Deliberately alienating your captain, star player and top striker may not seem like a good idea – but Inter are right to outcast Mauro Icardi
Like a soap opera, the struggle between one of the biggest clubs in Serie A and one of the best strikers in the world – partnered by his wife and agent – is grabbing all the headlines in Italy.
Inter forward Mauro Icardi and his very vocal partner Wanda Nara went too far this time, and Inter reacted by stripping the captain of his armband last week. The consequences of this are still to be fully unravelled.
Inter finally showed they can keep their back straight and put up with a player who has given the club a lot, but has also demanded a lot – money first, but also love and then captain’s armband. He has scored a lot of goals, and did well individually, but over his time at the club Inter have won nothing. This has to count for something.
It all started off back in December with the decision to have contract negotiations, with the agent and the player demanding better wages than the current 4.5 million euro net per year, until 2021. Nara demanded up to 10 million euro, the club offering around six initially. It wasn’t a necessity, seeing how long the current deal still lasts, and therefore seemed egotistical from the player and the agent.
The agent and wife decided to make the negotiations public – a tactic used in the past for the most recent contract renewal – and started a fight with the club through social media posts and TV appearances.
A less than Wanda-ful way to negotiate for Icardi
Wanda Nara – who boasts 4.7 million followers on Instagram – is also a regular guest on Tiki Taka, a football TV show in Italy. Here she recently spoke out against Icardi’s team mates, slagging off their abilities and saying: “Icardi would rather the club bought better footballers to help him, rather than paying him more.” A step too far. Two days later, the club announced Icardi was no longer the captain, suggesting the changing room had rejected the Argentine’s authority following his wife’s words.
Here is the main issue. What Wanda Nara said on TV is not acceptable for any agent. As former Inter captain and Legend Giuseppe Bergomi pointed out: “I would have sacked my agent had he done something like that, because I’m the one who then has to share the changing room with my team mates.”
The problem is she has a triple role – the agent, the TV pundit, and more importantly the wife. A wife is the closest person to a footballer – one would imagine – so her words could easily be thought of being in line with Icardi’s thoughts. The Argentinean’s team-mates felt offended by being slagged off, as if it had been their own captain saying those words. It is difficult to blame them.
Action from the club was inevitable. After stripping Icardi of the armband, he refused to join the squad on two consecutive outings, officially for a small injury, putting himself further against Inter. Both sides are trying to sort things out, but it’s tough to tell what can happen now.
Of course, this move from the club could lead to one big problem for Inter: a devaluation of the player. His buy-out clause is worth 110 million euros, but if he doesn’t play, and wants to leave, nobody will pay that amount. A side effect Inter had surely thought of, also evaluating what this move brings in credibility and strength to the club.
Also, Icardi isn’t in an ideal situation himself. Which club will be willing to make such a big investment on someone who is surely a top class striker, but also carries with him a series of potential issues?
Inter have done well to react to a situation that was becoming toxic in the changing room, and the recent team performances show that in fact, the Nerazzurri are decent without their star man. The club showed strength and discipline, and put the team ahead of the individual. The right decision, always, in a team sport. Now it is down to Icardi to say sorry and get back to scoring goals. It’s in everyone’s interest.