Diego Milito: Inter's "Principe" Could Become Argentina's King
Since his arrival in Europe in 2003, Diego Milito has been a strong goalscorer. From his two year tenure at Serie A's Genoa C.F.C—prior to their relegation to Serie C1—to his three-year stint at Real Zarazoga S.A.D, he averaged about a goal every other game—including an impressive 4 goal performance versus Real Madrid in the 2006 Copa del Rey semi-finals.
He moved back to Genoa during the 2008-09 season, where he had another great season—24 goals in 31 league games—topping his previous high of 23 goals in 37 games with Zarazoga in 2006-07.
Finally, after this production, Milito earned a move to a major club. F.C. Inter bought him from Genoa along with Thiago Motta last summer.
Milito lived up to expectations during Inter's historic season, helping the club capture the treble. They won the Serie A, Coppa Italia, and Champions League.
He has been an integral part of the Nerazzurri's success this season, as he again put up huge goal-scoring numbers. Il Principe, as he is referred to, scored 22 times (35 apperances) in Serie A action, six times in Champions League (11 appearances) and two times in Coppa Italia (3 appearences). Thats 30 goals in 49 games for Europe's top club. A very prolific strike rate.
What makes Milito's goal-scoring even more impressive is that many of his goals have come during the biggest games for the Nerazzurri.
In Inter's run into the history books, Milito stepped up at the most crucial moments.
In the first derby versus arch-rivals A.C. Milan, he scored once and assisted twice during a 4-0 Inter victory. Again, he burned Milan in the second derby with another goal in a 2-0 Inter victory. Just those two performances in themselves won much love for Milito from Inter fans as he struck down their hated rivals.
Those fine performances in the Milan derbies were just a small sample of Milito's big game mettle this season.
The first part of the treble was the Coppa Italia. In the semi-finals he struck a goal against Fiorentina. Additionally, in the final against A.S. Roma, he scored the only goal as Inter lifted the trophy in Roma's own Stadio Olimpico.
He scored big goals during the final stretch of the Serie A season as well.
He was one of Inter's finest performers when they fell to Roma 2-1 at the Olimpico. He scored a goal, and hit a post very late that, had it gone in, would have been a huge blow to Roma's Scudetto aspirations. Roma may have won, but he scored to make it 1-1 and almost tied it again late in a packed Olimpico.
During the last week of the season, he scored the only goal in Inter's 1-0 title clinching victory at Siena. It was a hard fought match until Diego saved the day and the title.
Il Principe also put in big time performances in the pressure-packed situations of the Champions League—something that Zlatan Ibrahimovic could never do the past few years for the Nerazzurri.
He scored in the first knockout stage against Chelsea. Then he struck again in the quarterfinals against CSKA Moscow. Both games were 1-0 victories.
Then came the two most memorable performances of the season.
In the first leg of the semi-finals against favored F.C. Barcelona at the San Siro, Milito put in a performance to be remembered. He scored a goal and assisted on two others as Inter won 3-1 to put themselves in the driver's seat to the final in Madrid.
Once he arrived in Madrid, he impressed yet again. Bayern Munich was the adversary and he shined. He scored both Inter goals and set up a great chance for teammate Wesley Sneijder during a 2-0 Inter win. Milito struck the killer blows as Inter completed the treble and were crowned kings of Europe for 2009-10.
His resume would certainly be enough to merit consistant call-ups to most national teams but he is an Argentine. Coming from a nation that has forwards like Gonzalo Higuain, Carlos Tevez, Lionel Messi, and Kun Aguero. Add to that list former Argentina strikers Hernan Crespo and Julio Cruz, and it's not hard to see why Milito been overlooked.
He is 30 years old, yet he has only netted 4 goals in 21 national team appearances.
This season Milito has made sure that Argentina's Coach Diego Maradona couldn't overlook him when choosing the players for his World Cup squad. Maradona should now make sure not to overlook Milito when naming his starting eleven for Argentina's first match against Nigeria on June 12th.
Milto may not be the sexiest of names amongst the forwards available to Maradona, but if Maradona chooses to play only one striker with Messi, Milito should get the first look. He has shown that he doesn't crack under the pressure of big games. This could be crucial for an Argentinean squad that struggled to qualify for a trip to the World Cup.
Higuain and Tevez both had monster seasons for Real Madrid and Manchester City respectively, but neither helped carry a team to glory the way Milito did for Inter.
If Maradona goes with two strikers, then of course Milito should be one of the two. Higuain will probably be the other, while Messi will be dropped further back or out wide.
Milito is on fire right now and should not be deprived of the chance to continue his torrid form with his country. Obviously, if he fails to impress after a couple of games there is no reason not to make a change, but in his current form I'd be shocked if he doesn't perform well.
If he can keep up the form that made him a hero in Milan, then maybe the Principe can truely become the King.
What are your thoughts? Does Milito deserve to be atop the Argentina pecking order up front after his memorable season with Inter?
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