Inter chief executive Giuseppe Marotta has denied there is a "split" with deposed captain Mauro Icardi.

The striker hit out at his treatment at the hands of the Serie A club with an explosive social media post this week.

Icardi, who has been linked with a move to Real Madrid, was stripped of the Inter captaincy last month and has not played for the club since being replaced by goalkeeper Samir Handanovic.

"I do not know at this moment if there is love and respect towards Inter and towards me by some who make the decisions," he wrote in a lengthy Instagram post.

The Argentina international has also used social media to post photographs where he is receiving treatment for a supposed injury.

Icardi was once more absent from the Inter squad for Friday's Serie A game at Cagliari, with Marotta losing patience with the ongoing row being played out in the media

"We have already said a lot about the Icardi topic: today we are in Cagliari to face an important game and the club's focus is all on the pitch," he told Sky Sport Italia. 

"These are internal dynamics. I don't feel there is a need to fix anything, as there has been no split. There is absolutely no split.

"I prefer to speak of Cagliari, since we are already angry after the draw against Fiorentina.

"I never talked about the possible sale of Icardi. Football is a team sport and not an individual sport.

"I can say that we are very united: club, leadership and coach. We only care about the growth of Inter."

AC Milan head coach Gennaro Gattuso is refusing to think about the impending derby against Inter and insists his side's focus is squarely on their next two Serie A games.

Milan are two points behind their third-placed city rivals and one point ahead of Roma in fifth with the result of the derby on March 17 likely to prove pivotal in the race for a Champions League qualification spot.

Gattuso, however, has his sights set firmly on extending the Rossoneri's winning streak in the league to four games against Sassuolo at the San Siro on Saturday.

"Before the Inter match, there are two vital games to play against Sassuolo and Chievo," he told a media conference.

"We must focus on these matches, then we'll think about the derby.

"We now have only finals left to play, and we'll prepare for them all in the best possible fashion.

"Sassuolo have good players and they play Roberto De Zerbi's style of football. We must show them respect. The main thing is to maintain consistency both in defence and in our general play."

Spanish forward Suso has now failed to score since January 21 after another frustrating outing in Tuesday's Coppa Italia semi-final first leg against Lazio.

Gattuso, though, has backed the 25-year-old to rediscover the form that saw him linked with Real Madrid earlier in the season.

"He's going through a bit of a tricky spell," he added. "However, Suso isn't a problem for me. He was out for a month and maybe this has impacted him physically.

"He needs to remain calm because he has the qualities to do well and give us great support."

Ivan Rakitic said Barcelona are "perfect" for him and he is "happy" at the LaLiga champions amid links to Inter.

Rakitic is contracted to Barca until 2021 but the Croatia midfielder's future is uncertain as Inter, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain reportedly circle.

Frenkie de Jong's arrival at Camp Nou in 2019-20 has raised doubts but Rakitic has no plans to leave the Spanish giants.

"I like living in Spain," Rakitic said via DAZN.

"Unfortunately, I can't ask for another passport because I already have two, otherwise I'd also ask for a Spanish one because I'm fine here and I'm happy.

"My family are happy here too and my daughters are doing well in Barcelona because we're close to Seville. Therefore, staying here is perfect for me."

Rakitic, who arrived from Sevilla in 2014, has made 24 LaLiga appearances this season and 38 in all competitions.

The 30-year-old played the full 90 minutes in Barca's 3-0 victory at Real Madrid, which sealed a 4-1 aggregate win and the club's place in a sixth successive Copa del Rey final on Wednesday.

Mauro Icardi has broken his silence to demand "respect" from Inter and insists that he has always put the club first.

The 26-year-old has not played for Luciano Spalletti's side since being stripped of the captaincy earlier in February and has again been left out of the squad to face Cagliari on Friday.

The Argentina international had complained of a knee problem, but club medics appeared unable to find any significant problems when conducting tests last week.

He has been heavily linked with a move away from the San Siro amid reports he has played his last game for Inter, although his agent and wife Wanda Nara insists he is happy to stay at the club.

Icardi took to Instagram on Thursday to document his "sacrifices" for the club and express his concerns that senior officials are not showing him "love and respect".

His lengthy statement read: "It's in the most difficult moments that true love is shown. And in those moments that I decided to stay at Inter, with Inter.

"When I felt that with my goals I could help Inter be stronger, among many things. Stronger than the problems of Financial Fair Play. Stronger than our difficulties, when there were many [who] wrote us off as a team. At Inter. With Inter.

"And despite everything, I've always decided to stay. And for the love of these colours.

