Mauro Icardi is unquestionably a brilliant striker cut from the same cloth as his idol Gabriel Batistuta.
However, these last few months have been tough for the Argentine marksman, who is no longer guaranteed a future at Inter Milan.
In many ways since joining Icardi’s life has been a soap opera, the difference now is that he’s making headlines off the pitch. Given what he’s capable of there will be no shortage of suitors.
Below are six contenders to become his next club; two dream options, two realistic choices, and two wildcard selections.
Dream: Atletico Madrid or Juventus
Icardi came through Barcelona’s youth set-up but never had a sniff of reaching their first team. He’d instead join Sampdoria and the rest is history. A chance to return and prove something to himself in Spain is likely to be on his mind. One club where he’d fit like a glove is Atlético Madrid, who recently acquired the services of highly promising forward João Félix, despite this manager Diego Simeone would not pass on an effective marksman especially with uncertainty about retaining Alvaro Morata and Diego Costa entering his twilight years.
If you can’t beat them, join them? The hostility between Inter and Juventus hasn’t stopped players from crossing the proverbial rubicon. Given his standing amongst the Nerazzurri’s fervent ultras – which isn’t the highest – it would be a very brave move for Icardi to don black-and-white next season. Juve, who are determined to end a 24-year European Cup drought, may feel an Icardi-Ronaldo axis could shoot them to glory in Istanbul.
Squawka suggests: Atletico Madrid
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Realistic: Napoli or remain in exile at Inter
Remaining in Serie A where he’s to date bagged 121 goals across 219 matches is a serious prospect. A move down south to Napoli, where compatriot Diego Maradona remains an idol, and linking up with Carlo Ancelotti who has coached some of the game’s greatest strikers sounds tantalising. There’s no question Icardi would bring a level of consistent goalscoring that could become the difference between Napoli – who have effectively been Juve’s nearest challengers these last few years – securing a first scudetto since 1990.
Given his present deal at the San Siro expires next summer Inter are unlikely to get top dollar for their leading scorer. What could see him stay at the club is necessity, how many clubs are serious about signing him and prepared for the subsequent baggage that comes with it? Also, there is the man himself. Icardi, despite what has gone on, still loves the club and is willing to fight for his place. Incoming boss Antonio Conte, who has fallen out of love with tempestuous strikers before, knows if he’s to take Inter right back to the top he needs a proven goalscorer.
Squawka suggests: Inter Milan
Wildcard: Manchester United or Paris Saint-Germain
With reports circling that Inter are keen to acquire the services of Romelu Lukau it opens up a position at Manchester United who may feel Marcus Rashford – after signing a new deal – isn’t yet ready to shoulder the burden of being the Red Devils main marksman. If United are to lose Lukaku, despite his poor 2018/19 campaign, they’ll need to bring in someone as good or better. Icardi, aware of the Premier League and its riches, is someone that offers the Red Devils an upgrade to what they could potentially lose.
Edinson Cavani’s time as Paris Saint-Germain’s first choice striker looks to be ending. But, as far as the Uruguayan striker is concerned he’s got at least one more season in him, though PSG may have other ideas. For one, they could fast track his exit if Icardi does become available, nothing against the former Napoli centre-forward but relative youth trumps experience. PSG, like Juve, are hellbent on getting their hands on the European Cup and having one of Europe’s most feared goalscorer alongside Kylian Mbappé could potentially be the ticket.
Squawka suggests: Manchester United