Luciano Spalletti sees no reason to doubt Mauro Icardi after the striker reaffirmed his commitment to Inter.

Amid recent reports in the Italian media that he is angling for a move away from San Siro, Icardi took to social media on Friday to stress he is not interested in a transfer.

"I want to inform our fans that I have repeatedly informed the club of my intention to stay at Inter," he posted on his Instagram account.

"Thus, from now on, no misunderstandings of any kind will be created. I understand the interests of the press to sell fake news but I can't do anything more than to clarify things personally."

The Argentina international has endured a difficult campaign at Inter - his sixth with the club since joining from Sampdoria - having been stripped of the captaincy in February and missed a couple of months with a knee injury.

But Spalletti is confident Icardi, who returned to action in April, is fully committed to the club and will consider selecting the 26-year-old against Napoli on Sunday.

"I always value the things that are said. I think he’s a good person and a great player," he said at Saturday's news conference. "If he expressed himself this way with two matches to go, then it must be considered [as being correct].

"Icardi is training in the right way and is available. Everything is okay."

Third-place Inter require only three more points from their final two matches, away to Napoli and home to Empoli on the final day, to secure a Champions League spot for the second consecutive year.

And Spalletti, who will reportedly be replaced in the San Siro dugout by Antonio Conte at the end of the campaign, insists the future is bright for his side.

"We have grown a lot since last season," he said. "We have worked well, we have seen positive results. We have done well in the present to set up an even better future.

"We must first play and win, then we talk about third place. It is a speech that is made later, it does not move us an inch now, we must remain attentive and focused. We focus on the current objective, which is the match against Napoli.

"We want to bring the maximum points home. We have trained well and what we saw in the last few games, even if we didn't win much, was the right attitude. We will try to repeat that, we want to win.

"We have to get back on the bus that's heading to the Champions League. The millions of Inter fans deserve it - they've shown great attachment to the colours over the past few years."

Mauro Icardi has reaffirmed his commitment to Inter after "repeatedly" telling the Serie A club of his desire to stay beyond this season. 

The Argentina striker took to social media on Friday to address reports in the Italian media which claimed he is angling for a move to champions Juventus.

Icardi, 26, is coming to the end of a difficult sixth season at San Siro which has seen him lose the captaincy and spend time nearly two months out of the first team amid conflicting views of an apparent knee injury.

He returned to the fold in April and has now moved to dismiss all transfer speculation.

"Since the press has recently reported news that does not reflect my thoughts and my will, I want to inform our fans that I have repeatedly informed the club of my intention to stay at Inter," Icardi said on Instagram.

"Thus, from now on, no misunderstandings of any kind will be created. I understand the interests of the press to sell fake news but I can't do anything more than to clarify things personally.

"I repeat: I have already expressed to Inter my desire to stay, because Inter is my family. Time will tell who told the truth.

"Forza Inter, always."

Icardi has scored 16 times in all competitions for Luciano Spalletti's side this term.

Inter still have two matches to play in Serie A, against Napoli and Empoli, with a victory in either match enough to secure Champions League qualification.

Mauro Icardi has reaffirmed his commitment to Inter after "repeatedly" telling the Serie A club of his desire to stay beyond this season.

Mauro Icardi and Paul Pogba would make ideal transfer targets for Juventus, according to former midfielder Claudio Marchisio, who has "never understood" why his old team-mate left the club.

Pogba spent four years in Turin after leaving Manchester United, before he returned in a then-world record £89.1million transfer in 2016.

The France star has been tipped to leave Old Trafford after this season, though, with Juve and Real Madrid said to be firm favourites to sign a player who has been criticised for inconsistency during his time in England.

Marchisio, who made nine Russian Premier League appearances for Zenit in 2018-19 in an injury-plagued first season after leaving Juve, wants to see Pogba back in black and white.

"Looking at Juventus' team, I think it lacks a player that can help the team offensively and Pogba would be the ideal player for that," Marchisio told Tuttosport.

"I never understood his decision to return to Manchester; he had already been there.

"If he wanted to improve, it would have made so much sense for him to move to Spain."

Marchisio also called for the Old Lady to swoop for Inter striker Mauro Icardi, claiming an all-Argentine strike force would be "perfect" for Massimiliano Allegri's side.

Icardi's wife and agent Wanda Nara added weight to reports the Nerazzurri star could be on his way to the Allianz Stadium to join compatriot Dybala when she confirmed offers from "the best teams" have come in for him.

Marchisio said he remains in close contact with Dybala and recommended Icardi as a perfect foil for the 25-year-old Juve forward.

