In population terms (within city walls), Paris is Europe’s fifth largest city. The French capital is home to some 2.2m people and yesterday that number increased, as Mauro Icardi and wife/agent Wanda Nara decided to move their polarising spectacle to the city of art, fashion and PSG.
Icardi’s transfer to the French champions ended months of internal wrangling, wishful declarations of intent and potential legal ramifications between the striker and Inter.
The Icardi saga hung over the Italian transfer window for the entirety of the summer, like a dark cloud that simply wouldn’t disappear, with multiple deals contingent on whether Inter could persuade him to finally leave the club he genuinely loved. Inter remained steadfast in their position that his time at the club was over, and that, as fellow exile Radja Nainggolan later testified, there would be no second chances, no redemption. Icardi was done at Inter.
Icardi, whether through some utopian dream he had or just borne out of wistful thinking, refused to leave Inter, even going as far as to initiate legal action in the hope of being reintegrated into the squad, citing that he was a victim of mobbing by the Inter hierarchy.
Inter, for once employing a competent director in the shape of Beppe Marotta, knew this maneuver might’ve been a possibility, and so conducted everything by the book, covering themselves. Whilst it can’t be said for certain, but in all likelihood Icardi was informed that he had little legal ground to stand on, and indeed Inter hadn’t deprived him of anything except his preferred shirt number.
In many respects, Icardi’s stance was admirable. He loved Inter, and didn’t particularly want to leave, in an era where players get upset for not having their birthday recognised by their clubs, Icardi remained, publicly at least, level-headed throughout the affair. Players of his undoubted quality have departed clubs for lesser transgressions.
But does PSG represent what’s best for Icardi’s career? It remains to be seen. From a purely sporting perspective, the move most suitable would’ve been to Napoli, who made concerted efforts to sign him all summer.
Carlo Ancelotti has long since felt that Napoli waste too many chances during games, and an attack spearheaded by Icardi, with Lorenzo Insigne, Jose Callejon and Chucky Lozano providing, would’ve been a perfect fit. But Icardi viewed Napoli as a sideways step. If he was going to leave Milan, it was reported he was only interested in Turin or Paris.
How will Icardi fit into a side containing Kylian Mbappé, Edinson Cavani and Neymar? You imagine he will rotate with Cavani, now 32, in Thomas Tuchel’s 4-3-3. Is that a situation that Icardi will be content with?
The most important issue is, can the egos of both he and Neymar co-exist? Is the city of Paris big enough to cope with not just Neymar and his gang of enablers and friends, but with the controversial Wanda/Icardi sideshow, and all the inevitable hoopla that follows? Maybe that was the point, to show Neymar he can’t command all the attention himself.
Icardi has the quality to easily score 20-25 goals in Ligue 1, given the ocean-size disparity between PSG and the rest of the league. However, you suspect that PSG, come the end of the season, may reject the opportunity to sign him on a permanent basis for €65m, if history shows signs of repeating itself at the Parc des Princes.
One thing is certain; we can expect fireworks, both on and off the field.