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Inter strip leading scorer Mauro Icardi of captaincy

Inter strip leading scorer Icardi of captaincy, forward takes himself out of Europa squad
By Reuters

13/02/2019 at 14:08Updated 13/02/2019 at 18:13

Inter Milan have stripped leading scorer Mauro Icardi of the team captaincy and handed it to goalkeeper Samir Handanovic, the Serie A club said on Wednesday.

Inter did not give an explanation for the change, which it announced on its Twitter feed, and it did not immediately reply to emailed questions about the switch.

Argentine forward Icardi and the club have been in protracted negotiations over the extension of his contract.

Later on he was left out of the squad for the Europa League match against Rapid Vienna. Manager Luciano Spalletti later confirmed that the striker had taken himself out of the squad.

“Tomorrow will be a very important game. We’ll have time after that to clarify Icardi’s position,” the coach said to Sky Sports Italia.

“It was a difficult and painful decision but one supported by everyone and made for the good of Inter and the team.

" His no-show? It was him who didn’t want to join up with the team. He was called up. He was disappointed, but it was also difficult for us to make this decision and announce it to him."

“There’s a situation that needs addressing and I said it after Parma. What’s happened confirms that. If there’s anyone who’s thinking about anything other than the result tomorrow night, they’re wrong to do that.

“We’ve made a decision at an appropriate time and one that was well thought-out, albeit one that was very painful. Things around him have disturbed him and the team he captained. Now we have to focus all our attention on tomorrow’s game.”

The 25-year-old has been Inter's leading marksman in Serie A for the last four seasons and is also top scorer this term with nine goals, although he has not hit the target in their last seven league outings.

Icardi has had a turbulent relationship with the club and its fans and often provides fodder for the gossip columns, partly thanks to his marriage to Argentine media personality Wanda Nara, who was previously married to Icardi's former teammate Maxi Lopez.

Mauro Emanuel Icardi of FC Internazionale embraces his wife Wanda Nara at the end of the Serie A match between FC Internazionale and AC Milan at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on October 21, 2018 in Milan, Italy.

Mauro Emanuel Icardi of FC Internazionale embraces his wife Wanda Nara at the end of the Serie A match between FC Internazionale and AC Milan at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on October 21, 2018 in Milan, Italy.Getty Images

Nara is also Icardi's agent, and last month the player said she would continue to represent him for the rest of his career following a report in Gazzetta dello Sport that Inter wanted to deal with someone else.

In 2016, Icardi was jeered and insulted by Inter's "ultra" fans during a match against Cagliari after they were angered by a chapter in his autobiography where he described a confrontation with supporters the year before.

Last week, Spalletti appeared to criticise the club for not finalising a deal with Icardi to extend his contract, which still has 2-1/2 years to run.

"This needs to be resolved because when you do things by half, you leave them open to interpretation," said Spalletti after the 1-0 win over Parma on Saturday. "Mauro has been affected by certain situations in the last few weeks."

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