Inter boss Luciano Spalletti has explained Mauro Icardi cannot play for Inter until he solves his problems in the locker room.

The Argentine forward has not played for his side since early February but had spent this week training prior to a reported fresh incident which saw him left out for Sunday's 1-0 loss against Lazio.

Spalletti has called on the 26-year-old to show greater discipline if he is to reintegrate into the squad.

"It's obvious for everyone to see what happened. It's obvious," he told Sky Sport Italia.

"The way he has behaved, he needs to stay away and others have to play. I think he could have played 20-30 minutes, even half a game but that's not the point.

"The ones in the locker room need to play. You need to have credibility in the group. If he continues to behave the way he has recently, then he can start to come back in.

"I've left players out for far less in my time. You must have respect and behave in the locker room."

Spalletti went on to say the whole episode has been embarrassing for the club.

"This mediation is humiliating for Inter fans and for those who love Inter. The need to mediate with someone just to get him to pull on the shirt that they love. It's humiliating," he said.

"Negotiating with someone just to get him to pull on the Inter shirt. What, do I need to email 20 lawyers and ask them if I can call someone up?"

Reflecting on the loss to Lazio at San Siro, Spalletti lamented the way his side wasted their control of the match.

"It is certainly a heavy defeat against a direct rival for position," he added.

"We controlled the game for long periods, but were unlucky to waste our chances and then go behind, which allowed Lazio to focus on the defensive approach they wanted even more.

"Lazio pushed forward with their wing-backs and we found ourselves poorly organised. Lazio will always create chances against anyone and they scored at the first attempt."

Inter sit third in Serie A, two points clear of local rivals AC Milan.

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic's early goal boosted Lazio's hopes of qualifying for the Champions League as they secured a 1-0 win over Inter at San Siro.

On the back foot for much of the match, the Rome club took the lead early on through Milinkovic-Savic's header. Inter may have dominated possession but perhaps would have lost by a greater margin were it not for some fine saves from Samir Handanovic.

Inter squandered a great chance to race into an early lead, with Thomas Strakosha tamely punching a corner straight to Milan Skriniar, who could not keep his effort under the crossbar, sparing the Lazio keeper’s blushes.

And the Slovakian’s miss proved costly, with Lucas Alberto bending a lovely ball to the far post straight to Milinkovic-Savic, who was there to head home what proved to be the winner from close range.

 

0-1 | 13'

GOOOOOOOL!!!!!!!
LA SBLOCCA #MILINKOVIC !!!!!!!! #SerieATIM #InterLazio pic.twitter.com/HHN9zMvNwh

— S.S.Lazio (@OfficialSSLazio) March 31, 2019

 

Ivan Perisic twice looked a threat down the left but while Inter dominated play, it was Lazio who came closest to registering a second goal before half-time, with Luis Alberto’s free-kick met by Bastos only for Handanovic to get down well to make a superb save.

Luis Alberto was at the heart of all of Lazio’s positive play and almost scored himself with a bending effort which forced another impressive save from Handanovic.

Inter upped the ante immediately after the break, Perisic forcing an early save from Strakosha and Matteo Politano twice driving over shortly after the restart.

At the other end, Handanovic had to make yet another impressive save, scampering off his line to thwart an effort from Felipe Caicedo and throwing himself at the feet of Ciro Immobile to block the rebound before making another save from the 29-year-old striker.

Substitute Radja Nainggolan stung the palms of Strakosha late on and Bastos almost headed into his own net but Inter were unable to conjure up a late leveller.

 

What does it mean? Lazio firmly in the top-four hunt

The race for the final Champions League spot in Serie A is now a fascinating one. Lazio are up to fifth and have a further game in hand to come. This victory moved them within three points of fourth-placed AC Milan and they are five behind Inter in third.

Luis Alberto pulls the strings

While Lazio defended manfully as a unit, there can be little doubt that the key to victory was their Spanish playmaker Luis Alberto. The 26-year-old set up the only goal of the game with a wonderful floated cross and was twice more involved in moves that threatened the Inter goal, setting up Bastos and forcing a save himself from Handanovic.

