Mauro Icardi signing a new contract at Inter is virtually a "100 per cent" certainty, says his wife and agent Wanda Nara.

Inter CEO Giuseppe Marotta insisted the club have "no doubts" Mauro Icardi will sign a new contract, while he said Atletico Madrid defender Diego Godin wants to join.

Despite being contracted until 2021, Inter captain and striker Icardi has been linked with a move away from the Serie A side.

Icardi's agent and wife Wanda Nara said the Argentina international will renew, having previously claimed the 25-year-old was nowhere near extending his contract amid reported interest from Real Madrid and Manchester United.

Speaking prior to Saturday's goalless draw at home to Sassuolo, Marotta said Icardi is close to re-signing.

"We have no doubts that Mauro Icardi will remain here, as we are happy with him and vice versa," Marotta told DAZN. "The only remaining issue is when to put pen to paper on the contracts."

Inter, meanwhile, have been tipped to sign Atletico and Uruguay centre-back Godin as a free agent.

Godin is out of contract at the end of the season and the 32-year-old is reportedly set to join Inter.

Asked about Godin, Marotta said: "I have to underline that Inter have a very strong appeal, as many players are looking for us and agents knock on our door. This is flattering, as it means we represent a reference point in the world of football.

"There are champions who present themselves, that we don't want to let get away, and Godin is one of them. We are ready to welcome such profiles and I want to underline that Godin will be a free agent in June."

Luciano Spalletti bemoaned the lack of class in possession which hindered a lacklustre Inter during their 0-0 home draw against Sassuolo.

Inter were fortunate to escape with a point from their first Serie A fixture of 2019 after conceding the best of the chances to a well-organised Sassuolo.

Goalkeeper Samir Handanovic was forced into five saves at San Siro including a crucial close-range denial of Jeremie Boga in stoppage time.

The result left Inter, who have been linked with a January move for Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil, at risk of slipping seven points behind second-placed Napoli.

"It was a tough night because Sassuolo played a good game," Spalletti said of Saturday's sub-par showing.

"We couldn't control the game. Even when we did well to get the ball back, we then lost it again too quickly meaning that we were unable to make the most of the moment and get men over.

"We needed to do better in those situations before their defence could settle in place. We didn't have enough quality on the ball and you need that against sides like Sassuolo who run a lot.

"We were overwhelmed by their defensive line and Sassuolo also caused us some problems. In the end, we also ran the risk of losing.

"However, you always have to look at the glass half full and we need to keep getting results to avoid running the risk of other teams catching us up.

"We need to keep working and improving, we also want to do well in the Europa League and the Coppa Italia in order to consolidate our status."

Inter's failure to find a way through the visitors was surprising given Sassuolo had shipped nine goals in their final two Serie A fixtures last year.

Sassuolo boss Roberto De Zerbi commended his players on keeping the hosts at bay with relative comfort.

"We made a real team performance with the right focus and concentration in all areas of the field," De Zerbi said.

"I'm satisfied. It was only a pity not to make more of our opportunities."

Inter rode their luck on the way to an underwhelming 0-0 home draw against Sassuolo in their first Serie A outing of 2019.

Roberto De Zerbi's men created the best of the opportunities and will count themselves unfortunate not to have snapped what is now a five-match winless streak in all competitions.

San Siro was closed to all but 11,000 local children as Inter began a two-match stadium closure following the alleged racial abuse of Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly last month, although there was no lack of intensity in an entertaining contest.

Matteo Politano and Kevin Prince-Boateng both went close to a winner either side of half-time but, unable to find a way past a team that conceded nine times in their final two league fixtures of last year, the Nerazzurri can have few complaints over a result that leaves them four points behind second-placed Napoli, who host Lazio on Sunday.

Inter had lost seven of their last eight Serie A meetings with Sassuolo and found themselves on the back foot during the opening 25 minutes.

Manuel Locatelli burst through midfield and fired one shot wide while Boateng and Domenico Berardi both tested Samir Handanovic.

