Sporting Director Provides Update on Mauro Icardi Situation After Forward Is Stripped of Captaincy

?Inter sporting director Piero Ausilio has said that Mauro Icardi remains an important part of the club and hopes to hold onto the striker for a long time, despite being stripped of the captaincy this week. 

The story exploded when Inter, rather strangely, released a statement confirming that the armband had been taken from Icardi and given to goalkeeper Samir Handanovic ‘for the good of the club’.

After the number nine was subsequently left out for their Europa League trip to Rapid Vienna, many jumped to the conclusion that his days at the club were numbered, and though it later ?emerged that this was due to an injury, the player himself would add fuel to the fire with a cryptic Instagram post. 


In the latest development to what is already becoming one of the overplayed stories of the season, however, Ausilio has come out in defence of the player – saying the situation has no bearing on his first-team or contract status. 

“A decision was made that everyone agreed with, and it was a painful one to make,” he told Sky Sport, via ?FourFourTwo. “The reasons are serious and valid; there’s nothing to explain.

“Mauro remains important to us. He still has a lot to give to ?Inter. We are not questioning him as a professional or as a striker, which is why I hope he stays with us for a long time yet. ‘Us’ is the key word here and must always prevail for the good of the club and the changing room.”

He continued: “We have taken measures – and it’s the last thing we would have wanted to do – after letting something slide in the past. It might seem like a step backwards, but in terms of the future it’s 10 steps forward.

Mauro Emanuel Icardi

“We’ll speak with Icardi, although it’s not right to speak of talks to clear the air because he’s never been put in discussion and he’s a great player. If he likes, we’ll set conditions to follow. Contract discussions have in no way been affected by these events – it’s a totally different subject.”

He has since been linked with a ?sensational move to Juventus, so it could be interesting to see how this one develops in the summer months. 

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90min’s Definitive European Power Rankings: Week 21 – BAFTA Awards Special

Following a week in which: 

– Manchester City scored an incredible amount of goals.

– Jan Vertonghen put in an incredible performance at left back for Tottenham Hotspur.

– Kylian Mbappe continued to be incredible.

We rank European football teams, using quotes from 2019’s BAFTA winning films.*

*Except for Bohemian Rhapsody, because it’s a horrific film about a horrific band.


15. Ajax? (Re-Entry) 

Hakim Ziyech

“You know man, in the ol’ days, I always knew, like, you were going to do something, that you’d be alright. It’s the first time I’m worried about you.” (A Star Is Born) 

‘There’s a bright future ahead for Ajax.’ 

Is what was (roughly) exclaimed by a commentator during the Ajax vs. Real Madrid game. And while there is a lovely sentiment behind such a statement, it’s not exactly true. 

Ajax do have a great young squad – there’s no denying it. 

The problem with the commentator aforementioned comment however, is that it won’t be their ‘great young squad’ for much longer. With Frenkie de Jong already sold to Barcelona and literally every club in the world vying for Matthijs de Ligt’s signature, Tuesday night felt like the beginning of the end for this Ajax team; rather than the beginning of a…um…well…beginning. 


14. Benfica (New Entry) 

Jonas,Alex Grimaldo,Rafa Silva,Filip Krovinovic,Andre Almeida

“I think it’s a Banksy.” (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse)

10-0.

Last weekend, Benfica scored ten goals and conceded zero. 

Benfica beat Nacional 10-0!!!

This result can mean one of two things, either: 

– Benfica are really, really, really good. 

– Nacional are really, really, really bad.

I’d like to think it’s the former. ?


13. Atalanta (Down 3) 

Duvan Zapata

“That’s not how it goes.” (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse)

Atalanta, it’s not you, it’s me. 

La Dea fans may feel a little aggrieved when they see that their team have dropped three places in this week’s Definitive European Power Rankings. 

They did win last weekend. 

Duvan Zapata did score (as he always does). 

Other teams did too though, and with the Definitive European Power Rankings being so hotly contested week in, week out, sometimes a win over S.P.A.L. just isn’t enough. Sorry. 


12. SSC Napoli (Down 1) 

Gerson,Allan

“It’s a…complicated world.” (Green Book)

Hopes of winning first Scudetto since the Diego Maradona era have been vanquished by a Juventus team who just. Won’t. Stop. Winning. 

But hopes of winning a first European trophy since the Diego Maradona era are still alive and well. 

?Napoli recorded a comfortable win over FC Zurich in the first leg of the round of 32 on Thursday night, and are now undoubtedly one of the favourites to lift the stupidly big trophy in May. 


11. AC Milan (Up 4) 

Krzysztof Piatek

“I believe this can work.” (Vice)

Are ?AC Milan…good? 

They might be. 

A few months ago they were DEFINITELY terrible, but the signings of Lucas Paqueta and Krzysztof Piatek have changed everything. 