"I have rejected offers that a professional player could hardly have refused, especially in similar conditions.

"I played with physical pains that brought me to tears after games, and in the following days. But I have always insisted on taking to the pitch, even against medical advice. Because I was able to forget every pain on the pitch, with the only goal of giving everything I could to help these colours.

"At Inter. With Inter. For the LOVE of the Nerazzurri colours. Because there is only Inter.

"I've shown my children that we must keep hope. I taught them that winning is difficult, but that doing so with Inter has a unique meaning, which only a true interista can understand and feel. The eyes of my children do not lie.

"I realised my dream, I realised the dream of all interisti, returning to the Champions League with the team I was captain of. Because I have always felt and transmitted love for these colours.

"I have always disapproved of those who at the first opportunity tried to leave the club. I respected the supporters, my team-mates, the club and all the coaches who have passed through.

"I have collaborated with the club, on and off the pitch, in the inclusion of every new player, showing him that only with passion can we reach our goals. I know what love for Inter is, and Inter fans know that because they have seen how I have suffered, cried, struggled and finally enjoyed these colours. At Inter. With Inter.

"But as I said, all the sacrifices were made for the love of these colours, while respecting everyone.

"I do not know at this moment if there is love and respect towards Inter and towards me by some who make the decisions.

"I do not know if there is somebody's desire to act and resolve things only and exclusively for the sake of Inter.

"Many things can happen in a family, good or bad. And out of love, you can endure a lot, everything.

"But respect must never be lacking. These are my values, these are the values for which I have always fought.

"In my story. At Inter. With Inter."

Mauro Icardi has again been left out of the Inter squad for Friday's Serie A clash with Cagliari.

The striker was not included among the 22 players heading to Sardinia, where the Nerazzurri will look to return to winning ways after being held to a 3-3 draw by Fiorentina on Sunday.

Icardi has not played for the club since being stripped of the captaincy and has now missed their last four matches in all competitions.

The Argentina international had complained of a knee problem, but club medics appeared unable to find any significant problems when conducting tests last week.

The 26-year-old has been heavily linked with champions Juventus amid reports he has played his last game for Inter, although his agent and wife Wanda Nara insists he is happy to stay at the club.

Speaking on Thursday, head coach Luciano Spalletti was unwilling to discuss the forward's situation.

"Many things have already been said about Icardi by [chief executive Giuseppe] Marotta and [president Steven] Zhang," said the coach.

"From now on I'll only talk about the players that are available for selection, not those who aren't, because they're the ones who are on the field and care about the fate of Inter.

"I won't talk about the others anymore."

Inter are third in Serie A after 25 games, 22 points behind leaders Juve.

Inter head coach Luciano Spalletti is unwilling to continue discussing Mauro Icardi's situation, vowing to focus solely on those who "care about the fate of Inter".

Icardi was stripped of the club's captaincy this month and then withdrew himself from selection for the Europa League last-32 first-leg tie against Rapid Vienna on February 14, citing a knee injury.

The Argentina striker has since missed Serie A games against Sampdoria and Fiorentina, as well as the second leg against Rapid.

The 26-year-old has been linked with Juventus, Napoli, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United, but his wife and agent Wanda Nara this week said he was "super happy" at the club.

Ahead of Inter's trip to Cagliari on Friday, Spalletti did not want to speak about Icardi.

"Many things have already been said about Icardi by [chief executive Giuseppe] Marotta and [president Steven] Zhang," said the coach.

"From now on I'll only talk about the players that are available for selection, not those who aren't, because they're the ones who are on the field and care about the fate of Inter.

"I won't talk about the others anymore."

Spalletti instead chose to praise the contribution of Icardi's replacement Lautaro Martinez.

The former Racing Club forward has failed to score in his last three games but put in an all-action display in Sunday's 3-3 draw with Fiorentina.

"He [Martinez] is doing really well. He put in a top performance in Florence and he has plenty of qualities to help the team.

"He's dealt extremely well with the responsibility that he's been given. His team-mates are relaxed with him up front."

Spalletti admitted to lingering frustrations over the dramatic use of VAR in the draw with Fiorentina but insists that it is "the future".

The Inter boss fumed over referee Rosario Abisso's decision to award a penalty when Danilo D'Ambrosio was deemed to have handled the ball in the sixth of seven additional minutes, with Fiorentina's Jordan Veretout converting the spot-kick after a five-minute VAR check.

Abisso consulted the video review system having pointed to the spot initially and he stuck with his original decision, despite the ball appearing to strike D'Ambrosio's chest.