The impressive Politano helped turn the tide by posing problems at the other end and, from Ivan Perisic's cross, forced Andrea Consigli into a sharp close-range save on the half-hour mark.

The end-to-end action continued after the interval as Boateng rose unchallenged to meet Locatelli's left-sided cross, but his header was straight at Handanovic.

Inter's grip on a point looked tenuous until the end and they were indebted to veteran goalkeeper Handanovic and centre-back Milan Skriniar for blocking close-range efforts from Jeremie Boga and Mehdi Bourabia amid a scramble in the box late in proceedings.


What does it mean? Calm needed over Icardi contract talks

Inter officials are confident that the protracted negotiations surrounding Mauro Icardi's contract extension will soon be resolved and it certainly seems a case of the sooner the better for a variety of reasons.

In addition to warding off overseas interest, a conclusion to the ongoing discussions would surely aid Icardi in delivering more influential performances than the rather anonymous showing he served up on Saturday.

Locatelli flourishes on return to Milan

AC Milan may regret their decision to allow Locatelli to leave for Sassuolo on the strength of his showing back at San Siro. The on-loan midfielder, who is obliged to join the Neroverdi on a permanent basis at the end of the season, covered plenty of ground and was at the heart of his side's best attacking moves.

De Vrij under par

Spalletti spoke highly of Stefan de Vrij in the lead-up to this match. He may be more reserved ahead of the next one. Netherlands international De Vrij, though undoubtedly a player of high quality, often seemed lost in ill-advised attempts to shackle Sassuolo's attackers, not knowing exactly which player to mark and when.

What's next?

Inter are back in action away to mid-table Torino next Sunday while Sassuolo have a day fewer to prepare for Cagliari's visit.

Mauro Icardi's agent and wife Wanda Nara said the Inter captain will sign a new contract, while insisting "there are no problems" with the Serie A club.

Icardi's contract does not expire until 2021 but the star forward has been linked to Real Madrid and Manchester United after Nara reiterated the Argentina international is nowhere near a renewal.

However, Nara appeared to backtrack on the future of Icardi, who has also reportedly attracted interest from Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain.

"We'll renew, there will be a new contract, don't worry," Nara told Striscia La Notizia on Canale 5.

"There is no distance, there are no problems. Of course Inter want to keep Icardi."

Icardi, 25, has scored nine Serie A goals and 14 in all competitions this season.

Inter, who are third in the standings, host Sassuolo at San Siro on Saturday.

Napoli say the decision to reject Kalidou Koulibaly's appeal against his red card against Inter is a wasted opportunity in the battle against racism.

Koulibaly was shown two yellow cards in quick succession during the 1-0 defeat at San Siro on Boxing Day, the second coming after he sarcastically applauding the referee.

The Senegal defender was targeted by racist abuse from the stands throughout the game in Milan and head coach Carlo Ancelotti said Koulibaly was "nervous and the mood at the time was not his best".

Napoli said the game should have been suspended due to the taunts from the crowd and the club's lawyer vowed to fight any suspension.

However, the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) appeals court rejected his claim on Friday, leading to condemnation from Napoli, who believe the governing body have "degraded" football and hampered their fight to stop racism.

The club statement read: "The decision of the FIGC appeals court to turn down our appeal against Koulibaly's ban is a sad defeat both for football and the wider issue raised by this whole affair, namely, the fight against discrimination of all sorts, which is still part of football and society.

"A battle that UEFA has been fighting for years – and which Napoli has always supported – has thus been degraded.

"UEFA and FIFA have condemned what happened, saying that protocol was not respected and that the match should have been suspended. All manner of public figures, from mayors to artists, footballers and coaches have offered their solidarity while expressing their indignation.

"Rarely in Italy have we witnessed such unanimous condemnation from society as a whole.

"Then there was the appeal itself, where the judges said they are completely aware of what happened and that they are on Koulibaly's side as a man. They encouraged him not to give up or feel alone, which, he explained, in a sincere and moving speech, is how he felt that evening. Just as he explained to the judges how embarrassed he felt when he had to tell his parents, and his mother in particular, what had happened.

