Saturday January 28 2017
Argentina don't cry for Icardi

There’s a complex relationship between Argentina and Mauro Icardi, but Richard Hall asks if his country is making a huge mistake.

For those that saw Diego Maradona’s star finally fade under the blue Italian sky in Italia 90, this may be a little easier to comprehend. For those have been brought up only seeing the mesmerising skill set of Lionel Messi, then prepare yourself. It’s coming to an end, he won’t be around for ever. The fact that these two players have graced four decades for Argentina is a miracle, this talent is rare. In between, the South American nation have been blessed with the likes of Gabriel Batistuta to ‘get by on’, so knowing all of this, how on earth can Mauro Icardi not be an option for his national team?

The Elephant in the Argentine dressing room (re the Icardi issue) has been here so long that it is almost being called up to sit on the bench, so let’s address it. Whilst at Sampdoria, Icardi played alongside Maxi Lopez, another Argentinian. Rumours circled Lopez had cheated on his wife (Wanda) and the apparently wounded wife decided to choose the more proficient striker for her partner. He subsequently moved to Inter and the two have married, had children and lived out their lives through the means of Instagram. I think that covers it.

Whilst various media outlets will tell you all the details of this ‘situation’, one thing should be made abundantly clear: Icardi is a lethal and prolific goalscorer that even at the tender age of 23 has already notched 62 goals for Inter in only 111 appearances. Above all, he is a forward that Argentina do not currently have.

Nobody is Messi, so best to end that where it started. Gonzalo Higuain, whilst also prolific in Serie A, is a different entity. He is barrel-chested, powerful and capable of the spectacular whilst at the same time he is reliably powerful and efficient. Sergio Aguero often makes you think that he is what Ariel Ortega should have been and is skilful, graceful and sublime, yet still has the fight and tenacity of a street urchin.

However, even if you class these three strikers as a level above Icardi, they have nobody younger than 28 years of age.

So what of the younger generation? Is the Nerazzurri hitman a worse option than Atletico Madrid’s Angel Correa or Atletico Mineiro’s Lucas Pratto? Paulo Dybala should also be included in this superlative list and is perhaps Icardi’s direct competitor, as Carlos Tevez is resigned to the history books and Lucas Alario and Lautaro Acosta don’t yet warrant even talking about in the same breath as Icardi.

Inter’s Number 9 is just that, he is a traditional striker whose movement is as important as his finishing. Let’s not forget his most prolific season was achieved in one of the Nerazzurri’s most abject of campaigns. Imagine what he could do with the creativity of the Argentine national squad behind him.

With this being the case, it seems bizarre that more than one national team Coach has shunned him. ‘Tata’ Martino cited his relationship issues as the reason he left him out of the 2016 Copa America squad. "I always deal in black and white, but over the years I have learned to see some grey area," said Martino. "But regarding the subject of Icardi, we all know what is right and what is wrong. The problem with the media is that they also want me to say things the way they are thinking them and I aspire to do the exact opposite. But on my side, everything is clear.”

Yet Icardi missed out. The striker retorted by blaming the Argentine media for focusing only on his relationship, whilst stating that in Italy he is seen mainly for his footballing attributes and recommending his Coach changes newspaper.

Perhaps things would be different with new Coach Edgardo Bauza? He said at first he would call up Icardi, yet he made it clear that the Number 9 spot belongs to Higuain and his close relationship with Pratto meant that the 23-year-old would now only see action if “anything happened to the other two.” New words it seemed, but the same actions.

With rumours rife that it is the Argentinian public and players who simply don’t want him in the dressing room for his code of conduct surrounding Maxi Lopez, it seems his wait will continue. Whilst their loyalty may be applauded in some cases, their old school male pride may in fact hurt the team long term. It’s also patently ridiculous to continue punishing a couple who now have two children of their own and are settled down. If we’ve learned anything about Wanda, it’s that she’s a strong woman who knows her own mind and could not be ‘stolen’ from her ex-husband without wanting to leave.

Argentina were lucky that Maradona and Messi came so close together and even more fortunate that Batistuta bridged the gap. The next Messi is unlikely to come around again and even more unlikely that he will have the same nationality.

Icardi will never be in that league, but he is the next best thing and they would be remiss to ignore this.

Have your say...
You can all keep talking about how great these Argentine strikers are. But they can't cut it at crunch time. WC Final 2014 = LOST. Coppa America Final 2015 = LOST. Coppa America Final 2016 = LOST.

These guys just don't cut it. I'm not saying Mauro is the answer, but surely to get over that hump, it's worth a shot? How many more finals will be lost?
on the 31st January, 2017 at 4:30pm
"Mauro Icardi has contributed to more goals than any other player in Europe’s top five Leagues this season, scoring 15 and assisting eight"

I will just sit here applauding the Arg NT while this guy keeps killllllllllling it.

How many goals/assists does Dybala have again?????????
Forza Mauro.
on the 31st January, 2017 at 12:07am
Argentina is simply doing it right. Football is not only about on the pitch. It's off the pitch too, in this case, dressing room. Everybody should have some amount of respect to each other to gel and succeed, or otherwise, doomed to fail.
on the 30th January, 2017 at 8:43pm
Aguero is absolutely terrible. Look at his goal record, his 25 per season come in 10-12 games against his weakest opponents. Icardi is one who always makes the difference for Inter.
on the 30th January, 2017 at 6:35pm
Messi, Higuain, Dybala, Aguero....
Then 6 or 7 others, and then Icardi. lol
on the 29th January, 2017 at 11:53pm
come on this Argentina side is packed with the best forwards in world football with the likes of dybala, correa, vietto and simeone coming through do they even really miss icardi at all.

