Inter Milan manager Luciano Spalletti has insisted Mauro Icardi is worth more to the club than ‘Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo combined’, despite calling his recent contract stand-off a ‘humiliation’.
The Argentine striker hasn’t featured for Inter since being removed as club captain in mid-February, while reports suggested he’d been cleared of injury some time ago but has been ruling himself out of action.
What has happened between Inter and Icardi? Five key things to know…
- Icardi was stripped of his Inter captaincy in mid-February and hasn’t featured for the club since.
- This was a result of the striker refusing to sign a new contract amid links to Real Madrid and Chelsea.
- Icardi’s wife and agent, Wanda Nara, has been public in her criticism of Inter.
- After declaring himself unfit, Icardi finally returned to training recently.
- Spalletti has revealed he plans to start him against Genoa on Wednesday, claiming he is worth more to Inter ‘than Messi and Ronaldo combined’.
However, Spalletti has now confirmed he plans to start Icardi for Inter’s clash with Genoa on Wednesday, while insisting that club CEO Giuseppe Marotta has been able to mediate the recent contract situation.
“Mauro has been called up,” Spalletti told a press conference.
“Marotta’s work was decisive in letting the parties come together in a real way. It was a coming-together that has now put Mauro in a position to help the team.
“If mediation is born to dictate conditions, it becomes more complicated.”
The Italian coach then spoke of Icardi’s value to the Nerazzurri, adding: “In the context of our team, Mauro’s worth more than Messi and Ronaldo put together.”
Before confirming Icardi’s place in the starting XI on Wednesday.
“Mauro’s able to drag the team forward when he’s in it,” he continued. “From the outside, no. In these last few training sessions and without sending messages on social media, he’s regained his place in the squad.
“He’ll start tomorrow [Wednesday]. The head counts for more than muscle. He gave the right reaction. He’ll play and see if he needs taking off.
“His response will show us whether he can play for the entire match.”
Spalletti: Icardi humiliated us
Despite returning to full training well in advance, Spalletti decided to leave Icardi – who has been linked with Real Madrid and Chelsea – out of the Inter squad that lost 1-0 against Lazio on Sunday – a result that leaves their opponents five points behind them in the table with a game in hand.
When asked why Icardi was left out of the squad after the match, though, the 60-year-old came out on the defensive, declaring that the Argentina international had ‘humiliated’ the club by using lawyer, Paolo Nicoletti, to act as the intermediary between himself and Inter during the recent disputes.
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“I know what my job is. As things stand today, for the way he behaved, he has to stay out and the others have to play. It is clear for everyone to see what happened and how events unfolded,” Spalletti added.
“I think he could’ve played 20-30 minutes, even half a game, but that’s not the point. Those who are in the locker room need to play. You need to have credibility in a group. I have had credibility for 22 years in my career, I have credibility with my players.
“It’s obvious for everyone to see what happened. It’s obvious.
“This mediation is humiliating for Inter fans and for those who love Inter. The need to mediate with someone just to get him to pull on the shirt that they love. It’s humiliating.
“Negotiating with someone just to get him to pull on the Inter shirt. What, do I need to email 20 lawyers and ask them if I can call someone up?”