"After all these extraordinary events, the appeal was turned down. A procedural rule was incapable of doing the only thing there was to do: give back to Kalidou Koulibaly – this Senegalese lad who, in light of these events, represents everything that is good and bad in Italy at the moment – the dignity he deserves.

"Koulibaly, Italian football and the institutions all come out of this degraded. Koulibaly's ban should have been overturned regardless of the rules and the bureaucracy. All this does is kill football. Because football is above all a passion that unites billions of people around the world, and it should not be derided like this.

"A great opportunity has been missed today. Sadly it proves there is still much to do and many things to change."

Luciano Spalletti is adamant speculation surrounding the future of key players will not distract Inter during the second half of the season.

Keita Balde Diao has sustained an injury to his right thigh in training, Inter have confirmed.

Luciano Spalletti credited his players for their attitude after Inter came through a Coppa Italia clash with Serie B side Benevento.

The Nerazzurri ran out 6-2 winners at San Siro, opening the scoring through Mauro Icardi after three minutes before Antonio Candreva and Lautaro Martinez each notched braces and Dalbert also found the net.

Wary of the possibility of an upset on Sunday, Spalletti paid tribute to Inter for the way they kept their focus throughout.

"I told [Benevento coach Cristian] Bucchi after the final whistle that he ought to be proud of that performance," Spalletti said on Inter TV.

"When we went 4-0 up, they could have just given up and our attitude, for a few minutes, was that the game was over. But they tried to stay competitive, got stuck into us and tried to win the ball back.

"However, we rose to the challenge and managed to restore our advantage. This was a proper game, a tough one. Credit goes to Benevento for that.

"My players showed themselves very professional in the way they worked during the week. They were ready when called upon.

"There is always a risk of a drop-off in quality in these games. You risk getting shown up and embarrassed. This time I'm happy.

"The players have shown the progress that's been made in terms of consistency. They've gradually learned that you've got to give everything in every game, no matter the opponent."

Bucchi had a similar outlook, adding: "After they took the lead within three minutes from the penalty spot, it all became more difficult. That's why I told the lads to play open and not think about the result.

"We were up against a strong side, both as a team and in terms of individual players. I liked the character we showed at San Siro, creating so many chances and not letting ourselves be demoralised.

"The real difference between us today was in the finishing. We had the same number of scoring opportunities, but Inter scored six goals and we only had two.

"We leave San Siro with regrets, but I am happy with the performance."

Inter set up a Coppa Italia quarter-final showdown with Lazio by beating second-tier Benevento 6-2 at a nearly empty San Siro on Sunday.

Inter captain Mauro Icardi insisted he will only sign a new contract once the Serie A club "submit a correct and concrete offer" amid uncertainty over his future in Milan.

Icardi's terms do not expire until 2021 but the Inter star has been linked with a move to Real Madrid and Manchester United after his agent and wife Wanda Nara reiterated the Argentina international is nowhere near a renewal.

LaLiga champions Barcelona and Ligue 1 holders Paris Saint-Germain are also believed to be among the suitors for Icardi, who used social media to address the speculation.

"I want to clarify to all the fans who read pseudo-journalists and 'serious' newspapers, who write without knowing and having a real idea of the facts, that my renewal will only take place when Inter submit a correct and concrete offer," Icardi wrote in a message posted on Instagram.

"Only after that can we talk about my renewal with truth, while putting aside the lies that have been spread."

Icardi, who has scored nine Serie A goals this season, also leapt to the defence of Nara after reports emerged that Inter could ask the 25-year-old to change agents.

He tweeted: "Where do these phrases come from? How is it possible that Gazzetta dello Sport writes this rubbish?

"Furthermore, I'd like to point out that I am very, very happy and satisfied with the work we've done so far. For this reason, it'll always be Wanda Icardi who takes care of my and our interests until the end of my career."

Meanwhile, Inter remain confident Icardi will extend his deal.

