The Hard Tackle takes a look at three potential destinations for Mauro Icardi, who is at a crossroads once again in his career, with neither PSG nor Inter Milan ready to keep him.
There is probably no better time to be a club looking for a striker in the transfer market than now, with world-class players like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Lautaro Martinez and Timo Werner reportedly ready for a new challenge in their respective careers. In that list of elite players, we also have in the mix a certain Mauro Icardi, currently at Paris Saint-Germain, on loan from Inter Milan.
Icardi is, without a shadow of a doubt, world-class. He has been a prolific goalscorer for a number of years now, and would be a perfect signing for most clubs because of his adaptability. It all sounds a little too perfect, though, for a player who is wanted by neither his parent club nor the club where he is currently plying his trade.
That is because the seasoned international carries with him loads of drama caused by himself and his agent-cum-wife Wanda Nara. According to a report from The Sun, PSG have terminated Icardi’s contract after Wanda revealed that the Argentine wants to return to Italy. A different report, coming from Goal.com stated that Antonio Conte does not wish to include him in his plans at Inter Milan.
The 27-year-old is at a crossroads yet again in his career, after he was forced out by Inter last summer.
Icardi was stripped of captaincy and had been exiled from first-team training for nearly two months after Wanda went on record and ran down his teammates, coach and the board in an attempt to get a better contract offer. While he did return to action towards the end of the season, the conclusion was a derailed campaign for Inter and no future in the team for Icardi.
For the longest time, it seemed like that Icardi would end up out of Europe, but his luck turned after PSG swooped in for him this summer.
He had the perfect honeymoon period with the French capital club, scoring 7 goals in first 6 appearances. His introduction into the French league was helped by several injuries in PSG’s attacking lineup. However, gradually, he has had to play second-fiddle to the likes of Neymar Jr. and Kylian Mbappe.
Icardi, now 27, is yet to hit his theoretical peak, and in his time in France, has made changes to his playing style which include more defensive work in the form of pressing the defenders. He has also worked on his anchor play, and passing, creating nearly 1 goalscoring chance every game.
Inter have already lowered their asking price for the La Masia graduate, ready to accept a bid in the region of €50-€70 million. The Hard Tackle now looks at clubs who can pay this kind of amount, and also suit Icardi’s style of play.
The Ideal Destination: Juventus
Juventus is probably the only club that checks all criteria for Icardi. It’s an Italian club, that can afford both, the transfer fees, and his high wages. Moreover, the Bianconeri seem to have a liking for players managed by Mino Raiola, which means they’re not new to dealing with difficult agents.
Juventus already have six forwards on their payroll at the moment. Moreover, they have completed the signing of Dejan Kulusevski from Parma, and the Swede will be arriving at the Allianz Stadium after the season ends.
However, only Cristiano Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala play centrally. The former two are 35 and 32 respectively, and are entering the final phase of their careers.
So, bringing in a new centre-forward of Icardi’s quality in the summer wouldn’t hurt Juventus. On top of that, the 27-year-old will fit quite well into Maurizio Sarri’s system at Juventus: a perfect mix of possession-based and counter attacking football.
The Argentine international has plenty experience in Italy and has topped Serie A’s scoring charts two times, once in 2014/15 and again in 2017/18. He’d make for an incredible transfer and would probably be an upgrade on anyone at Juventus, barring Ronaldo, taking the Old Lady one step closer to Champions League glory.
The style fits, but the drama does not: Atletico Madrid
Mauro Icardi is probably Diego Simeone’s dream striker apart from his defensive contribution. He’s quick, strong, has a good header in him, and most importantly is not afraid of fighting on the pitch.
The former Inter man would fit very well in a 4-4-2, playing up top with Golden Boy winner Joao Felix. Icardi is used to being supplemented by a second striker cum attacking midfielder, as he has played in formations similar to this in Inter and PSG.
Los Colchoneros, like Juventus lack forwards both in terms of quality and quantity. They have Alvaro Morata, who has been inconsistent for way too long and is yet to rediscover his best form carrying the costs for Atleti. Simeone’s second choice for that role is soon to be 32-year-old Diego Costa.
However, they do have 22-year-old Ivan Saponjic who can play as a striker. They signed the Serb from Benfica’s academy but he has only registered 11 minutes for the club and will probably be sent out on loan.
It’s fair to say El Cholo has a dilemma on his hands, with Atletico linked to 33-year-old Edinson Cavani. They clearly have an acute lack of depth in attack, and might have to look at Icardi as an option and accept Wanda at the Wanda Metropolitano.
The ‘probably won’t happen, but will be a great transfer if goes through’: Chelsea
Chelsea have had problems with their centre-forwards for a while now. More specifically since the departure of Diego Costa. Morata was bought from Real Madrid to take over the reins from Costa, but was not even half the player as his international teammate for the Blues.
These issues have got a fix after Frank Lampard’s arrival at Stamford Bridge in the form of Tammy Abraham, who has netted 13 goals in 25 appearances for Chelsea. Unfortunately, the Blues do not have players who fight Abraham for the starting spot. Their only backups at the moment are Olivier Giroud, whose deal is about to expire and Michy Batshuayi, who has looked out of his depth at the top level.
Icardi is the perfect player for this role, and it will only give Abraham an extra incentive to fight for his place. We’ve seen this season that Lampard is ready to drop important players if they’re not performing. Case in point: world’s most expensive goalkeeper, Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Starting from his very first interview at the club, Lampard has promised attacking football that based around young, creative players. All his games from that moment are a testament to that statement. Furthermore, bringing in a creative wizard like Hakim Ziyech is also proof of the same.
His team is built around wingers and midfielders who do most of the work so there would be no pressure on Icardi to try to create. He’d be there doing what he does best – finishing chances.
What gives Chelsea an extra incentive for this deal is that the 27-year-old is of a very similar profile as Abraham. A poacher who relies on his off-the-ball movement and other’s ability to create chances. Icardi is probably the best mentor the Englishman can get – at least on the pitch.