"I often talk to Dybala, we are close friends," he said. "He knows that he didn't perform well this season, but that can happen to any great player.

"He is determined to bounce back, and I hope they find a way to play him alongside [Cristiano] Ronaldo, because he is insanely talented."

Marchisio compared 26-year-old Icardi to former Juve striker David Trezeguet, adding: "He needs his team-mates to play his style, but of course he is an amazing player.

"An attacking duo featuring Icardi and Dybala would be perfect, also considering the age of the two."

Inter ended a three-match winless run to take a big step towards Champions League qualification with a 2-0 win over Chievo in Serie A.

Already-relegated Chievo had not beaten Inter at San Siro in 15 attempts heading into Monday's encounter, and they never looked likely to end that streak once Matteo Politano scored in the 39th minute.

Politano's effort was just reward for a dominant performance from Luciano Spalletti's side, though their fans were frustrated by wasteful finishing from Ivan Perisic and some fine saves from Adrian Semper.

Chievo's slim hopes of a comeback were ended after Nicola Rigoni saw red late on, though, and Perisic made sure of the victory with four minutes to go as Inter moved back above Atalanta into third place.

Inter had no problem in asserting their authority, with both Perisic and Milan Skriniar passing up presentable chances in the opening stages.

Perisic went close again in the 28th minute – his shot from a tight angle well saved by Semper.

But Inter's siege on Chievo's goal finally paid off six minutes before half-time when Politano sent a precise finish in off the inside of the right-hand post.

Emanuel Vignato almost restored parity after the restart, though Chievo would have been further behind had Semper not pulled off a fine save to deny Politano a second before reacting sharply to keep out Perisic's follow-up try.

Semper was beaten after the hour, but Perisic's low strike clipped off the upright and fell kindly for the keeper.

Rigoni's rash challenge on Roberto Gagliardini saw him receive a second yellow card soon after and Inter made their numerical advantage count when Perisic finally found the net after Cedric Soares had hit the woodwork.

 

What does it mean? Inter closing in on Champions League qualification

Two games remain of the Serie A season and, as it stands, Inter are in pole position to secure a place in Europe's elite club competition.

The Nerazzurri sit third, one point above Atalanta and four better off than their city rivals AC Milan. One more win would be enough to guarantee a top-four finish.

Politano makes up for Perisic's profligacy

It would be harsh to say Perisic had a poor game, given he was involved in most of Inter's play but, until his late finish, the Croatia winger lacked his usual composure in front of goal.

Fortunately, his opposite winger Politano had no such issue, and he had already set Inter well on their way to a win when Perisic finally found his shooting boots.

Icardi a shadow of his former self

Inter striker Mauro Icardi has scored just once in Serie A since returning to the first-team fold, and he was largely anonymous on Monday against a defence that has conceded over 70 goals this season. Icardi then received a mixed reaction from the San Siro faithful when he was taken off in the 79th minute.

Given his form, perhaps Icardi's loss – if indeed he is to leave in the close season – would not be such a blow to Inter after all.

What's next?

Inter face a tough trip to Napoli in their penultimate Serie A outing, while Chievo face Sampdoria. Both of those fixtures take place on Sunday.

Inter head coach Luciano Spalletti has no problem with Mauro Icardi's naked photos on social media as long as his striker continues to turn up for work appropriately dressed.

Icardi has posted a number of suggestive images of himself alongside wife and agent Wanda Nara on Instagram over the past week.

Those pictures and the media attention they attracted had the potential to become an unwelcome distraction for Spalletti and the Nerazzurri, who visit Udinese on Saturday looking to cement their grip on a place in Serie A's top four that would secure Champions League qualification.

But in a media conference on Friday, Spalletti shrugged off questions about Icardi's conduct away from the pitch.

"I don't know what you are exactly referring to," Spalletti said.

"When he comes here, he is always dressed as Inter. I'm interested in that."

Icardi was stripped of the captaincy earlier this season as the club took a strong stance in the wake of a dispute between the hierarchy, the player and Nara before he returned to the fold following a two-month absence.

The 2017-18 campaign saw Icardi rattle in 29 Serie A goals to finish as the division's joint-leading scorer, but this term he has managed just 10 from his 25 appearances.

And Spalletti believes the Argentina international has suffered as a result of his fractured relationship with the club, but insists there are no lingering issues between them as individuals.

"A few things have happened that may have limited him," Spalletti added. "What is special about him is the balance. A footballer who has a well-established depth of behaviour and way of doing things.

"This will lead him to confirm those great numbers he has always had. From my point of view there is no problem, my future is called Inter-Udinese, it's not called Icardi or not Icardi.

