Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli has claimed that Inter talisman Mauro Icardi is tempted by a summer switch to Real Madrid, as his side continue in their worrying slump of midseason form.
Speaking to reporters at Buenos Aires airport, via Goal, the former Sevilla boss was questioned on Icardi's hopes of making his World Cup 2018 side, and claimed that Real Madrid's rumored interest in signing the 24-year-old is reciprocal. Sampaoli said:
"It's a nice problem to have so many players in good form. I spoke with Icardi and told him what I've told all of them: not to relax, that, if he's doing well, he'll be called up. I know that Real Madrid are following him closely. He is also a little tempted by Real Madrid."
Having spent his whole career to date in Serie A, Icardi could well look to move on at the end of the season to pursue a new challenge. Despite making the best start to their league season in the history of the club, a recent slump of form has seen Luciano Spalletti's side fall off in the title race - with their winless streak now stretching back to early December.
Given the wealth of attacking talents boasted by the national team, Icardi will be desperate to outshine is international teammates and earn his spot on the plane to Russia this summer. With the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Augero and Paulo Dybala all vying for a starting spot, Icardi will need to find some goalscoring form to stand any chance of appearing at the tournament.
Icardi has an excellent scoring record for the San Siro sleeping giants - having netted 96 times in 170 appearances. Given the ageing status of a number of their key players, Real Madrid look set to enter a period of transition as they begin to plan for the future. Icardi could well fit the bill at the Bernabéu, as his tenacious style of play certainly fits the requirements of Los Blancos.
In transfer news, Inter missed out on their transfer deadline day target Javier Pastore - after the Paris Saint-Germain forgotten man was unable to engineer a move away from the Ligue Un leaders. Having been forced out of the starting lineup by the signings of Neymar and Kylian Mbappé, the former Palermo man is thought to be desperate to return to Serie A.