Now, after a myriad of false dawns, I Rossoneri fans finally believe that this ‘project’ can work. 


10. Bayern Munich (Up 2)

Thiago

“Every human has great potential that can be developed through physical training. But most importantly, through the evolution of the mind.” (Roma)

There’s been teething problems. 

A whole lot of teething problems. 

The molars still aren’t fully out. 

There’s a gap between the two front teeth. 

However, ?Bayern are doing alright. And if they trust Niko Kovac, Serge Gnabry, Alphonso Davies and co., FC Hollywood have the potential to be the best team in Europe once again.  


9. Manchester United (Down 2)

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

“The world’s full of lonely people afraid to make the first move.” (Green Book) 

?Manchester United: MAKE THE MOVE.

GIVE OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER THE JOB.

HE DESERVES IT. 

‘But what about the PSG defeat? That was pretty bad…’

FORGET ABOUT THAT. HE’S WORKED WONDERS WITH THIS SIDE. THE PLAYERS LOVE HIM. THE FANS LOVE HIM. 

GIVE HIM THE JOB.


8. Borussia Dortmund (Down 7) 

Thomas Delaney

“Stalked by tragedy.” (The Favourite) 

Down seven. Yes, down seven.

This week has been that bad for ?Borussia Dortmund. But it shouldn’t really be much of a surprise. 

With Marco Reus, Manuel Akanji, Paco Alcacer Julian Weigl and Lukasz Piszczek all on the sidelines, BVB’s squad  depleted in a big, big way. 

When you’re forced to start Dan-Axel Zagadou, bad things – like a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur – will happen. And they did. 


7. Real Madrid (Up 2)

Karim Benzema

“Mountains are old, but they’re still green.” (Roma) 

We’ve suspected it for a few weeks, and it’s now official: ?Real Madrid are back. 

Los Blancos followed up an impressive 3-1 win away to Atletico Madrid with an even more impressive win over Ajax in the UEFA Champions League to prove that, yes, Luka Modric, Sergio Ramos, Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale, Marcelo, etc. are still pretty good. 

Who’d have thought it…?


6. Liverpool (Down 1) 

James Milner

“‘Queen, you are mad. Giving me a palace. This is a monstrous extravagance. Mrs. Molly, we are at war.’

‘We won.’

‘Oh, it is not over. We must continue.’

‘Oh. Well, I did not know that.'” (The Favourite) 

“DOWN ONE?! HOW?!”

“HOW CAN LIVERPOOL DROP ONE THIS WEEK EVEN THOUGH THEY WON?!”

“PATHETIC.”

Ok, ok, I get it. Every week you guys are upset by where ?Liverpool are in 90min’s Definitive European Power Rankings. I. Get. It. 

Liverpool are down one this week because even though they won an important game on Saturday, put simply, other teams in Europe had more impressive. So chill out, ok? 


5. Paris Saint-Germain (Up 3)

Kylian Mbappe

“Unless you get out there and try to do it, you’ll never know. That’s just the truth. If there’s one reason we’re suppose to be here is to say something so people wanna hear it. So you gotta grab it and you don’t apologise you don’t worry about why they’re listening or how long they’re gonna be listening for. You just tell em what you wanna say.” (A Star Is Born) 

Kylian Mbappe. 

That’s why Paris Saint-Germain have broken into the top five of 90min’s Definitive European Power Rankings. 

How can he be this good? How is it possible? How?!


4. Barcelona (Down 2)

Del Cerro Grande,Lionel Messi,Sergio Busquets

If you have power, people will always try to take it from you. Always.” (Vice)

For only the second time this season, ?Barcelona failed to score in a game. 

Being held to a goalless draw by a dogged Athletic Bilbao side obviously isn’t the end of the world (especially when you’re top of the league), but the draw may have shown the rest of La Liga how to quell Barca’s attacking threat. 

And it’s a pretty simple tactic to utilise: kick them. Kick them a lot. Just don’t stop kicking them.


3. Tottenham Hotspur (Up 3)

Mauricio Pochettino

“Look at me. All you got to do is trust me. That’s all you got to do.” (A Star Is Born) 

– Jan Vertonghen is the best left back AND centre back in England.

– Son Heung-min is the best player in England.

– Mauricio Pochettino is a wizard.

These are the reasons ?Tottenham Hotspur beat Borussia Dortmund 3-0 in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday. 


2. Juventus (Up 2) 

Mario Mandzukic

“My old man always told me good things come to those who wait.” (Blackkklansman)

?Juventus recorded another win in Serie A at the weekend…which isn’t much of a surprise, and probably doesn’t really matter.

What does matter for La Vecchia Signora this season is the UEFA Champions League; a competition they haven’t won since 1996.

