Juventus among five possible destinations for Inter Milan contract rebel Mauro Icardi

Aditya Devavrat 11:02 16/02/2019
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Mauro Icardi remains out of action.

The Mauro Icardi saga took another twist this week as Inter Milan announced they were stripping their star striker of the club captaincy.

Icardi subsequently refused to travel for Inter’s Europa League round of 32 first leg tie against Rapid Vienna, prompting another round of speculation that the Argentine is on his way out of the club.

This latest development comes as negotiations over a new contract have become protracted, with Icardi reportedly turning down an offer from the club more than once.

Though Inter say the priority is still to sign the 25-year-old to a new deal, the relationship between club and player is becoming increasingly frayed, and a summer exit will come as a surprise to no-one.

But where would Icardi go? There are sure to be plenty of suitors for his services. Here’s a look at five potential destinations for the Inter star.

JUVENTUS

There are clear links between Icardi’s stand-off with Inter and a potential move to Juventus. His agent, wife Wanda Nara, has been dropping hints about a move to the Serie A champions since last summer, first mentioning that Icardi was a back-up option if Juve failed to land Cristiano Ronaldo, then revealing that the Turin club actually wanted to pair the two players in Bianconeri colours.

Any such transfer would be acrimonious, reminiscent of the bitter scenes of 2016 when Juve prised forward Gonzalo Higuain away from Napoli. In the end, however, other than the abuse he would face whenever he returned to the San Siro, this would no doubt be a prosperous move for Icardi.

BARCELONA

Icardi spent three years as a youth-team player at La Masia, Barcelona‘s famed academy. As the Argentine has prospered, the club have no doubt rued their decision to let him go – though, in fairness, David Villa was the starting striker at Barca when Icardi was there.

Since then, big name strikers like Neymar and Luis Suarez have joined (and in Neymar‘s case, left).

Suarez would be the biggest reason Barca would return for their academy product. The Uruguay striker is 32 and though he remains a sharp, clinical striker, his fitness has been a concern over the last two seasons.

And in any case, signing the 25-year-old Icardi would just be smart long-term planning given Suarez’s age. As a bonus, Argentina would love for this transfer to go through. If the Blaugrana could figure out how to play Icardi and Lionel Messi together, it would provide La Albicelest with a potential blueprint for success.

REAL MADRID

The resurgence of Karim Benzema in the last couple of months has reduced Real Madrid‘s need for a goalscorer. But a star player going on the market and Madrid not being in the running? Such an occurrence is unthinkable.

And given the support for Benzema has been thin – Vinicius Junior has been a revelation but is still only 18, while Gareth Bale and Marco Asensio have struggled with form and injuries. Icardi would be a good player to pair with the Frenchman, or have as back-up to allow Madrid to manage the 31-year-old Benzema’s workload.

Icardi’s Barcelona ties are unlikely to be an issue, given that he left the Catalan club seven years ago. And though Madrid have been building their squad more organically in recent years, promoting young players either from their own academy or purchased from La Liga‘s other clubs, they have been crying out for another Galactico-level signing.

Icardi doesn’t quite come with the star power of Neymar, Eden Hazard or Kylian Mbappe, but he would be a box-office signing nonetheless.

MANCHESTER UNITED

Manchester United‘s greatest need isn’t at striker – both full-back positions, centre-back and right wing are where they really need to strengthen – but given the dipping form of Romelu Lukaku, they should be looking at their options up front, too.

Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial are 21 and 23 respectively and their success so far is a credit to United’s faith in youth. But there’s no doubt that an established striker could take this team to another level.

Icardi’s age is also a positive in that regard. At 25, he’s been both an established player for a number of years, with goalscoring pedigree, while he’s also someone who is yet to hit his prime and a signing with the long-term in mind. He’s the same age as Lukaku and on current form, an improvement on the Belgian. United’s interest should be piqued if the Argentine is available.

CHELSEA

Having signed Higuain this winter, Chelsea‘s immediate need for a striker has been resolved. But the 31-year-old was never a long-term signing, and already there are rumours they are either looking to reduce the fee they’ll have to pay Juve to make Higuain’s transfer permanent, or are considering other options up front.

If the latter is true, Icardi should be at the top of the list. True, he’s a more expensive option than Luka Jovic, the Eintracht Frankfurt striker supposedly catching Chelsea’s eye.

But that higher transfer value is there for a reason: Icardi has been producing at a high level consistently in one of the toughest leagues in Europe, for one of Italy’s biggest clubs. Though even proven players can end up flopping at a new club, Icardi is clearly a far less risky option than Jovic.

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