Possible consequences of Inter Milan stripping Mauro Icardi of captaincy
What's the situation?
Even the best fall down sometimes, they say. This phrase could perhaps match with none other in the football world than Mauro Icardi, who's presently undergoing the worst lows in his otherwise illustrious career.
Seven Serie A games without finding the back of the net wasn't enough of a headache for the striker, who was later stripped off his captaincy by Inter Milan in favor of goalkeeper Samir Handanovic amid growing speculation over his long-term future.
The Argentine's contract runs till 2021, but his agent, who also happens to be his wife, had earlier mentioned:
"Mauro has had less service during this period. If I had to choose between [a contract] renewal and the arrival of someone that provides him with five good balls, I'd prefer the second option."
This was the reply when reporters asked her if the player's goal-drought was directly proportional to his possible wish to leave the club. That probably enticed the Serie A giants to opt for a different route, as they took away the player's leadership role.
And on Wednesday, fuel was poured into the fire already set by these events as Icardi refused to travel with the squad ahead of their Europa League fixture against Rapid Wien.
What could it mean to the player and his agent?
Of course, the fact that the 25-year-old is on a barren spell is a cause of concern. Couple that with his absence from the Europa League squad, Icardi's days are not going to get back to normal anytime soon.
Coach Luciano Spalletti too, believed that the off-field issues surrounding the player led to the drop in performances on the pitch. He called upon the directors to resolve the matter last week, remarking:
"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."
On the decision to dislodge responsibility off the player's shoulders, Spalletti argued:
“The decision to remove the captaincy from Icardi was difficult and painful, absolutely shared by all the club members and taken for the good of Inter. He was called up for Vienna but he did not want to be there. "
"Things around him have disturbed him and the team he captained. Now we have to focus all our attention on tomorrow’s (Thursday) game. We hope the team will react in the right way."
Thus, keeping account of what the manager and his wife have opined, it is safe to say that Icardi is not the happiest hunter on the football pitch. These problems might not be as related to his recent form as it may seem, but he's definitely not the 'animal in the box' anymore, as described by former Inter coach Stefano Pioli.
His wife Wanda Nara, on the other hand, according to many around the camp, is responsible for the player's complicated situation. Her open remarks on Icardi's status has caused a lot of issues among the club's hierarchy.
Most recently, the player's sister backed him and opposed Nara as well, asserting:
“My poor brother, but why do you continue to allow all this?” she wrote on Twitter in a post later deleted. “Inter don’t permit such attitudes. If you had a serious person behind you, who really cared for you, this wouldn’t happen."
What could be Icardi's next destination?
Having said the above, it is important to note that both Icardi and his agent are not short of potential suitors from across the globe. A host of European powerhouses including Chelsea and Real Madrid, are chasing the forward's signature.
Given that the player is one of modern-day football's most prolific goal-scorers, it will not be a massive task for him to join another club. According to his agent, he is being monitored by four clubs. She had earlier mentioned:
"There are some very important clubs interested in signing him. There are the two biggest clubs in Spain, with whom we have excellent relationships, plus an English team and a French one."
With the age not being on Karim Benzema's side and the promise of Champions League football, Icardi could slot into the Real Madrid setup seamlessly well. He's good in the air, physically powerful and a sharp sniper in the box. Los Blancos' expansive, direct football could benefit him the most. He's currently valued at €100 million.
How will it affect the club's fortunes?
Nothing is bigger than the club. No player, no manager.
However, the club could have handled the situation better and probably allowed him to hold talks in April. Instead of stripping him off the captaincy role, they should have backed his qualities and held advanced talks regarding a new deal later.
Now that he has refused to ply his trade with the team, Inter's hopes of finishing league season on a high and claim a respectable Europa League finish will face a meaty blow. Should he leave, Inter Milan will still claim a huge amount.
But foreseeing the future, for now, it seems like they will end their relationship with the striker on a worst possible note.