In a shocking move, Inter Milan boss Luciano Spalletti has taken the captain’s armband away from striker Mauro Icardi.
Additionally, the Argentinian will not travel to Vienna for Inter’s Europa League match with Rapid Wien Thursday.
Instead, goalkeeper Samir Handanovic has replaced Icardi as captain of the squad.
Instant reaction would suggest this is a move to put Icardi up for sale during the summer transfer market. Icardi and his wife/agent Wanda Nara have been locked in discussions with the Nerazzurri about a new contract for months now with little to no movement on a potential deal.
During that time, Icardi has struggled on the field, failing to score in the last three matches for the team.
However, Italian football media insider Gianluca Di Marzio offered up another reason why Icardi has taken a backseat … he’s just not a very good captain.
Di Marzio suggested that Icardi hasn’t managed his role as captain on the field well. He apparently isn’t a very vocal player in the locker room and the only time he seems to speak up on the pitch is when he doesn’t get service in front of the net.
That actually seems pretty plausible to me. As a captain, you are the field general. It is your responsibility to put ensure those around you are putting the team’s plan in action.
Let’s be honest, over the last several matches, that doesn’t seem to have happened.
What is interesting is leaving him off the roster for the Europa League match Thursday. It almost seems like Icardi is being put in a corner to think about what he has done … like what you would do to a misbehaving child.
I don’t necessarily disagree with the move as Icardi’s abilities on the pitch have been less than stellar.
What this does do is change the chemistry of the team … quite a bit. Now, the point person will be Handanovic who, by all accounts, seems to be able to communicate with the defensive side of the team. Inter remains one of the best defensive teams in Europe.
It also opens the door for Lautaro Martinez. The hero of the match with Parma last weekend is now in the driver’s seat and has been given the opportunity to show us just what kind of a player he is. He came highly touted from Argentina but has been overshadowed by Icardi.
It is true that Inter have been struggling of late. But, despite that, they are still third in Serie A and have a solid shot at the Europa League title.
This move could be just the wake-up call the team needs to get back to where it needs to be. Granted, it is a big move, but perhaps a shake-up is just what the doctor ordered.
As for Icardi, I certainly hope this move gives him pause. I also hope it allows him to spend more time focusing on his playing and less on being a field leader.
What do you think? Post your comments below!