Football is a game of opinions but Jamie Carragher definitely wasn’t going to let Roberto Martinez get away with this comment without pulling him up.
Both Jamie Carragher and Martinez were on punditry duty for CBS Sports on Wednesday night, when the pair were tasked with previewing Friday night’s Europa League final between Inter Milan and Sevilla.
It was during this preview that Martinez boldly branded Inter Milan centre-forward Romelu Lukaku “the best No. 9 in the world.”
In his praise of Lukaku, Martinez was asked if he felt the Inter centre-forward was a better No. 9 than Bayern Munich goal machine Robert Lewandowski.
“Yes because he’s more diverse in what he can do,” Martinez answered. “And always in the big games, he will have a big influence.”
Carragher couldn’t hold his tongue and simply had to interject by suggesting that Martinez’s judgement was perhaps being clouded by the fact that he manages Lukaku for Belgium.
Carragher asked: “If Lewandowski was playing for Belgium, what would you say?”
"For me, he is the best #9 in the world."
— Champions League on CBS Sports (@UCLonCBSSports) August 19, 2020
A chorus of laughter erupted in the studio but Martinez stuck to his guns and explained in more detail why he rates Lukaku more highly than Lewandowski.
Martinez said: “I value Romelu Lukaku [because] now you see him playing in a front two with Lautaro Martinez at Inter Milan. He’s playing always as a No. 9. He plays with a front three for Belgium.
“He finds it so easy to adjust to a system which makes him a modern footballer.”
To be fair, nobody in the debate was discrediting Lukaku as an elite centre-forward. After all, the Belgian striker has 33 goals in 50 games for Inter Milan this season.
But when you look at Lewandowski’s tally this season – 55 goals in 46 Bayern games – it’s no surprise that Martinez is in the minority in this particular discussion.