When you think of the likes of milito and lisandro lopez at times in their careers being overlooked for a national call up despite a goal ratio rate for club sides which would make bepe signori envious it is natural for icardi to be kept in the dark.
on the 28th January, 2017 at 10:15pm
Dybala who miss a penalty kick in supercoppa italiana?
Jjust like messi and higuain, another sore loser of cup final.
on the 28th January, 2017 at 8:07pm
Football players are people. We might want them to be role models but they're prone to mistakes and we can't forget that.

Like any professional, they deserve a certain level of respect, but Icardi is not worth it. He has went far below acceptable behaviour as a footballer and human being, Argentina deserve full credit for choosing dignity over his services. Fittingly, his club give him the captain's armband like the lowlives they are.
on the 28th January, 2017 at 4:54pm
Lopez was the winner for not ending up with Wanda and that comment sums up the worthless dribble that Hypocrisy - Politics & Football spews out.
on the 28th January, 2017 at 3:34pm
Icardi, Dybala, Lamela, Correa should be well taken care off, they should all see reasonable minutes and they should fill the acceptance of their country for them, they are young with good talent. Higuian and aguero are big names but the truth is they've contribute less in the NT. Talkmore of Huguian how I wish he's not in the world cup final maybe MESSI will have been a world cup winner and aguero is nothing to write home about in Argentina, the pressure all boils down on MESSI and only him.
on the 28th January, 2017 at 3:16pm
There's more to a player than just scoring goals. Specially when you're representing your country. I applaud the Argentine players and coaches. "Their old school male pride may in fact hurt the team" What does "male" pride got to do with it? And how is Wanda a "strong woman" who settled down? Why do they keep broadcating their life and children through Instagram and Twitter? all while she's dressed and posing like a gold-digger next to the pictures of the children. Not to mention the tweets that are clearly aimed at Maxi just like a true teen drama. She was fined 3 times for breaching the divorce agreement and speaking against Maxi. I can definitley see how she is a strong woman who settled down. The blame is on the male pride.
on the 28th January, 2017 at 1:49pm
I think its great that he gets a rest during international breaks. Icardi did not kidnap Wanda - she left loser Lopez.
on the 28th January, 2017 at 7:47am
Anon must be Italian, he is afraid to choose a name to make his comments. LOL>...and Dybala was mentioned.
on the 28th January, 2017 at 7:46am
Icardi is apparently less welcomed by the Argentina NT. With Higuain, Aguero at peak, and Dybala rising, They are going to be fine without Icardi, and he is not going be missed.
on the 28th January, 2017 at 6:45am
Good assessment of the situation. He's definitely in line for a shot but like it's been said there's WC players in front of him. You figure it really is only a matter of time before he's called up though. Enough time has passed.

I'd still call Dybala [who the writer mentions] over him if it came down to it. Always rated Icardi but he's still an enigma to me. He's everything and nothing...idk LOL
on the 28th January, 2017 at 5:25am
Icardi is overrated... Don't compare him with Messi, Batistuta or Maradona. Argentina will have the next world-class strikers but not Icardi.
His attitude, his scandal ( with Maxi and inter fans ), a man with that kind of problems earns no respect.
Stealing his friend's wife was just cheap gesture (whatever the reason was, Maxi is/was his bestfriend).
Okay he scored goals for Inter, so what? lol.
Give another young strikers from Argentina chances and Argentina definitely won't cry for Icardi
on the 28th January, 2017 at 5:18am
In my personal opinion Icardi is young and stupid and has Wanda tie his shoes it looks like at least from the outside that he cant make one step without asking Wanda if its the right step it seems Wanda seduced him and now controls him but his quality is unquestionable and Argentina is missing out on him even if i personally wouldnt call him up if its going to disrupt the dressing room especially if you consider Dybala, Higuain, Aguero Messi are above him in the pecking order
on the 28th January, 2017 at 3:39am
Dybala was mentioned albeit briefly. If we were to choose between him and Icardi, it simple, how score more? I think its Icardi but Dybala scores a lot of goals too.

Ultimately, they are different players. Icardi is an out and out striker with deadly finishing while Dybala is a forward who create and scores too. They should play together as they should compliment each other. Argentina shall continue to have a very strong attacking force for a foreseeable future.
on the 28th January, 2017 at 1:56am
Icardi has earned the right to be called up, but I'm not sure if he's done any more than Higuian or Aguero has to be given the national team #9 shirt.

One thing is for certain, if he keeps getting overlooked I'd bet his lovely wife will be pushing him to represent Italy instead (if of course he is uncapped by Argentina, which I don't know).

She will waste no time in marketing her man to the hilt, and what better way to do it than with yet more controversy.
on the 28th January, 2017 at 12:51am
LOL. Icardi's got nothing on Dybala (who you didn't even mention). Funny article.
on the 28th January, 2017 at 12:39am

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