Inter president Steven Zhang, whose side lie third in the Serie A table, told Calciomercato.com: "Icardi is our captain, we will talk about the contract but there are no problems and we will not be influenced by what the newspapers say. We will certainly talk with him, he is a very professional player."

And CEO Giuseppe Marotta added: "Can I reassure fans about Icardi's renewal? Absolutely, the fans can rest assured."

Jose Mourinho will appear as a television pundit for beIN SPORTS, the broadcaster has confirmed.

Mourinho was sacked by Manchester United last month and the Red Devils have won all five games under interim replacement Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The Portuguese has denied he is set to return to the Primeira Liga by taking charge of Benfica, while returns to either Inter or Real Madrid have also been mooted.

"I do not like feeding news stories, but I have no intention of working in Portugal," he said to Correio da Manha on Thursday. "The best way to respect a great club [Benfica] and a great president is to say that I was not approached."

But Mourinho is back in work after agreeing a deal with beIN that will see him cover Premier League and Asian Cup matches for the broadcaster.

Mourinho's first appearance on beIN will be for Thursday's Asian Cup group stage fixture between Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

He will resume punditry duties two days later for a Premier League clash between Arsenal and Chelsea, one of his former clubs.

Mourinho is no newcomer to punditry work as he was part of Russia-based RT's coverage for the 2018 World Cup.

Jose Gimenez hopes to be able to play alongside Diego Godin at Atletico Madrid for a long time as the veteran defender continues to be linked with Inter.

Godin is out of contract at the end of the season and the Uruguay centre-back has been tipped to join Serie A outfit Inter in July.

The 32-year-old, who turned down a move to Premier League giants Manchester United at the start of the campaign, has called Atletico home since arriving from LaLiga rivals Villarreal in 2010.

And Gimenez wants international and club team-mate Godin to remain in the Spanish capital.

"There is a lot of talk of team-mates and I want everyone to do well in their careers," Gimenez said following Atletico's 1-1 draw at Girona in the first leg of their Copa del Rey last-16 tie on Wednesday.

"But I want them with me because they are great players and we need them.

"I hope everyone stays, I love them all personally. The club also loves them and will do their best for everyone. I hope Diego is my partner for a long time."

Mauro Icardi's Inter future remains in doubt after his agent and wife Wanda Nara reiterated the Argentina international is nowhere near renewing his contract.

Icardi has a deal at San Siro until 2021 but the 25-year-old has consistently been linked with a move away, with Real Madrid and Manchester United thought to be among his admirers.

Inter sporting director Piero Ausilio last month suggested a new offer was on the table for Icardi, but Nara says the two parties are not close to an agreement.

Speaking to Spanish newspaper AS, Nara revealed a number of clubs in Europe were monitoring Icardi's situation, intimating Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona had joined the list of suitors.

"Icardi's renewal with Inter is a very long way off as things stand today," she said.

"There are very important clubs that are interested in signing Mauro and we are very far from reaching an agreement [with Inter]. The figures that are being talked about in Italy about his contract renewal are not accurate. So far, we have not received a satisfactory offer from Inter.

"We are not ruling out reaching an agreement at some stage, but at the moment we are a long way off from that.

"It's not logical for Mauro to renew on the same salary that he receives now. We believe that Mauro is at a superior level.

"We have a very good relationship with the two biggest clubs in Spain who are very interested in Mauro, as well as one in France and one in England."

Icardi has scored nine goals in 16 Serie A appearances this season for third-place Inter.

Inter have cancelled their appeal against a two-match stadium ban handed to the club over incidents during a Serie A game against Napoli.

The Nerazzurri were ordered to play upcoming matches against Benevento and Sassuolo behind closed doors after racial abuse was aimed at Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly.

Initially Inter signalled the club would appeal the punishment but a club statement on Tuesday said this was no longer the case.

Instead, Inter have requested that youngsters from sports projects be permitted to watch the Sassuolo game from a section of San Siro.

"This is an important initiative that sends a strong and clear message against all forms of discrimination and violence," the club said.

Inter fans were also blocked from buying tickets for a league game at Empoli following incidents in the Napoli match.

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