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Now is a good time for Mauro Icardi to return to Inter Milan

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Injury and the fight for the Champions League leaves striker in great spot to be a hero.

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FC Internazionale v SS Lazio- Coppa Italia
Mauro Emanuel Icardi of FC Internazionale is challenged by Francesco Acerbi of SS Lazio during the Coppa Italia match between FC Internazionale and SS Lazio at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on January 31, 2019 in Milan, Italy.
Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Earlier Thursday, Inter Milan physicians confirmed that Lautaro Martinez will likely be out of the Nerazzurri’s next match Sunday with Lazio.

A right thigh injury suffered in Argentina’s friendly win over Morocco will leave the 21-year-old out for at least a week, according to Inter. The club said “he will be evaluated again next week.”

This opened the door for former captain Mauro Icardi to make his return after being out for more than a month. He has not played for Inter since Feb. 9 after he lost the captaincy and elected not to travel to Vienna to face Rapid Wien in the Europa League.

Since that time, Icardi and Inter have been embroiled in drama ranging from Icardi’s wife crying on Italian television, to a battle of words between Inter and Juventus regarding Icardi and Paulo Dybala.

And, of course, a lot in between.

Icardi has already been training with the first team during the international break and has continued now that the break is over.

Because Martinez has started to flourish due to Icardi’s off-field issues, his absence will certainly make a difference as Inter will battle Lazio Sunday.

Now, Icardi has the opportunity to start the process of healing a difficult relationship with the club and Interisti by coming out and making a significant impact during a difficult stretch of the schedule.

This starts Sunday with Lazio.

Inter are third in Serie A, two points clear of AC Milan following a 3-2 win in the Derby della Madonnina prior to the international break. Lazio, on the other hand, are sixth, eight points back of Inter. The top four positions in Serie A will qualify for next season’s Champions League, while fifth and sixth positions will be in the Europa League.

The biggest question will be whether Icardi will embrace the situation which has been placed before him. His image is slightly damaged after the recent battle with management. He could be a little tarnished with his teammates because of the press coverage dedicated to his issues. And, his image with fans is certainly not as stellar as it once was.

But, just as Martinez received an opportunity when Icardi bowed out – and he seemed to take full advantage of that opportunity – the roles are now reversed. Icardi has been given an opportunity to reassert himself due to Martinez being out for the at least the next week.

I would like to think that Icardi understands the current landscape and, whether he decides to stay or go, he has to increase his value some way. If he leaves, he will want that value maximized as much as possible to entice a big club to be interested. If he stays, he has to justify a new contract the club will likely present him.

Now is the perfect time for Icardi to get back on the field and show just what he is capable of. Help this team to Champions League qualification and, leave or stay, he will have gone a long way to erase the negatives that stemmed from this messy ordeal.

But, it will be up to Icardi to take advantage of what has been put right in front of him.


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