were to activate their buy option with Tomori, a Quarta-Tomori partnership would be the ideal modern CB pairing.
Achraf Hakimi has been constantly linked with French giants, PSG. If Inter Milan lose their star defender, then they’ll be looking to do some good business this summer. Excellent performance in Copa America, and Lucas Martinez Quarta could soon be training with the Italian kings.