There's trouble in paradise for Inter Milan and its star forward.
There's trouble brewing for Inter Milan and star forward Mauro Icardi, after the club confirmed that goalkeeper Samir Handanovic will replace Icardi as captain going forward, amid rumors that the Argentine is unhappy at the club.
Inter confirmed the news on Twitter, simply stating: "The Club can confirm that Samir Handanovic is the new Inter captain." Soon after, Inter released its squad for its Europa League round of 32 first leg vs. Rapid Vienna, and Icardi was not on it.
The striker has captained Inter since the start of the 2015/16 season, but has found himself heavily linked with a potential departure from the club amid rumors of a breakdown in contract talks.
Despite remaining under contract at the club until 2021, Icardi's future has been the subject of a huge amount of speculation this season – with his wife and agent Wanda Nara notoriously unpredictable in her dealings with the club. Reports have suggested that the 25-year-old has been discussing a new contract with the club for months, yet no renewal has materialized as of yet.
Chelsea were heavily linked with a move for Icardi, but instead opted to sign Gonzalo Higuain from Juventus. Real Madrid are also regularly touted as potential suitors for the Argentine, and this latest development will only fuel the talk of an imminent departure from the San Siro.
Despite netting nine goals in the first 13 Serie A matches of the season, Icardi is goalless in the last seven games, which is his longest drought since joining the club, and Inter fear that this contract stand-off is beginning to impact his performances on the pitch.
Speaking to DAZN following Saturday's 1-0 victory over Parma, manager Luciano Spalletti called for an end to the uncertainty surrounding Icardi. He is quoted by Football Italia as saying: “I have not created any problems for Icardi. Issues need to be clarified, because when you leave things half-cocked, they become open to interpretation.
“People have said a few too many things, now there is time to sit down and talk about something we’ve avoided and dragged along with us for months.”
He then elaborated on this point in his press conference, and is quoted by Football Italia as saying: “Mauro is evidently seeing his performance affected by some situations that have been going on recently. He needs to free himself from the talk that is around him.
“The directors agreed to start talking about the contract, so now they need to go there and conclude it."