The result, which saw Inter squander a 3-1 lead in the second half in Florence, left Spalletti's side just two points above fourth-place city rivals AC Milan.

"There's still a bit of annoyance," he said of the incident. "VAR is a perfect instrument, yet at times incidents are even hard to analyse on a screen.

"It's only right that it's used five or six times during a game if necessary. We need to keep using it; it's the future."

Former Inter captain Mauro Icardi is "super happy" at the Serie A club, according to his wife and agent Wanda Nara.

Icardi has been linked with Juventus, Napoli, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United after he was stripped of the Inter captaincy earlier in February.

The Inter star – who is contracted until 2021 – has not played since losing the armband to team-mate Samir Handanovic.

Despite the uncertainty over the 26-year-old's future, Nara insisted her and Icardi are happy in Milan.

"The truth is that Mauro has two more years left on his contract with Inter and we're super happy here," Nara told Gente.

"We're looking at how we can move forward and things will certainly be resolved in the best way for Inter and Mauro. There are changes at the club, a new director [Giuseppe Marotta]…

"Milan is like my second home and all my children are Italian. The only one born in Argentina is Valentino, but we came here soon after.

"There's a lot of talk about whether we'll move or not, but perhaps the press are the ones who are pressing the most..."

Nara has been criticised for her role in the situation involving Icardi and Inter but the outspoken representative added: "This is a very macho world and what I'm doing is revolutionary. Although there are many relatives who represent players, the role of women in football is more linked to 'staying at home with the kids and keeping quiet'.

"That's why I'm a revolutionary. I have friends who are wives of players and many laugh at me. They see that what I'm doing is strange, but they've asked me to represent their husbands because they know me, they know how I act and defend my interests.

"There is no crisis with Mauro, nor was there one. The stories that have come out are fantasy and very little to do with real life. We're really happy together.

"It's very difficult to be a woman in this macho world, but I have people who respect me. Some people have made things up to destabilise me. They've got very far."

Inter chief Giuseppe Marotta believes the decision to award Fiorentina a late penalty in Sunday's 3-3 draw is the biggest mistake since VAR's introduction to Serie A.

Inter were twice the benefactors of the video review system in the second half at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, with Edimilson Fernandes penalised for a handball in the area before Cristiano Biraghi had a thunderous strike ruled out at the other end.

Fiorentina's luck changed in the final minutes of stoppage time and, after Danilo D'Ambrosio was judged to have handled in Inter's box, referee Rosario Abisso used VAR to confirm his initial decision.

Jordan Veretout kept his composure to secure a share of the spoils in the 101st minute and Inter CEO Marotta did not hold back in his criticism of how the system has been implemented.

"We suffered significant harm," Marotta said on Monday at the Giacinto Facchetti awards ceremony.

"We hope that it's not irreparable in terms of the league standings because it could be really severe.

"This is the biggest mistake since the introduction of VAR.

"The incident took place at the end of the game. Therefore, it was different from the one in the fifth minute when there was plenty of time left to play.

"As a director of football that's part of the Italian movement and the Federation, the main regret is that we've invested a lot in VAR to help referees.

"The aim was not to get rid of all mistakes but to reduce them. It must be used rationally. We're now faced with a situation where objectivity has been confused with subjectivity. I cannot help but remain disappointed and stunned.

"D'Ambrosio's action is objective and what's happened is incredible."

Luciano Spalletti's side were behind after 17 seconds when Stefan de Vrij turned Giovanni Simeone's flick into the back of Inter's net.

Matias Vecino restored parity before Matteo Politano hammered home – Ivan Perisic extending Inter's lead from the spot after the interval.

But after Biraghi's effort was disallowed, Luis Muriel's sensational free-kick set up a grandstand finish, with Inter wilting under the Fiorentina pressure, and the Nerazzurri are now just two points above fourth-place AC Milan.

Luciano Spalletti fumed over the referee's decision to award a penalty deep into stoppage time as Inter were held to a dramatic last-gasp 3-3 Serie A draw at Fiorentina.  

Danilo D'Ambrosio was deemed to have handled the ball in the sixth of seven additional minutes on Sunday, with Fiorentina's Jordan Veretout converting the spot-kick after a five-minute VAR check.

Referee Rosario Abisso consulted the video review system having pointed to the spot initially and he stuck with his original decision, despite the ball appearing to strike D'Ambrosio's chest.

The result, which saw Inter squander a 3-1 lead in the second half in Florence, left Spalletti's side just two points above city rivals AC Milan in third position.

