Inter director Beppe Marotta insists stripping Mauro Icardi of the captaincy “has nothing to do with the contract” and won’t affect his future at San Siro.
The game with Sampdoria kicks off at 17.00 GMT, click here for the line-ups and Liveblog.
The build-up to the match was dominated by Icardi’s absence, as he was stripped of the captaincy on Wednesday, then pulled out of the squad for both the Europa League tie with Rapid Vienna and this evening in Serie A, officially with a knee injury.
Meanwhile, Icardi’s wife and agent Wanda Nara has today been sending Twitter messages cheering on the team.
“I consider it a show of love for the club. There has never been great tension, other than the directors and Coach, who had to make a decision,” Marotta told Sky Sport Italia.
“It was not a disciplinary matter against the lad, but rather a change that we considered better for the team, club and Icardi himself. It was not degrading for him, but sometimes these changes do have to be made.
“Icardi is only 25 years old, let’s not forget, it’s unfair to expect too much from him. We wanted to keep the culture of victory and winning mentality going, to cultivate it.”
The situation almost became tragic yesterday morning, as Wanda’s car was struck by a rock while she was driving with her children in the back.
“I exchanged some messages with her and showed our utmost solidarity, because let’s not forget also there are five children involved here, it was absolutely unacceptable.
“She was very nice and appreciative of our affection, as she always has been. We’ve never had a problem dealing with her.”
It is still not entirely clear what prompted the club to remove the armband from Icardi and hand it to Samir Handanovic in such cold fashion, announced with a brief statement.
“The Coach was heavily involved in the decision and it had more to do with the behaviour on a daily basis rather than any one-off incidents.
“It’s a growth process and we decided to make this change to help everyone progress together as a group. Sometimes the head of a household has to take an unpopular decision for the good of the family.”
Marotta was asked if Icardi really was suffering from a knee injury.
“When a player feels pain, it is our duty to believe them. We’ll see if his condition improves going forward. It’s a long campaign, we want to continue in the Europa League too, and we trust this discussion will be resolved.
“It was said you don’t air your dirty laundry in public, but that’s impossible nowadays with social media and constant coverage, so we had to take the route of openness.
“The armband is not just symbolic, the person who wears it must be considered a leader. We want to all grow together and eliminate certain toxins that had perhaps crept in during recent months.
“I read many things, but the contract has nothing to do with it. The negotiations will continue in the predicted time-frame and we will make our proposal at the right time, of course.
“This is a different situation, it has to do with the group dynamics, dealing with the club and dealing with the fans outside of the locker room.
“I told Wanda, as the player’s representative, that we’ll send a proposal over the next few weeks. There are some issues to be dealt with first and we must evaluate some figures. The contract has nothing to do with it.”