Javier Guillén


A surprise Italy call-up, the striker scored in each of his first two caps


Mateo Retegui was a surprise  inclusion in this month’s Italy squad. The Argentina-born striker had never represented the Italians at any level.

Clearly a big fan of Retegui, Roberto Mancini started him in both Italy’s games. The 23-year-old repaid his boss’ faith with a goal in each.

“He’s young and intelligent,” Mancini says. “We have confidence in him, but he has to be given time. He’s a classic No. 9, in the Batistuta mould.”

In the last 50 years, only three  players have scored two goals in their first two Italy caps. The most recent was Riccardo Orsolini in 2020.

Retegui plays his club soccer in his native Argentina, joining Tigre on loan from Boca Juniors in February. He’s due to return to Boca in December. 

He leads the scoring charts in the Argentine league, having netted six goals in nine appearances for his new club: a strike rate of 0.75 per game.

Retegui has never lived in Italy, has never played in Serie A or even Europe, and doesn’t speak Italian. Mancini has been criticised for calling him up.

The player had a spell in the River Plate youth set-up, before opting to join the academy at arch rivals Boca. He made his first-team debut in 2018/19.

Retegui's estimated transfer value  is growing and growing. It has now risen to around €8 million, having been just €1.5 million a year ago.

According to Gazzetta dello Sport, several clubs are keen to sign him, including AC Milan, Inter Milan, Lazio, Eintracht Frankfurt and West Ham.

Retegui is right-footed, but is  proficient with his left. Standing at 6ft 1in tall and blessed with a prodigious leap, he’s a fine aerial finisher.

Retegui also played field hockey as a  youth, as his father was a professional in the sport. At the age of 15, however, he decided to focus on soccer.