Skriniar left with regret

Inter’s attackers must carry the can for not creating more with their possession, though the entire complexion of the match would have been changed had Skriniar not squandered an easy opportunity to put the hosts ahead. He was also sluggish at the back, most notably when Caicedo barged through him to force Handanovic into another save.

What’s next?

Inter head to Genoa in midweek before a home game against Atalanta next Sunday. Lazio, meanwhile, next face two teams in the lower reaches of the table, travelling to SPAL before hosting Sassuolo.

Mauro Icardi is like a new player but will not be in the Inter squad to face Lazio in Serie A, says Luciano Spalletti.

Icardi, who has not played since being replaced as club captain by Samir Handanovic, is back in training.

There was speculation in the Italian media that Sunday's game at San Siro, which could be key for both sides' Champions League qualification hopes, would see Icardi return.

But while Spalletti hailed the Argentina attacker's improved mentality, the Inter head coach will not be picking Icardi for the match.

"I found him like a new player in some ways," Spalletti told a news conference.

"He trained and we have to put him back into our training behaviour.

"I think it is right that he cannot help his team-mates for this match yet. So tomorrow he is not called.

"He has returned from a long period of absence and there are new things that have happened to be evaluated.

"Then the training with the team is fundamental for me. On the next game, we will evaluate."

A 3-2 win against city rivals AC Milan before the international break moved the Nerazzurri, who go to Genoa on Wednesday, back up to third place in the Serie A table.

Lazio, however, have a game in hand on the teams around them and are only six points behind Milan in the race for Champions League qualification.

"Lazio are a direct competitor for the Champions League and, as in the past, they are having a great season," Spalletti added. "The three points become heavier because they compete with us.

"We must show continuity after the victory in the derby. Our attitude must always be the same, the desire to play the game, to play in a certain way. As we did with Milan we will have to do also against Lazio and Genoa."

Stefan de Vrij and Lautaro Martinez returned carrying injuries after their international duty with Netherlands and Argentina respectively.

"What is fundamental, in my opinion, is that the players who go to the national team have an open dialogue and collaboration with the medical staff of the club and the national teams," Spalletti said.

"We had told the players to highlight and estimate the possibility of measuring the minutes in two games so close. When it comes to young players, who want to demonstrate and contribute to their national teams, it's not easy."

Gabriel Batistuta believes Mauro Icardi can show more as he urged the former Inter captain to fulfil his true potential.

Icardi has established himself as one of the leading strikers in Serie A and world football since joining Inter from Sampdoria in 2013.

However, Argentina international Icardi has not played since the 26-year-old was stripped of the captaincy in February amid uncertainty over his future.

Asked about Icardi – who has scored nine league goals and 15 in all competitions this season – Argentine great Batistuta said: "He has always scored goals and it seems to me he still has a much greater potential.

"He can show us he can do a lot more than he has shown so far. We could say that, as a player, he is already an accomplished one."

Icardi returned to training this week, having not played since team-mate Samir Handanovic was handed the captaincy last month.

The disgruntled star – who has been linked with the likes of Real Madrid, Juventus and Napoli –  claimed to have been injured but Inter initially said tests could not uncover a specific issue.

With questions still being asked about Inter's decision to remove Icardi as captain, general manager Giuseppe Marotta refused to reveal the reason.

"In a club, there are some dynamics that cannot be made public," Marotta said. "The decisions must be made with a sense of responsibility.

"We didn't want to punish anyone, that's just a fact. We reached that point because our job within the club is to protect the coach with the objective of respecting the 'community' of the squad. I am not talking about the Icardi issue.

"If you want to step out there on to the field and deliver, you need a team spirit. One of the most important objectives of a club and coach is to respect that."

Gennaro Gattuso is keen for AC Milan to swiftly bounce back from their derby defeat to Inter by beating Sampdoria on Saturday.

Milan were unbeaten in 10 matches in all competitions heading into the crunch clash with their rivals, while Inter, without former captain Mauro Icardi, were thought to be in disarray.

Yet the Rossoneri went down 3-2 in the final match before the international break, failing to take a series of late chances that would have snatched a draw.

The result came as a setback to Gattuso's men, but they remain in the top four ahead of taking on Sampdoria this weekend.