For Juventus, the 2018/19 season hinges upon European glory. If they win the Champions League, the 2018/19 season was a success. If they don’t, then the 2018/19 season will go doe as one of the most disappointing in recent memory. 


1. Manchester City (Up 2) 

Raheem Sterling,Bernardo Silva

“I am the Queen.” (The Favourite) 

?Manchester City’s recent form: 

Played: 13

Won: 12

Drawn: 0

Lost: 1

Goals Scored: 45

Goals Conceded: 6

Goal Difference: 39

If I was a Liverpool fan, I’d be afraid. Very, very afraid. 


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Luciano Spalletti Praises Lautaro Martinez for ‘Great Performance’ as Inter Eek Out First Leg Win

Luciano Spalletti singled out Lautaro Martinez for praise after the striker scored the winner in Inter’s 1-0 Europa League victory at Rapid Wien on Thursday.

The Argentine smashed home a penalty after being brought down in the box, sealing an important victory for the Nerazzurri who were without star man Mauro Icardi after the forward was stripped of the club’s captaincy and fell injured before the game.

Speaking after the game, Spalletti praised the 21-year-old, stating his performance was one of the key factors in I?nter’s ?victory.

He said, as quoted by Inter’s ?official w?ebsite: ?“He had lots of responsibility and we have to give him credit because he put in a great performance.

SK Rapid Wien v FC Internazionale - UEFA Europa League Round of 32: First Leg

“He often helped the team get forward with the ball at his feet, he pressed, he won the penalty and he took it. A lot from the result is thanks to his desire to fight for every ball. 

“Centre forward is his role, he’s in his element there and he needs to show that he’s always lethal inside the area. But he’s a strong player and he has quality in tight spaces, he can turn with an opponent on his back and get a shot away.”

Inter now have a great chance to secure qualification to the last 16 in the return leg at San Siro next week and Spalletti also thanked the club’s fans for their turnout in Vienna.


He added: “For them, it’s always Saint Valentine’s Day because they always show their love for Inter. They’re always there for us wherever we go. They were also here in huge numbers today.”

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Rapid Wien 0-1 Inter: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Martinez Gives Inter Victory in First Leg

Inter proved they could cope without star player Mauro Icardi as they defeated Rapid Wien 1-0 in the first leg of their Europa League round of 32 clash at the Allianz Stadion on Thursday.

The Nerazzurri dominated the first half without posing too much of a threat to the Rapid goal, until referee Tobias Stieler awarded the Italian side a penalty after Lautaro Martinez was fouled by Manuel Thurnwald.

??Martinez picked himself up to take the penalty, smashing the ball down the centre of Strebinger’s goal to put ?Inter a goal to the good in Austria with his seventh goal of the season.

??

Rapid should have scored when Valon Berisha worked his way to the byline before sliding a ball across the box to an unmarked Knasmullner, whose first time drive was terrifically stopped by a quick reaction save from Slovenian Samir Handanovic. 

The chance for Knasmuller proved to be Rapid’s best chance of the game, as they failed to muster any other shots on target during the 90 minutes, as Inter held on to take a slender 1-0 lead back to Italy. 


?Rapid Wien

Key Talking Point

With Inter dropping down from the Champions League into the Europa League, Rapid Wien were undoubtedly underdogs going into the game after they qualified for the knockout rounds.

SK Rapid Wien v FC Internazionale - UEFA Europa League Round of 32: First Leg

In truth, Rapid Wien never really threatened an upset as Inter controlled the game. They face a tough task of turning the game around at San Siro in the second leg.


Players Ratings

Starting XI: Strebinger (6), Potzmann (5), Sonnleitner (5), Hofmann (6), Bolingoli-Mbombo (5), Grahovac (5), Ljubicic (5), Thurnwald (4), Schwab (5), Ivan (6), Berisha (5).

Substitutes: Schobesberger (6), Knasmullner (6).


Inter

Key Talking Point

After a disgruntled ?Mauro Icardi refused to travel to Vienna for the game due to being stripped of the captaincy, it was going to be interesting to see how his Inter teammates responded to his absence.

Lautaro Martinez,Joan Miranda

Inter did what they had to do without being spectacular. They grabbed an away goal, which sets them up nicely for the home return leg. Icardi’s replacement Lautaro Martinez also put in a decent display, perhaps showing Nerazzurri fans that the club could cope without their top scorer.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Handanovic (6), Asamoah (7), Miranda (7), De Vrij (7), Cedric (5), Valero (6), Vecino (7), Perisic (7), Nainggolan (6), Politano (6), Martinez (8*).

Substitutes: Candreva (5), D’Ambrosio (5).


STAR MAN – Argentinian striker Lautaro Martinez lead the line in the absence of former club captain Mauro Icardi and took his opportunity to impress, winning and converting a first half penalty to give Inter the advantage going into the return leg.

The 21-year-old showed bags of energy and flair, as he proved a constant threat for the Rapid defenders.

