Mauro Icardi offers up the perception that he is the stereotypical modern-day footballer due to a plethora of items, images and angles he allows others to see, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. He has not been without controversy, but his response to Real Madrid’s recent interest is another glimpse into his personality. The words that if Real called he would “not answer the phone” will no doubt please many in Milan, and even though his wife and agent will not rule it out, it seems he is happy at the club, but more importantly in the city.
Wanda Nara said of her husband in a recent interview: “You will see he will still improve because no one, not even him, knows his limits.” It was for this reason that she spoke freely of why, that in spiralling market her husband is worth €200m. His 16 goals in 15 games are testament to this again this season, but the fact that he has been consistent since 2013-14, racking up 87 goals in total, it is not hard to see why. He is still 24 years of age and has shown again under another Coach, this time Luciano Spalletti, that he can take on information and improve.
This form and some rather clever work from his agent earned him a contract extension to 2021 with a hefty €110m release clause. Even now it seems like this may be too little in the current climate, but his desire to stay in Milan is evident and, as he recently said, he will only leave if pushed. The way the contract was acquired however, was not altogether palatable for the Inter faithful and he and Wanda conducted a good cop, bad cop scenario, with Mauro claiming he wanted to stay whilst his wife touted him around Europe.
Icardi has not been without his critics, just ask most on the Curva Nord or anyone associated with Maxi Lopez. The way he and wife Wanda got together whilst at Sampdoria and the issues that followed, the playboy image, the Instagram account, the falling out with the Curva, the book and many more issues, confirm he hasn’t always made the right choices, yet the image is misconstrued.
Icardi is in fact a family man who loves the city of Milan and enjoys playing football despite having no interest in it whatsoever. Whilst perhaps not at the Garrincha level of interest (he knows who they are playing come game day), he admits he knows little about it, watches no games and watched movies whilst at Barcelona rather than the team despite living near the Nou Camp. He admitted his tastes are a bit uncouth perhaps and this draws attention, but insists his wife refers to him as a 40-year-old in a 20-year-old’s body. Speaking back in 2015 he insisted that his happiness depended on simply family and location, so perhaps this is good news for the Nerazzurri fans.
Icardi is to many the embodiment of this new age of football, but instead he has an essence of the old. His love for a city and simply playing the game is refreshing, so money is of course a huge element in his decision, but it isn’t everything. Whilst he doesn’t have the clean-cut image of Javier Zanetti or Paolo Maldini (the latter also had issues with the Ultras), he does embody loyalty and is a phenomenal talent. The potential for longevity could make him a long serving legend at the club and another Captain fantastic.
Whilst there are no guarantees that the Argentine striker will buck the trend if Real Madrid come calling with a buy-out clause offer, there is a chance. His lack of love for football other than in the beautiful simplicity of playing the game and his love instead for family and stability, may just be as big an asset for Inter as his goals are. Imagine how may goals he could manage in another six to eight years with the Nerazzurri? It could be incredible.
Whilst Icardi in the past has certainly been a focal point for conversation due to off the field activities, he is now maturing to a level where other than his football, he is much ado about nothing.