It’s hard to believe that this season marks the first time in which Inter striker Mauro Icardi (£4.29) has ever played in the Champions League, such has been the furore surrounding his talent since he moved to San Siro from Sampdoria at the beginning of the 2013/14 campaign. The Nerazzurri qualified on the final day of last season, entering for the first time since 2011/12, but would exit at the group stage thanks to a 2-1 loss to PSV Eindhoven.
That initial sortie into Europe’s most prestigious knockout competition would see Icardi return to Camp Nou for the first time in his professional career, since he spent three years in the Blaugrana youth sector between 2008 and 2011. However, progress since then in his trademark deadly marksmanship has led to him continually linked with top teams both at home and abroad.
“I’m fine at Inter,” declared the Argentine to La Gazzetta dello Sport before that aforementioned match with Barcelona. “I’ve no intention of going away. Me and my family are fine in Milan. I want to reach my goals and I want to give my contribution to improve the image of Inter. I’m the captain of this team and I want to fight for these colours. That’s why I’ve never thought of moving away, despite the offers that I’ve received and that I will receive.”
This all paints a rosy picture. Yet there have been a number of off-field incidents that have tainted Icardi’s tenure as club Captain, including a £90,000 fine issued by the club this week as the striker reported back late for training after the holidays.
Another bone of contention is his wife and agent Wanda Nara. Reports in the Italian press have suggested that the Nerazzurri hierarchy have suggested that Icardi seeks new representation after she caused alarm with both comments in the press and risque videos of herself posted on social media. “It’ll always be Wanda Icardi who takes care of my and our interests until the end of my career,” the player tweeted in response to those claims.
Seemingly – *ahem* – unwilling to leave anything to the imagination, Nara herself broached the subject of a contract renewal that has completely stalled in the press this week.
“We’re far from reaching an agreement,” she told AS. “The figures being talked about in Italy aren’t true and we haven’t received a satisfactory proposal from Inter yet. I won’t deny that we can reach an agreement, but right now we’re very far apart. It’s not logical to renew Mauro’s contract for the amount he currently earns.
“We believe Mauro is worth more than that. There are some very important clubs interested in signing him. For example, there are the two biggest clubs in Spain, with whom we have excellent relationships, plus an English team and a French one.”
Her hints over which clubs are showing interest are typically unsubtle, and it doesn’t take a genius to deduce that Real Madrid, Barcelona, PSG and either Chelsea or Manchester United make up this list after what has already been reported in the press.
But is this for real, or is it a high-stakes bluff to force Inter into offering more money?
It’s currently hard to tell, but it certainly seems like this is the closest Icardi has ever come to choosing to leave Inter, and the interested parties will be watching how this plays out in order to bag a striker who is one of the best available in terms of shooting accuracy.
However, this saga concludes, you are bound to hear and see every part of the negotiation thanks to the inimitable Wanda Nara, who somehow manages to overshadow her husband’s brilliant play with off-field drama.