There is no doubting that Mauro Icardi is a divisive character. There is also no questioning the Argentine’s obvious talent, which deserves to be showcased at a club competing for major honours
It was only six months ago that Mauro Icardi was embroiled in a public row with Inter’s ultras in the Curva Nord.
The club captain was widely criticised for the inflammatory words used in his newly released autobiography, which only further embellished his reputation as somewhat of a ‘wild child’.
Though following the Nerazzurri’s embarrassing second half display against Fiorentina, it’s clear that the Argentinian deserves more than what’s on offer at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.
There’s no doubting that Icardi is one of the most lethal strikers in Europe, and at just 24 years old, the potential for him to be one of the world’s best players is certainly there.
His ability was spotted at an early age, having signed a youth contract with Barcelona before moving to Italy to play with Sampdoria’s Primavera squad in 2011.
27 goals in 35 appearances earned the budding striker a senior start in 2012, scoring just 10 minutes into his debut.
Fast forward four-and-a-half years and Icardi has gone on to score 81 goals from 153 Serie A appearances, 71 of which have been in Nerazzurri colours.
Since his move to Milan, the striker has averaged a goal every 135 minutes on the pitch. To put this into context, Gonzalo Higuain has averaged a goal every 113 minutes in Serie A. Not bad when you consider that the 29-year-old’s teams have scored 61 more goals than Inter during the same period.
His incredible goal-scoring feats are only made more impressive by his all-around development as a player, where acting as a provider for his teammates has become an increasingly important part of his game. The No.9 has already bagged eight assists in Serie A this season, the second highest at his club to Antonio Candreva.
Though while Icardi continues to prosper on an individual level, he has been continually let down by those around him, both on and off the pitch. This was most incredibly illustrated after bagging his hat-trick in the Nerazzurri’s 5-4 loss to Fiorentina, where he could only shake his head in disbelief at the previous 45 minutes that had been played out in front of him.
It would be difficult to make a case against the 24-year-old being amongst the top strikers in Europe over the past 12 months. Though it remains a great tragedy that the Nerazzurri captain is yet to taste a minute of Champions League football.
In fact, his European experience has been limited to just 15 matches across two failed Europa League campaigns.
There is no doubting the talent that exists around the striker in the squad, though it remains some way from forming a complete squad that can challenge for trophies.
Attitude remains a clear deficiency amongst his teammates and when they do fall into the slumps Inter have often found themselves in recent seasons, the team becomes even more reliant on the controversial striker.
As it stands, Icardi has been directly involved in 32 of the Nerazzurri’s 63 Serie A goals this season. Though during their difficult start to the season, the former Sampdoria man scored six of the club’s first seven goals, providing the assist for the seventh.
Now in their current slump, the Argentinian has scored four of their last six.
With Inter now sitting seventh in Serie A, 15 points behind third position, the club has seemingly spent more money but taken another step backwards. Thus, it’s a troubling thought to ponder where the Milan giant might have found themselves without their captain.
Having only recently turned 24, there is still a great deal of development to take place in Icardi’s career. However, if he is going to grow into one of the world’s best goal-scorers, he needs to be consistently playing the highest level of football.
Unfortunately for the Nerazzurri faithful, Inter are simply unable to provide this at present, with Champions League football remaining all but a distant dream. Not withstanding the fact that they look unlikely to secure Europa League qualification for next season with the table as it currently stands.
Icardi has been called many things during his relatively short career; an immature brat and an undeserved captain being constants.
Whatever your opinion might be on the man behind the footballer, his incredible talent in front of goal is undeniable. However if such a talent is ever going to fulfil his potential, he needs a team that can compliment his abilities, not one that he is forced to carry on his young shoulders.
Make no mistake, losing the No.9 would be devastating for the club. No doubt Interisti will hope that club loyalty and family ties (aided by a hefty wage) might just keep the young father in Nerazzurri colours for some years to come.
Though it’s becoming increasingly clear that Inter, in their current state, simply don’t deserve the services of Mauro Icardi. Brat or not.