And Inter head coach Spalletti raged post-match, telling Sky Sport Italia: "It's clear. It's his chest. There is no argument here. There is no doubt here. It's his Chest. We saw clearly. Everyone saw the VAR from the touchline, everyone saw it. It was his chest.

"The first penalty he stuck his arm up and waved it around with nobody bothering him. The second, it was clearly his chest. It never even grazed his arm. Never.

"Now people are going to go 'oh they’re sending Spalletti away and getting someone else in', these results are decisive, they make a difference. These are fundamental results for our objectives in an entire season.

"I didn't talk to the referee afterwards, because what could he possibly tell me? That it hit his arm when it clearly didn't? There are no ifs and buts here, it's clear. It is obvious.

"It is in front of our eyes. There are no doubts, there's no maybe, no possibly, no potentially, no perhaps. So we go back to the last time we played Fiorentina, with the famous fingertips that moved on VAR. This is an important instrument that referees can use to see things properly."

Inter captain and goalkeeper Sami Handanovic added: "We're angry, everyone saw what happened at the end: first of all, D'Ambrosio was fouled by Federico Chiesa, and then the ball didn't even touch his hand. It's clear for all to see."

Inter were left to rue a stoppage-time VAR-assisted penalty as Fiorentina salvaged a 3-3 draw in a remarkable Serie A encounter on Sunday.

Having been the benefactors of two decisions that went to the video review system, it was third time unlucky for Inter as the referee deemed Danilo D'Ambrosio had handled the ball in the sixth minute of seven added on, with Jordan Veretout eventually stepping up to slot home following a five-minute VAR check.

Luciano Spalletti's side had been 3-1 up seven minutes into the second half, when Ivan Perisic netted with Inter's own VAR-awarded spot-kick after Matias Vecino and Matteo Politano had cancelled out Stefan de Vrij's first-minute own goal.

But Fiorentina rallied, and after Cristiano Biraghi had a goal ruled out by VAR, Luis Muriel's stunning free-kick set up a grandstand finish, with Veretout keeping his composure in extraordinary circumstances to secure a share of the spoils in Florence.

Diego Simeone has no particular problem with Cristiano Ronaldo's insult towards Atletico Madrid after their defeat of Juventus on Wednesday.

Atleti stunned the Serie A leaders in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie, claiming a 2-0 win at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Ronaldo had been heckled by the crowd during the match and responded by holding up his hand to indicate the five Champions Leagues he has won in his career.

The former Real Madrid star went further after the game, telling reporters "I won five Champions Leagues and these guys, zero," as he left the ground.

But when asked for his view, Simeone told a news conference on Saturday: "I understand everything. I'm part of this world and I understand everything that can happen."

Simeone himself caused controversy when he grabbed his groin in celebration after Jose Gimenez opened the scoring in the 78th minute.

The Atleti head coach apologised afterwards, insisting it was an attempt to "show our fans that we have cojones", and he has moved to draw a line under the issue.

"You know I don't look for excuses. Once more, I apologise to the people who clearly felt offended by the gesture from the other day, and also to Juventus," he said.

"It was a bad expression of what I felt for my players. I say it to bring an end to the issue."

Alvaro Morata was denied a goal by VAR against Juve, meaning he is still yet to score after four appearances for the club since his loan move from Chelsea.

However, Simeone does not believe the Spain striker should be feeling unhappy.

"Downcast? He's only just arrived!" said Simeone. "We need his energy, his strength and for him to keep striving for the chances he's had. If he keeps working in the same way, things will come about naturally.

"We need him, without a doubt, because he's strong."

Simeone also stressed he is unaware of any impending agreement between Diego Godin and Inter, after Nerazzurri CEO Giuseppe Marotta claimed a deal was almost done.

"I can't say anything. It's Marotta's opinion or a few of his words," Simeone added. "If Godin or Atletico have something to say, they'll say it. I don't have an opinion on something I don't know."

Mauro Icardi will miss a fourth consecutive game for Inter when they face Fiorentina on Sunday.

Icardi has not featured in any of Inter's last three matches with an apparent knee injury amid continued speculation over his future at the club after he was stripped of the captaincy.

Inter have reportedly offered Icardi a new four-year contract worth €6.5million per season, but he will not be re-joining his team-mates for the trip to the Artemio Franchi, with Keita Balde Diao also still unavailable.

Speaking at a pre-match media conference, coach Luciano Spalletti said: "I hope to have Icardi and Keita back as soon as possible.

"It's unlikely for a team like Inter to depend on just one player as, if we did, then we wouldn't be a top-level side. There are others who can make the difference and allow us to stay in the top spots of the table.