"Then it will be the result of Napoli, the match against Empoli. I have no problem with training or letting anyone play."

With matches against Udinese, Chievo, Napoli and Empoli remaining, Inter sit third, four points clear of fifth-placed Roma in the race for a top-four finish.

Kylian Mbappe's hat-trick in Paris Saint-Germain's title-clinching win over Monaco on Sunday took his tally of league goals for the season to 30. 

It has been a stellar campaign for the 20-year-old on the back of World Cup glory with France and no player under 21 has managed such a single-season scoring haul in European football since Brazil great Ronaldo 24 years ago. 

But, how do Mbappe's numbers compare to those of other prestigious talents during their formative years, such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. 

Using Opta data, we take a look at the players with the highest-scoring seasons before they turned 21. 

PREMIER LEAGUE: LIVERPOOL DUO LEAD THE WAY

The Premier League has seen some incredible talents emerge from its various clubs over the years, as well as bringing in some of the finest talent from abroad. 

Cristiano Ronaldo scored 14 goals in the competition before his 21st birthday, while Manchester United team-mate Wayne Rooney netted 44 times. 

Other standout performers at a young age include Romelu Lukaku, Nicolas Anelka and Chris Sutton. 

But it is two former Liverpool stars who amassed the most goals before hitting 21. Michael Owen scored 55 times before December 14, 2000, with Robbie Fowler netting 64 from 1993 to 1996. 

Fowler's highest tally came in 1995-96, when he struck 28 times as Liverpool finished third, although the last of those goals came after his 21st birthday. 

LIGUE 1: MBAPPE IN ESTEEMED COMPANY

Kylian Mbappe is going from strength to strength and already has 58 top-flight goals to his name. 

PSG's striking sensation has been instrumental for Thomas Tuchel's side this term and leads the way in Ligue 1 when it comes to goals scored in a single season while aged under 21.  

France great Michel Platini scored 22 goals for Nancy in the 1975-76 campaign, while Djibril Cisse netted the same amount in 2001-02 for Auxerre. 

Karim Benzema, meanwhile, enjoyed a 20-goal season at Lyon in 2007-08. 

LALIGA: RAUL COMES OUT ON TOP

It is not often that Lionel Messi finds himself down a pecking order, but in this case his record of 31 league goals before the age of 21 sees him down the list of LaLiga's most prolific young scorers. 

Messi, of course, did not play as an outright striker during his breakthrough seasons at Camp Nou, with his highest goalscoring season coming in 2006-07, when he registered 14.

Atletico Madrid duo Fernando Torres and Sergio Aguero were both reliable goalscorers, with both players scoring 19 times in their best seasons. 

But Atleti also had to watch a one-time youth player flourish with city rivals Real Madrid. Raul scored 59 times before turning 21, including a haul of 21 goals from 42 appearances in 1996-97. 

BUNDESLIGA & SERIE A: WERNER, ICARDI MODERN-DAY SUCCESSES

Klaus Fischer, Horst Koppel and Dieter Muller all impressed at a young age in the Bundesliga, though their goals came during the 1960s and 1970s. 

Since then, youngsters have struggled to score on a consistent basis in Germany's top flight, with RB Leipzig's Timo Werner managing 14 goals prior to turning 21 during the 2016-17 season. 

In Serie A, Mauro Icardi scored 10 goals for Sampdoria in 2012-13 before moving to Inter, where he netted nine times in his maiden season at the club. 

EREDIVISIE: RONALDO JOINED BY AJAX LEGENDS

The last player under 21 to score 30 league goals in a season before Mbappe was Ronaldo in 1994-95, with O Fenomeno hitting the milestone aged just 18. 

While Ronaldo excelled at PSV, it was Ajax that produced the Eredivisie's finest young scorer - Johan Cruyff scoring 33 times for Ajax during the 1966-67 campaign. 

And Ajax also produced three more players on this list; Wim Kieft (33), Marco van Basten (27) and Patrick Kluivert, who scored 18 league goals in 1994-95, as well as helping the Amsterdam club claim Champions League glory. 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic made the move from Malmo to Ajax aged 19, but netted just six goals in his debut season in the Netherlands. 

Mauro Icardi expects to be at Inter next season despite this term's controversies, says his agent and wife Wanda Nara.

Icardi was stripped of the captaincy in February as protracted contract talks caused reported tension with the club's hierarchy.

He subsequently did not play for two months - with Icardi and Inter offering different takes on the severity of the striker's knee complaint - and though the Argentina international scored on his return against Genoa on April 3, he has not found the net since.