"History says so [Milan must move on]," he told a news conference. "Even four months ago against Real Betis, we played an embarrassing game. We had to put it to one side.

"It was the same in the match against Arsenal last year. This is why so many times I make the same speeches. For us [the derby] was a blow, but we must look ahead. Our championship is [qualifying for] the Champions League and, right now, we are winning it.

"We have an obligation to look forward, the derby game is over and it could have easily ended 3-3. Imagine if [Samu] Castillejo or [Patrick] Cutrone had scored their chances - we would be having a different conversation now. 

"On Saturday, I want to see the same old AC Milan that does not concede easily. We have to return to being the squad of recent months, a team able to hold up against any opponent." 

Leaving the loss to Inter in the past also means forgetting about the touchline clash between Franck Kessie and Lucas Biglia that later saw both men issues apologies.

Gattuso said: "I spoke to [Kessie]. I don't hold any grudge and the players know how much he cares, but I believe that we need maximum respect in the team. I was very disappointed - I made this clear to both of them. 

"But as a footballer, I've been wrong many times, too, as with Joe Jordan [in a confrontation with the then-Tottenham coach], and I always paid the price for it by taking full responsibility for my actions. 

"I'm not angry with Franck. There was great disappointment in me, but now it's all over."

Inter vice-president Javier Zanetti said there has been too much talk about Mauro Icardi amid uncertainty over the star's future in Milan.

Icardi has not played since he was stripped of the captaincy last month, with the disgruntled striker claiming to have been injured but Inter initially said tests could not uncover a specific issue.

Linked with the likes of Real Madrid, Juventus and Napoli amid a contract stand-off, Icardi returned to Inter training on Tuesday.

Asked if Icardi could be in line to face Lazio in Serie A action on Sunday, Zanetti said: "I think we have talked about him too much.

"Now we must focus on the field because it is fundamental for the season finale."

Inter are third in Serie A, two points clear of fourth-placed AC Milan following their derby victory prior to the international break.

Zanetti added: "We have the goal of qualifying for the Champions League, 10 games are left and on Sunday we meet a direct rival. The team is preparing for the match as best as possible with the coach."

There has been talk of unrest between Icardi and some of his Inter team-mates as speculation grows over his future.

Inter centre-back Milan Skriniar, however, told Sport.sk: "You should ask Icardi what happened.

"Of course, us players have no problem with him, nor does he with us. It's up to him to put an end to this situation."

The first Madrid derby to be played outside of Europe has been confirmed for this year's International Champions Cup.

Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid is one of 18 matches that will take place across North America, Europe and Asia in July and August. 

Joining the Madrid clubs in the seventh edition of the competition are reigning champions Tottenham, Manchester United, Arsenal, Roma, Juventus, AC Milan, Inter, Bayern Munich, Benfica and Chivas.

Madrid's clash with their city rivals will take place on July 26 at MetLife Stadium, the home of the New York Giants and Jets, while other eye-catching fixtures include Bayern v Milan, Tottenham v United and Juventus v Inter.

In addition to New Jersey, the United States will play host to games in Los Angeles, Landover, Chicago, Charlotte, Santa Clara, Houston, Arlington, Kansas City and Foxborough. Cardiff, London, Stockholm, Singapore and Shanghai will serve as the venues for the Europe and Asia matches.

Each team will play three matches and the club with the most points at the end of the tournament will lift the trophy. Games that end in a draw go straight to penalties with the winner receiving two points and the loser one.

Fixtures:

Roma v Chivas: July 17 – Chicago, Illinois
Arsenal v Bayern Munich: July 18 – Los Angeles, California
Manchester United v Inter: July 20 – Singapore
Arsenal v Roma: July 20 – Charlotte, North Carolina
Benfica v Chivas: July 20 – Santa Clara, California
Bayern Munich v Real Madrid: July 21 – Houston, Texas
Juventus v Tottenham: July 21 – Singapore
Real Madrid v Arsenal: July 24 – Landover, Maryland
Bayern Munich v AC Milan: July 24 – Kansas City, Missouri
Chivas v Atletico Madrid: July 24 – Arlington, Texas
Juventus v Inter: July 24 – China
Roma v Benfica: July 25 – Harrison, New Jersey
Tottenham v Manchester United: July 25 – Shanghai
Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid: July 26 – East Rutherford, New Jersey
AC Milan v Benfica: July 28 – Foxborough, Massachusetts
Manchester United v AC Milan: August 3 – Cardiff
Tottenham v Inter: August 3 – London
Atletico Madrid v Juventus: August 10 – Stockholm

Inter defender Stefan de Vrij will miss the visit of his former club Lazio on Sunday due to a thigh injury, the Serie A club have announced.

