Mauro Icardi’s career till date has been blighted with controversies. Starting with the whole Maxi Lopez-Wanda Nara episode to the ugly spat with Inter Milan’s Ultras in 2015, and the furore caused by some claims in his autobiography published in 2016, the Argentine’s footballing career has been filled with off-the-field issues. And that in turn has affected his career.
One such incident during the 2018/19 season took place when his wife and agent Wanda Nara made controversial comments in Italian media, as she lobbied for a new lucrative contract for her husband. This did not go down all too well with Inter Milan, who decided to strip Icardi of the club captaincy.
As a reaction to this, the striker refused to travel with the team for a Europa League fixture in February last year, leading to manager Luciano Spaletti exiling him from the first-team squad.
After being frozen out for two months, the 27-year-old returned to first-team action in April and helped Inter see out the season, but there was no way back from what had happened. Left out of the club’s pre-season camp, the Argentine international was then shipped out on loan to Paris Saint-Germain. Surely, a new lease on life for the talented but controversial striker.
A splendid start in Paris
Indeed, Icardi made a blazing start to life with the French capital outfit. Six goals in his first seven Ligue 1 outings was seen as a sign of the 27-year-old finally putting all the controversy behind and flourishing in his new environs.
Icardi continued to thrive for Paris Saint-Germain even though he had been forced to share game-time with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, who had returned from their early-season injury problems.
By the time the 2019/20 season had been suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Argentine striker had produced a fine return of 20 goals and two assists from 31 matches in all competitions, which include a late winner against Brest in the league and a hat-trick against Saint-Etienne in the Coupe de la Ligue quarter-final among other key contributions.
Surely, given the impact that he had made, PSG would want to convert his loan deal into a permanent one, more so considering the fact that Edinson Cavani will be leaving at the end of the season when his contract expires.
Trouble in Paradise
Icardi finds himself in troubled waters with PSG after – once again – comments made by wife/agent Wanda, who claimed in an interview that her husband wanted to return to Italy once his loan deal expired.
This, apparently, did not go down too well with the PSG hierarchy, who have now decided not to pursue the 27-year-old's signing on a permanent basis according to widespread reports in France. At the same time, reports in Italy have claimed that Antonio Conte and Inter Milan too don’t want anything to do with the Argentine.
And, just like that, Icardi finds himself at a crossroads in his career once again.
Should Inter offer a shot at redemption?
Controversies aside, there is no denying that Icardi is a prolific goalscorer. And with neither PSG nor Inter wanting him next season, there is a good chance that some other club in Europe will pop up to secure his services. If not, there is always the lucrative option of the Chinese Super League.
However, should Inter Milan give the former Barcelona academy graduate another chance to make things right? One would understand if Nerazzurri decide they want nothing to do with Icardi once his loan spell expires – once bitten, twice shy, obviously. However, heading into the next season, they might just be in need of the 27-year-old.
Life has been merry for Inter under Conte this season, with summer signing Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez in fine form. But they once again fell behind the likes of Juventus and Lazio in the race for the Scudetto.
With the struggling Alexis Sanchez’s loan deal unlikely to be made permanent, the Nerazzurri will need another forward who can provide them with goals and help them close that gap to Juventus. Moreover, there will also be concerns regarding the future of Lautaro Martinez, who is at the top of the summer shopping list of several clubs, including Barcelona.
Irrespective of what happens with Martinez’s future with Inter Milan, Conte will need to add another quality goalscorer to his ranks next season. The Italian giants have scored 49 goals in 25 Serie A matches this term, which is the least among the top five teams in the table, thus necessitating the addition of a new forward to the ranks.
With finances likely to be affected heavily due to the coronavirus crisis, Inter Milan might not be able to splurge the cash in the transfer market on a new world-class striker. So, the prudent option would be to let the bygones be bygones and give Icardi another chance to shine, another opportunity to win over the fans.
With 124 goals and 28 assists in 219 matches for Inter, the Argentine’s record speaks for itself. In three of his six seasons with the club, the 27-year-old has scored 20+ goals. Only in one season has he scored fewer than 15. And at 27, he is entering the peak years of his footballing career.
It will not be easy, things are unlikely to go down smoothly, especially given the aggressive nature of football fans in Italy. But seems like the current situation surrounding Inter and Icardi would be best resolved by the two parties joining forces once again in a marriage of necessity.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Franck Fife