Saturday, 24 September 2011

Di Santo can be Messi's best mate

Roberto Martinez has indulged in a spot of mind games to unlock the potential of one time Chelsea flop Franco Di Santo.

The Wigan striker has netted three goals in as many games having scored just once in the previous three years.

And Martinez reckons the revitalised Argentine hitman is now on his way to securing a call-
up to partner Lionel Messi in international football.

That's a notion many would have laughed at when Di Santo struggled to make an impact at Chelsea having joined from Chilean side Audax Italiano in January 2008 for £2m.

He failed to impress during a loan spell at Blackburn and has taken a year to get into gear at the DW Stadium.

But Martinez has spent time getting inside Di Santo's head and is now reaping the rewards.

He explained: ``He came as a very young boy from Chile to Chelsea, where his performances couldn't dictate his future.

``When Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka were fit they would play and whatever his form, he would only play in certain games and not play in others.

``He went to Blackburn where he played a lot initially and then wasn't involved at all, and I don't think he was aware how he could affect his own career. I think it was a mental approach we had to change.

``He knows if he plays well he will have a fantastic season and a fantastic career, and if he doesn't play or train well he will not fulfil his potential. There is a realisation moment.

``The technical, tactical and physical aspects do not matter if you are not on song psychologically.

``For us it was about making him aware he is controlling his own future now.

``He is aware that what you do on the pitch controls your next move. I think before he knew that whatever he did, his future was written and he would not play in most games.

 ``Now things have changed for him and he has sat down, realised what he wants to do, and that he wants is to be the best number nine for Argentina and the best player who has ever played for Wigan. That is the perfect mindset.

``It's very easy to talk about a striker when he scores goals, but his contribution this season is because he is a new man.

``He has a real desire, a real focus. He wants to be someone very special for Wigan and he wants to play for Argentina.

``He is playing with that determination. You do not get many as strong as him with a fantastic first touch and who run all day, with two good feet, good in the air and a goalscoring ability. He is only 22, and he is starting to play with real meaning.''

And it is not just Martinez giving Di Santo his backing for a place in the Argentina side.

He added: ``He can play for Argentina of course. That is not just me saying that, it is Atletico Madrid coach Marcelo Bielsa and other former Argentine internationals saying it.

``I see him as the perfect striker for any side, but we are making the same mistake, talking about potential.

``But it is true that to make a big achievement, you have to start with a bigger dream. For now, he should forget long-term ambitions and focus on Saturday, focus on this season, and if he does that he has the mental strength to fulfil his enormous potential.''


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