De Vrij missed Netherlands' 4-0 win over Belarus on Thursday and the subsequent 3-2 defeat to Germany.

The centre-back had a scan on Wednesday to determine the extent of the problem he sustained in training with his national team.

It revealed an issue with the adductor muscle in his right thigh and Inter have consequently put him on a personalised training schedule.

They plan to re-evaluate his condition early next week, meaning he is not likely to feature in the Serie A match against Lazio, whom he departed for Inter at the end of last season.

Andrea Pirlo claims Inter play better with Lautaro Martinez in the side, while suggesting Mauro Icardi's position at San Siro has been weakened by his continued absence.

Icardi has not played for the Nerazzurri since he was stripped of the captaincy in February amid a contract wrangle between the club and his wife and agent Wanda Nara.

But Martinez has seized the opportunity to establish himself as a key man in place of his compatriot, starting Inter's last five Serie A matches and taking his goals tally to six for the league season.

And Pirlo, who played for Inter before enjoying a storied career with AC Milan and Juventus, does not believe Icardi is helping his situation by remaining unavailable for selection.

"Inter keep playing and those who do not play are losing value," Pirlo told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "Inter have another attacker.

"How will Icardi return after being out for so long?

"Lautaro is more complete and makes the team play better, whereas Icardi is more of a goalscorer. But they can play together."

 

Pirlo added that Nara had also negatively impacted Icardi's standing in Milan by allowing the saga to play out in public.

"The representatives go to the office, they talk, they solve things in there," he said. "There would have been less mess if everything had been less public, less on social media."

Icardi has scored just nine goals in Serie A this term, having netted 29 in the 2017-18 campaign.

Inter have confirmed Mauro Icardi is not ready to return to action as he needs to build up his fitness levels.

Icardi was stripped of the captaincy by head coach Luciano Spalletti last month and has not played since.

The striker claimed to have been injured but Inter initially said tests could not uncover a specific issue.

A contract row between Icardi, his agent Wanda Nara and Inter is reportedly behind the stand-off between club and player.

But director of Inter's medical department Piero Volpi has signalled Icardi could be back in action soon.

"He underwent the first stage of physiotherapy before an individual spell of rehabilitation," he told the club's website.

"He's joining up with the group again, catching up with his team-mates. We'll evaluate his condition next week and only then can we say how long will be required before he's fully available.

"We'll continue with the normal process, like with all of our players. You start with individual work, then you train in part with the rest of the squad before returning fully."

Inter's form has been good despite Icardi's absence, Spalletti's side beating AC Milan 3-2 in their last game to leapfrog their rivals into third place in Serie A, and Volpi gave an update on Radja Nainggolan's calf injury and Stefan de Vrij's setback on international duty.

"Nainggolan is recovering from the problem that he had around 15 days ago. He's improving and we're finalising his individual plan," he added. "Like with Icardi, we'll evaluate him at the start of next week and see when he can return to training with the group.

"With regard to De Vrij, the Dutch doctor who we have an excellent relationship with like with all national team staff informed us of the issue. It should only be a case of fatigue because the ultrasound tests came back negative."

Inter midfielder Radja Nainggolan hopes to repay the faith of head coach Luciano Spalletti over the closing weeks of the Serie A season.

Nainggolan has been restricted to 14 Serie A starts and missed Inter's dramatic derby defeat of AC Milan before the international break due to injury.

That victory moved Inter above Milan into third place in the table and Nainggolan feels Spalletti's side are on track to meet their top-four aims.

"We are strong, the group is united. We need to qualify for Champions League," Nainggolan said in an interview with Lega Serie A's YouTube channel.