"The team has clearly done better over the last few games and sorted out some things that had not been working well, but at the same time our lead over the chasing pack has been reduced and we've got to keep winning.

"There are many reasons for the improvements. On an individual level, we must give our all to get positive answers.

"We need to get some players back for the forward line, as our numbers are limited there at the moment and I'd prefer to have more options to rotate the squad."

Inter are third in Serie A, a point ahead of city rivals AC Milan, but face a Fiorentina side unbeaten in eight games in all competitions and boosted by the loan signing of Luis Muriel, who has scored three goals in five league games since joining.

"Muriel has the kind of pace that is difficult to deal with, so we need to be even better at working together to cut him off," Spalletti added.

"We are in the right condition to play Fiorentina on level terms even in their own stadium and go there without fear.

"I am optimistic, because my team is in good shape. I am also not worried, as the teams getting closer are the ones we expected to be challenging."

Javier Zanetti is hopeful that Mauro Icardi will return to the field for Inter in the next two weeks.

Icardi was stripped of his captaincy last week and then withdrew himself from selection for the Europa League first-leg tie against Rapid Vienna.

The Argentina striker also missed the Serie A clash against Sampdoria and the return fixture versus Rapid, with Inter progressing in Europe and drawing Eintracht Frankfurt in the last 16.

Inter director Zanetti is keen to see Icardi back in the fold in time for the first leg on March 7, but he insists any decision on 26-year-old's availability will depend on what is best for the team.

"Mauro's still an important player for us," Zanetti told Sky Sport Italia. "We hope to have him back for this tie. It would help the team.

"I believe that when there are problems in the dressing room, you have to solve them internally. That way, this group can get stronger and stronger. I'd like us to create the conditions so we can keep winning.

"I'm sorry for the situation that has arisen but, I repeat, it must be sorted with the first thought being the good of the team.

"The [captaincy] decision wasn't taken lightly, so I don't think it'll change. I haven't talked to him yet. I'd like to let some time pass but, I reiterate, the team come first."

Chelsea will play Dynamo Kiev in the last 16 of the Europa League, while Arsenal have been paired with Ligue 1 side Rennes.

Both Premier League clubs are at home for the first legs, which are set to be played on March 7, with the return games taking place a week later.

Sevilla, five-time winners of the competition, are also at home first in their tie with Slavia Prague.

Fellow LaLiga side Villarreal are away to Zenit first, while Valencia host more Russian opposition in Krasnodar.

Serie A giants Inter will go to Eintracht Frankfurt, with Napoli welcoming Austrian champions Salzburg in the opening leg.

"Salzburg are a great team with great international experience," said Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti. "They played in the semi-final of the Europa League [last year]. And in the group they won six games out of six. We'll have two big games!"

In the remaining match, Benfica travel to Dinamo Zagreb before hosting the conclusion of the tie.

Europa League last-16 draw in full

Chelsea v Dynamo Kiev

Eintracht Frankfurt v Inter

Dinamo Zagreb v Benfica

Napoli v Salzburg

Valencia v Krasnodar

Sevilla v Slavia Prague

Arsenal v Rennes

Zenit v Villarreal

Inter coach Luciano Spalletti insists his side's upturn in fortunes has nothing to do with the continued absence of striker Mauro Icardi.

The Nerazzurri cruised past Rapid Vienna 4-0 on Thursday to seal a 5-0 aggregate win and book their place in the last 16 of the Europa League – their fourth consecutive win after a four-game winless run.

The latest win came without Icardi, who has now missed Inter's last three games amid speculation he could leave the club after being stripped of the captaincy.

Far from believing their improvement is down to a better team spirit caused by Icardi's absence, Spalletti attributes it to something more simple – hard work.

"It is correct to say that Inter are improving and making fewer errors than before, but it is not fair to allude to something else that happened during this period," he told Sky Sport Italia.

"Let's view it from the right angle here, which is that the team is working hard and making fewer mistakes.

"Let's not talk all the time about this [Icardi]. Let's focus on the players who were out there today, playing, running, getting kicked and not losing sight of the reality of the situation.

"We are trying to reach this level as our normality, without the ups and downs. We need to get that sorted as soon as possible, because again last season we did well only for spells."

Goalkeeper Samir Handanovic has taken over the captain's armband from Icardi, but the Slovene insists any number of senior players could lead the team.

"The armband is not a title of nobility or a trophy," he said.

"It is a great responsibility and at Inter an honour. We don't need just one person wearing the armband, because we need five or six leaders who push the squad forward. It doesn't matter who wears the armband."

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