On February 13th, Inter Milan announced a change in captaincy via Twitter:
Goalkeeper Samir Handanovic has spearheaded the Nerazzurri since the aforementioned announcement was made while Mauro Icardi, who previously sported the captain’s armband, has been MIA due to a reported knee injury. According to SkySport reporter Andrea Paventi, Icardi met with manager Luciano Spalletti and the club’s medical staff this week to communicate that he prefers not to return to training as his knee has not healed. Icardi has been absent from Inter’s last five matches and will miss their tie against Eintracht Frankfurt in the 1st leg of the Europa League Round of 16 tomorrow, March 7th.
A great deal of suspicion surrounds Icardi’s absence from the pitch as his supposed injury developed after tensions between his agent/wife, Wanda (Nara) Icardi, and Inter were made public. At the center of said tensions lies a contract extension for Inter’s number 9, which had presumably been on the horizon for quite a while. On the surface it appears that the primary inhibitor behind the execution of Icardi’s contract is his representation, who has used the interest her husband has generated from some of Europe’s top clubs to stir the pot in an attempt to position herself in a superior negotiating position. While Wanda’s strategy is commonplace from a bargaining perspective, it seems as though her holdout against Inter is inching towards a point of no return. Club executives are frustrated, the team manager is frustrated, and the conflict is a distraction for the entire team. Making matters worse, Wanda Icardi is notorious for regularly voicing her opinions regarding her husband and his club on social media, a red flag for sporting directors and executives of professional soccer clubs all over the world.
The latest to call the Icardi’s bluff is former Inter and A.C. Milan striker Antonio Cassano, who accused Wanda of “causing disasters” on Tiki Taka, an Italian TV Show where she is often hosted. Cassano, who had his fair share of antics throughout his playing career, bluntly told Wanda, "I think you made disasters and you put Mauro in trouble. With your statements you isolated Icardi. You act like a football manager on tv and social, you speak too much. There is a reason why Icardi was stripped of Inter captaincy. Inter directors are not fools.”
One of the following two scenarios can be true:
Icardi’s injury is restraining him from playing, the back-and-forth between the club and Icardi’s wife/agent is all for show, and a contract extension is around the corner.
Icardi is refusing to provide his services to his employer, his representation is destroying her and her client’s relationship with the club, and the Argentinian duo are tarnishing their respective reputations as an agent and a player.
Earlier today, multiple sources reported a “cordial” meeting between Inter Milan’s CEO Giuseppe Marotta and Wanda Icardi.
Of all the decisions a professional athlete makes, selecting their representation is imperative. Icardi was previously represented by Abian Morano for 10 years. In an exclusive interview with Calciomercato.com, Morano commented on the situation following Inter’s decision to name a new captain. “When I was Icardi's agent, things were managed in a professional, but above all, private way...Icardi's possible departure? Mauro now no longer decides about this. Inter told all top clubs in the world that Icardi has a problem. It is a very strong message. My relationship with Icardi? I'm no longer his friend, he showed to me by putting me aside when Wanda came in. I think her choice has influenced his career. He received my advice since being 13 years old and with me by his side he arrived in Barcelona and Inter. The rest is his story.”