"I have a good relationship with Spalletti. He's tactically strong and very meticulous.

"If he loves you, he shows it to you. He did a lot to bring me here and I hope I can finally start giving him so much back."

Nainggolan is sidelined by a calf injury and the former Belgium international feels fitness issues have affected his progress since joining from Roma.

"I was criticised so much because everyone expected so much from me," he added. "But I've had so many injuries, which I've never had in my career.

"It was a great satisfaction to get back among the goals [against Sampdoria last month] and I hope I can keep going like this."

Meanwhile, the agent of Nainggolan's Inter team-mate Matteo Politano believes the Nerazzurri will take up their option to turn his loan from Sassuolo into a permanent deal.

"Politano to Inter is a deal we all wanted to happen," Davide Lippi said to Radio Sportiva. "Matteo is having a great season, which is what we expected. Inter were a big jump, that is true, but they invested in him because they thought he would make it.

"I think he is a player you can count on. I don't think Inter will miss out on the chance to buy him: it will take around €20million to release him from Sassuolo.

"We haven't talked yet as the season is long, but I don't think there will be any problems with Inter's option to buy, given the praise we have received."

Lautaro Martinez has called for an end to the ongoing stand-off between Inter and former captain Mauro Icardi.

Striker Icardi has not played for the club since being stripped of the armband by head coach Luciano Spalletti last month.

But despite his absence, Inter climbed to third in Serie A with a thrilling 3-2 win against rivals AC Milan on Sunday.

Martinez scored what proved to be the winner from the penalty spot but the Argentina attacker still wants compatriot Icardi back.

"The situation is unpleasant, it is not at all nice for both Icardi and the group," Martinez said to TNT Sports.

"However, we can only continue to train and play with maximum commitment.

"We are employees and, as such, we must always be available to the club, but we hope that everything will be resolved as soon as possible.

"Icardi, his entourage and the club will decide. We try to stay focused on our work."

Mauro Icardi's stand-off with Inter could soon be resolved, according to the Serie A club's general manager Giuseppe Marotta.

Icardi has not played since he was stripped of the captaincy in February, as talks over a new contract reportedly broke down.

Marotta has since held positive talks with Icardi's wife and agent Wanda Nara, although the Inters striker remains sidelined with a supposed knee injury.

But Marotta believes that the situation is close to a resolution, insisting that the decision to hand the captain's armband to Samir Handanovic was not a punishment for Icardi.

"I hope the situation can mend itself," Marotta told reporters.

"We're a family and parents must make decisions for the sake of their children, but they're not punishments. They're made so the kids can grow and get better.

"That's how our decision should be interpreted. I hope we can mend this rift as quickly as possible because Icardi is a good lad who has given a lot to Inter and can still give us so much.

"Now he's struggling with a knee problem. We hope it heals as quickly as possible and that he returns to the group after rehabilitation."

Icardi's absence was felt by Inter as they went out of the Europa League on Thursday, but Luciano Spalletti's side responded in style by beating rivals AC Milan 3-2 in a thrilling Derby della Madonnina on Sunday, moving them up to third place in Serie A.

AC Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso was fuming with the bench row between Franck Kessie and Lucas Biglia during Sunday's 3-2 defeat to Inter, warning them he would have got involved too had he seen the incident initially.

Lautaro Martinez's penalty ultimately proved decisive as Inter crept above Milan and moved up to third in the table, but Gattuso was angrier about something else entirely after the match.

Kessie had been withdrawn after 69 minutes and looked visibly irritated as he was replaced by Andrea Conti.

When Kessie headed back to the bench, Biglia appeared to say something to him and he reacted aggressively, requiring several team-mates to physically restrain him.

Both apologised to the media after the derby clash, but Gattuso remained unimpressed in his post-match news conference.

"It can be that a player makes a mistake," Gattuso told reporters. "In the next few days I'll talk to those involved, now I don't want to say anything.

"I cannot accept that, even if you are angry. We are not in pre-school.

"Luckily, I didn't see it, because if I had seen the incident I would have made a fool of myself and I would have thrown myself into the fray too."

Defeat to Inter ended Milan's five-match winning streak in Serie A.

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