Manuel Lanzini says there is more to come from him in an Argentina shirt after scoring his maiden international goal at the weekend.
The West Ham United attacking midfielder netted the Albiceleste’s second in a 2-0 friendly win over Italy in Manchester on Friday evening, curling home superbly past Gianluigi Buffon after being teed-up by Gonzalo Higuain.
Lanzini, whose performance won praise from Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli, harbours growing hopes of making his country’s FIFA World Cup squad, but says he will need to improve his performance levels still further if he wants to join the likes of Higuain, Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero in Russia.
“I felt good, comfortable, at times I could not get the ball, but those are situations of the game,” the 25-year-old told TyC Sports. “When I went a little deeper I found the spaces, where Jorge [Sampaoli] told me to be, behind the Italy number five (holding midfielder). This was important, and I think I'm going to improve over time.”
Playing for the first time since losing 4-2 to Nigeria in November, Argentina were the better team against the Italians, despite being without the rested Messi and Aguero.
And their display was capped by the performance of Lanzini, who was involved in both goals on his third appearance for his country.
First, the diminutive Hammer won the ball back for Ever Banega’s opener, then he curled an unstoppable shot into the top left-hand corner of Buffon’s net from 20 yards, celebrating his goal with a broad grin and knee-slide.
“We played a good game, at times we saw good football, it was a great match,” said the Hammers star, who also found time to describe his goal. “It's a ball that Pipa (Gonzalo Higuain) gives me, the defenders just backed up a bit and I hit it well.”
Reports from Argentina suggest Sampaoli would like to see Lanzini play alongside Messi for an extended period, with the pair lining up together for just nine minutes previously – on the West Ham man’s international debut against Brazil in Melbourne last June.
That could happen on Tuesday evening, when the South Americans take on Spain in Madrid in an international friendly that will be screened live on Sky Sports Football from 8.30pm UK time.