The arrival of the final international break of the season means that it is unfortunately time for the Italian press to start filling their papers with transfer talk again, such is the lack of actual football that they have to write about during this fortnight of friendlies.
As a result one would imagine that we are going to be hearing a lot over the next two weeks about Mauro Icardi and his contract situation at Inter, and sure enough Tuesday’s Gazzetta dello Sport has already got the ball rolling in that sense by publishing an extended interview with his wife and agent, Wanda Nara.
Along with the inevitable questions relating to her record-breaking husband’s future, though, Wanda also discussed several other issues during the interview; including what Mauro is like as a father, how well he gets on with coach Luciano Spalletti and whether those peculiar rumours involving him and Marcelo Brozovic actually had any truth behind them.
Un partido para el recuerdo.. en esta cancha metí mi Primer gol en la Serie A, hoy llegue a 103 gracias a los 4 goles. Cosas del destino. También pude festejar Goles con la camiseta del Inter con este Poker. Gracias a todos mis compañeros que lo hicieron posible. Nada mas que decir, simplemente Disfrutar. ⚽️⚫️ #MI9
Did you have your usual flurry of messages and phone calls with Mauro before he scored four goals against Samp on Sunday?
“Normally he messages me before the game and then turns his phone off. On Sunday I just asked him if he’d taken his special 100-goal boots with him. He replied: ‘Let’s hope I can finally wear them.’ And that’s what happened in the second half... it was the perfect afternoon.”
Have you thought about how he reached 103 goals in Serie A and 100 with Inter in the stadium where everything started for him?
“Mauro will always be fond of Sampdoria, he still has friends in Genova and whenever we go back there’s a specific restaurant we like going to. That’s where he first started scoring goals as a youngster, and on Sunday he scored four of them whilst wearing the captain’s armband.”
Speaking of Samp, their President Ferrero said after the game that the reason Mauro scores this much is because he has you ‘stimulating’ him all the time...
“[Laughter] I know Ferrero, I have nothing to do with all of Mauro’s goals...”
He’s certainly spurred on by his family though: what kind of father is he?
“A very present one, he’s always wanting to organise things to do with the kids. With the girls it’s a never-ending stream of love. Every time he returns home is like a party, the problem is when he leaves for away matches with the team. Francesca is always looking for him, she wants to call him endlessly.
“Mauro plays with the big boys but whenever he can he follows Valentino’s matches, he’s just started playing for the Inter Academy. He’s a striker too, although the bits of advice we give him are all to do with enjoying yourself and respecting your opponents.”
He was showered with boos at the weekend: does the attention he receives from opposition fans bother him?
“Definitely not, they don’t unnerve him at all. He’s cold as ice on the pitch. They boo him to try and irritate him.”
Every goal Mauro scores takes him further and further into Inter’s history.
“He was really keen to score this 100th goal for Inter because you can’t delete history. He wanted to do it for the fans as well; he’s the first one to be cheering for Inter each week, he knows what it means to them.”
Wife, mother, agent, businesswoman: do you have any time to yourself these days?
“Us mothers are like that, we’re capable of doing several things at once. Everything’s going well too, even my new line of clothing that’s available online at wancollection.com.
“I’ve always wanted to do things that will have a lasting impact on my children, so seeing as being an agent is more of a male job I needed something for Francesca and Isabella too. They help me out as well; they’re only young but they have a lot of fun with it.”
Do Inter’s fans still have a lot of fun with Icardi ahead of them?
“I can’t predict the future, but what I can say is that we like the project that the Zhang family have for Inter. They want to develop Inter and take it back to Europe’s top table.”
Will qualification for the Champions League be the deciding factor in whether or not Icardi stays at Inter?
“We’ve stayed here these last few years even without the Champions League...”
But this year they have a decent chance of making it, don’t you think?
“I’m a superstitious type, I’d prefer not to respond. But obviously I’d like them to.”
What kind of relationship does Mauro have with Luciano Spalletti?
“A healthy and sincere relationship, like it should be between a captain and the coach. Mauro loves listening to people with more experience than him and learning from them, and in that sense Spalletti is helping him to develop a lot.”
Some people say that Icardi is lethal inside the penalty area but not very useful outside it. Do you agree?
“I wouldn’t change his 100+ goals for anything in the world. When the ball comes to him he does whatever he wants with it.”
Do Sunday’s four goals certify his place amongst Europe’s top strikers?
“The numbers speak for themselves, without getting into technical or tactical questions.”
Piero Ausilio said a while back that Icardi’s contract extension will be sorted out ‘in silence’. Are you in talks with him about that?
“Mauro makes all his noise on the pitch, where he needs to make noise. We’re all very relaxed about the matter. We’re optimistic about his renewal and when I bump into the sporting director at the stadium we have a laugh and a joke together.
“Sometimes I joke with him that Mauro’s value increases with each day that passes. But there’s serenity in the air, no tension.”
So should we expect an increase in wages and a revision of the release clause?
“When you renew a contract you do it to improve the conditions that are already there. But we haven’t thought about the conditions or the figures yet.”
One gets the feeling that you’re going to remain his agent. How is the sponsorship side of things going?
“We’re giving more nos than yeses at the moment, in the sense that nowadays we only look at the quality of the offers we receive and not the quantity.
“To give you an example, each month we get around 4 or 5 offers from clothing brands who want Mauro to endorse their products.”
Is the social media ‘brand’ going well too?
“Yes, but that’s a similar discussion. We try and filter all the photos we post on our profiles. People might not think so but we’re a family with normal habits, typical of a classic family.”
Let’s move from his intimate family to the Argentinian one. Mauro hasn’t been called up for Argentina’s friendlies this month but is the World Cup still a possibility?
“Mauro often says to me when we’re talking about it that whoever will deserve to go to the World Cup will go. Argentina have a handful of world class strikers and so in order to get the call from Sampaoli you need to be in good form and scoring on a regular basis.
“The coach has never decided who to call up based on gossip columns though, he’s always done it based on what’s happening on the pitch.”
Icardi missed four matches in February due to his thigh injury: was that a difficult period for him?
“He was fully focused on getting back to where he wanted to be, or rather on the pitch. He was anxious though, yes. He wanted to make up for lost time and I’d say he did that pretty well on Sunday...”
In all likelihood Lautaro Martinez is going to arrive in July. Do you know him?
“Not personally, but Mauro is ready to welcome him to Appiano Gentile like he’s always done with new signings over the last few years.”
Let’s talk gossip: do you plan to continue taking legal action against those who have been talking about you and Marcelo Brozovic?
“Without a doubt. I don’t respond to everyone, I can’t respond to all the nonsense that’s doing the rounds, but on this occasion we’re going to proceed in the hope of safeguarding our family.”
What kind of relationship does Mauro have with Brozovic and Ivan Perisic?
“A normal relationship, like with the rest of his teammates. Mauro doesn’t talk to the media much so it’s easy for people to invent things.
“He’s a humble guy, a good guy, and the general public have understood him very well.”
You’ve been living in a hotel for a few weeks now while people are doing work on your house: how’s that going?
“Thanks to our friend Barbara Rohner, the General Manage of the Hotel Magna Pars in Milan, it’s like we’re still living at home. We have an entire floor to ourselves and our three dogs - Mauro’s other three children...”