SK Rapid Wien v FC Internazionale - UEFA Europa League Round of 32: First Leg


WORST PLAYER – It was a clumsy performance from Portugal international Cedric. The on-loan Southampton full-back looked rusty as he mistimed several challenges during the game.


Looking Ahead


Rapid Wien have a Austrian Cup quarter final to contest on Sunday, as they take on Hartberg at the Allianz Stadion.

Inter travel to Sampdoria on Sunday in ?Serie A as they continue to try to establish their position within the top four.

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Mauro Icardi: Ranking 6 Potential Next Destinations Following Inter Captaincy Strip

It’s been a chaotic couple of days for Mauro Icardi. Well, in truth, a chaotic campaign altogether. 

Marred by his ongoing contractual saga, which has apparently seen him lose the Inter captaincy, Icardi has struggled to maintain his usual consistency. However, he has still been at the heart of everything the Nerazzurri have done well, notching 15 goals and three assists in 28 appearances. 

He remains the most clutch number nine in football right now, and at 25 is the hottest striking commodity that appears somewhat available on the market. 

So, if Inter can’t meet his (and Wanda’s) demands here are six suitors who just might, ranked for suitability:

6. Paris Saint-Germain

Kylian Mbappe,Neymar,Edinson Cavani

Ahh, Paris Saint-Germain. Guaranteed dominance of the league goes hand in hand with European ignominy and a load of cash. 

Plus there’s the added complication of a competitive field, with the Parisians already in possession of a highly potent frontline. Of course, whether that will stay this way beyond the summer remains to be seen. However, Kylian Mbappe only seems to growing into the number nine position. 

As I said, if you fancy cash and trophies for old rope, then by all means. But if you value competition and team success, as it seems you do, Mauro, then give it a miss.

5. Bayern Munich

Bayern Munchen v Schalke 04 - German Bundesliga

Ok, Bayern have clearly got a loyal following, a decent enough atmosphere and some sturdy team spirit. But do they have the quality of depth to truly challenge on the biggest stage? 

It’s an ageing squad over in Bavaria, and while that leaves some spots open for rebuilding, the man up top – Robert Lewandowski – remains almost as sharp as ever. Also, their record transfer fee is still just €41.5m. Are they really going to sufficiently invest around you if they’ve already coughed up €100m or more? Doubt it. 

4. Juventus

Cristiano Ronaldo

The Auld Enemy. I mean, the Old Lady, but still, same thing really. It’s a dirty, dirty move to switch Milan for Turin, but it’s certainly not unprecedented. 

Perhaps more pressing for a man who’s had no qualms squabbling with Inter’s ultras in the past, is that man up there. Sure, he’s a 34-year-old now, but he’s also still an alien. So can you really take a chance on someone like that slowing down. 

Yes, there’s always the potential for two up top, but I can’t see Cristiano Ronaldo being too accomodating, can you?

3. Chelsea

Gonzalo Higuain

What’s not to like? 

Well, maybe quite a lot, but still, Mauro, give love a chance. Because Chelsea fans would unequivocally love you, no holds barred. Gonzalo Higuain? He’s just warming your seat. But, if you want him to stay for some nice compatriot company, that can definitely be arranged. Higuain’s great too. 

Yes, there’s upheaval, managerial uncertainty, and the potential for no Champions League football and no Eden Hazard, but apart from that, it’s the dream! Honest. You’ll be a legend.

2. Barcelona

FC Barcelona v Real Madrid - Copa del Rey Semi Final

Old haunts. Old flames. Reconnection. Redemption. 

There’s nothing quite like it, is there? It’s a story told thousands of times over, yet it never gets old. And this is the opportunity that awaits at Barcelona – the chance to play for the team that forgoed you, a chance to play with the player you sought to emulate all those years ago. Lionel Messi. 

But also, a less overwhelming Messi. A latter-day Messi, willing to share the limelight. Yes, he’s ‘best buds’ with Luis Suarez right now, but how long can that last, especially with the Uruguayan’s knees. It’s time for a new Sheriff at the Nou Camp.

1. Real Madrid

Real Madrid CF v Deportivo Alaves - La Liga

Conversely, you could shove all that lovey-dovey sh*te in the bin, and opt for sustained European excellence instead. 

Because you know what’s an even more prevalent story being told in this day and age? Revenge. And it’s best served ice cold, baby. You just saw it yourself, Barca abandoned you. They left you to rot. Fed you to the dogs. They didn’t care if they ever saw your face again. 

And now they want to backtrack? They want to bring you back? F*@& THAT. And, if you think Luis Suarez is dispensible, then look no further than Karim Benzema. Sure, he may be in the form of his life, but do you think Real Madrid care? Not a jot. He’s 31. He’s washed. He’s out of there the second you arrive. So, where’s your pen? 

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