Mauro Icardi could be the star of the next epic transfer saga

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Mauro Icardi has scored 13 league goals for Inter this season after his double against Atalanta
Mauro Icardi has scored 13 league goals for Inter this season after his double against Atalanta

Mauro Icardi’s brace against Atalanta on Sunday evening may as well have been trademarked. His first goal was an opportunistic finish when his markers lost him at the set piece, while the second required fantastic movement and keen in-game intelligence.

With Danilo D’Ambrosio shaping up to cross from the right wing, Icardi stealthily checked his run outside the box and hung back with deceptive innocence. Then with a great burst of speed he powered into the Atalanta area, getting across his man before stooping low to glance a header into the far corner.

Icardi has by turns been described as a poacher, a predator and a complete striker. Speaking after the win over Atalanta at the San Siro, Inter Milan coach Luciano Spalletti said: “He’s like a raptor pouncing on its prey… Icardi is a champion.”

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The 24-year-old is certainly a unique footballer, and has packed a huge amount into a relatively short career. Having notched 102 professional goals since his debut for Sampdoria in 2012 – a game in which he scored, incidentally – he is now having the season of his life, with a ratio of a goal a game in Serie A so far this campaign.

With around eight months before the summer transfer window opens – and a move of such magnitude unlikely to happen in January – Icardi is already being linked with an extravagant exit from Inter. Chelsea is the main destination rumoured in England, with the Italian connection to Antonio Conte supposedly a significant factor (Icardi is Argentine, but with Italian heritage).

Bayern Munich are also reportedly interested in his services, which could make things interesting. Whether or not Inter have countenanced selling their star man, it’s almost inevitable that Icardi will be at the heart of one of the summer’s most overblown transfer sagas.

Controversy

Still, despite his fantastic goalscoring record and status as one of Europe’s most exciting youngsters, there are things which could count against Icardi when it comes to becoming the world’s next nine-figure signing. He has never been far from controversy in the last few years and his reputation in Italy and Argentina belies his boyish looks.

First of all there is the infamous story of his schism with former Sampdoria teammate and friend Maxi Lopez, whose ex-wife Wanda Nara is now married to Icardi. The circumstances surrounding the breakdown of their friendship have seen games featuring Icardi and Lopez dubbed ‘the Wanda derby’, while ensuing legal wrangles and public spats involving Lopez’s children have done considerable damage to Icardi’s public image.

It was widely rumoured that Icardi’s feud with Lopez was the reason behind his exile from the Argentine national team, which lasted a long four years after his debut in 2013. Throw in a high-profile falling out with Inter’s ultras over a contentious passage from his autobiography, and clubs may feel that he represents a risky investment. With 13 goals in 13 league games, however, no number of celebrity scandals will force Icardi off the scene.


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