Football’s newest villain, Mauro Icardi, is worth the hassle

To be hated by the great Diego Maradona is one thing, but to be hated by your own hardcore supporters is another. Mauro Icardi has achieved both and he’s not even 24, yet. Icardi’s off-the-field antics haven’t seen him gain many admirers but he’s clearly not bothered, judging by his performances for Inter this season. 

Icardi spent three years at Barcelona before joining Sampdoria After joining Inter in 2013 from Sampdoria, Icardi has been one of Europe’s most consistent strikers since joining I Nerazzurri. In 129 appearances for Inter, he’s scored 68 goals. Despite this, Icardi isn’t often spoken about in the same breath as the likes of Aubameyang, Dybala, Benzema or Cavani. Inter have been poor for years now, captaining and regularly scoring is a credit to Icardi’s ability.

Icardi’s love life has been well documented. Currently married to Wanda Nara, the ex-wife of Icardi’s ex-Sampdoria teammate, Maxi Lopez, Icardi has been seen as a traitor by many, most notably Diego Maradona.

“Icardi is a traitor. He will be a great player, but Batistuta is worth ten of him. He can’t go to dinner with his teammates then get married to the wife of his friend. He’ll pay for what he did to Maxi Lopez.”

Diego Maradona – Canale 5

It’s reported that even the Sicilian Mafia offered to break Icardi’s legs for Maxi Lopez. It all seems a bit Hollywood! Off-field distractions haven’t seemed to effect Icardi, especially this season.

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Icardi is a more traditional ‘number 9’. He’s intelligent in the box and composed in front of goal. He isn’t going to dribble past three or four defenders before scoring, he’s a poacher and he’s great at it as well. He’s also great at making headlines. Icardi’s problems with the Inter ultras reached boiling point last year, after Icardi released an autobiography slating them.

“I am ready to face them one by one. How many are there? 50, 100, 200? OK, record my message and let him listen: I’ll bring 100 criminals from Argentina who’ll kill them where they stand, then we’ll see.”

Mauro Icardi

It doesn’t take a genius to know what Icardi said was ridiculous. Banners were put up at the San Siro threatening Icardi and reports of ultras unveiling a banner at Icardi’s house were all over social media. Though this was later denied by Wanda Nara.

It’s not a surprise that Icardi isn’t necessarily liked by rival fans. His sometimes arrogant demeanour can sometimes annoy people. Take for example, the video that surfaced of him playing FIFA in his gold Hummer.

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Icardi’s talent should be the main reason he’s making headlines. Unfortunately this isn’t this case. After Inter’s 1-0 loss to Juventus, thanks to a Juan Cuadrado strike, the Inter captain was given a two-game suspension for “offensive behaviour” and attempting to hit the referee with the ball. Whether this is the case or not is open for debate. It may be a case of a player’s reputation going against him. Diego Costa, Luís Suarez or even Raheem Sterling also suffer from this.

Icardi’s talent is unquestionable. Unfortunately so is his baggage. Spanish outlet ‘Don Balon’ reported that both Manchester United and Barcelona have ‘banned’ themselves from attempting to sign him from Inter, purely because of his off field antics. It’s not really a ‘ban’, they’ve just decided they don’t want him… surely?

Icardi is a natural striker who could be the man to help lead Inter back to the top of Italian football. Significant financial backing from Inter’s new Chinese majority ownership, and the appointment of Stefano Pioli as manager, has seen Inter look much improved. Icardi is one of the best strikers in Europe, the stats don’t lie.

Icardi signed a new contract with Inter last year, which includes a €100 million buy-out clause. In a world where Gonzalo Higuaín is worth €90 million, don’t be surprised to see the top European clubs interested in Icardi.

If Icardi sorts out his antics, in a decade or so, he could well find a way into the greatest ever AC and Inter Milan combined XI!