Icardi's long-term future at the club remains in doubt - he is under contract until 2021 and has been linked with Real Madrid - but Nara says he plans to stay.

"Mauro continues to score, he goes ahead because he is the strength of the family," she told Verissimo. 

"Now he is calmer, he embraces everyone because he has always had a beautiful relationship with everyone.

"We will be here [at Inter] again next year."

Inter are at home to Roma on Saturday in a match that could be potentially decisive in the Champions League race.

Luciano Spalletti says Inter must end the season without any regrets as they attempt to secure Champions League qualification.

The Nerazzurri enjoyed a strong first two months of 2018-19 before a run of just two wins in nine games in all competitions saw them knocked out of the Champions League at the group stage and fall well behind Juventus in the Serie A title race.

Having exited the Coppa Italia to Lazio on penalties and crashed out of the Europa League at the hands of Eintracht Frankfurt, this season will be Inter's eighth in a row without silverware.

They remain on course for a top-four finish, though, with a five-point gap to AC Milan in fourth and Atalanta in fifth with only seven matches to go.

And Spalletti is determined to clinch a Champions League return to make the end of the season successful.

"I met with the club and we decided we shouldn't have any regrets for this Serie A season," the Inter boss told a news conference on Saturday. "We must do everything now to reach the treasure: the Champions League.

"Every weekend will feel like that [a final] from now on, but we must focus only on our own results and not make the mistake of thinking otherwise. 

"We need to see the Inter that has been playing recently: one capable of beating anybody, knowing every result can make a difference at this stage of the season."

Inter head to Frosinone on Sunday, a match in which Spalletti suggested Mauro Icardi and Lautaro Martinez could play in a front two.

"Lautaro is okay. He has trained well, and he could play from the first minute," he said.

"Top players always find a solution for everything. Icardi and Lautaro are two central strikers. They can play together at specific moments in a game.

"Obviously, one of them attacks the goal more fiercely, but we're splitting hairs when looking for differences."

Radja Nainggolan has criticised Mauro Icardi for his recent absence from the Inter side, claiming his team-mates paid the price for an off-field dispute.

Icardi was out of action for almost two months after being stripped of the Nerazzurri captaincy in February, with agent and wife Wanda Nara reportedly angering club officials with comments she made about the team before insisting her husband, sat in the stands, was available to play.

The Argentina forward finally returned with a goal and an assist at Genoa last week to boost Inter's hopes of Champions League qualification.

While Nainggolan is glad to have Icardi back, he does not believe the issues between himself and his wife and the club should have been allowed to impact the team.

"Every player in a team is important, but nobody is indispensable," Nainggolan told Corriere dello Sport.

"Mauro is a great player, but we have another forward in Lautaro Martinez who did very well when given the chance and who is destined for the top.

"Too much has been said. If Mauro had problems with someone, it should have been up to him to resolve them and not let those issues damage the rest of the team.

"Enough now, he is training and available, just like everyone else. If he continues like this and scores goals, he is an important player to have.

"I told him what I thought, which was that, if he had problems that he needed to resolve with someone, the whole group could not be made to pay for it with his absence.

"[Coach Luciano] Spalletti put the focus on the group. A coach must be credible in the eyes of his players and Spalletti tried to deal with the situation as best he could by doing what he had to do."

Inter face Frosinone on Sunday and then, next week, Nainggolan will come up against former club Roma.

And the midfielder reserved some criticism for Monchi, the Sevilla sporting director who played a part in Nainggolan's departure during a largely unsuccessful spell in Rome.

"I had an open relationship with Monchi," he said. "He often brought together six or seven of the top players and we all talked about how to do the best for the club and the team.

"I felt like an important player. Then, however, I learned of the things he said about me.

"Three days after he left Roma, the team he claimed to be in love with, he agreed to return to Seville. For me, this shows many things.

"Without him, hypothetically, I could still have been at Roma - or even with another team because maybe they wanted to send me elsewhere. I chose Inter because Spalletti pushed for me and it was the right decision."

Luciano Spalletti was satisfied with Inter's performance against Atalanta despite having to settle for a 0-0 draw in a key game in the race for the top four in Serie A.

Third-placed Inter are now five points ahead of Atalanta and AC Milan, who are level on 52 points, in an exciting battle for Champions League football.

But there was not too much to get the pulses racing in Sunday's San Siro stalemate, though that did not bother Spalletti.

"It was a determined approach from both teams and good to see so much fair play on the field," he told Sky Sport Italia.

"Ivan Perisic had a rough start, but slowly got warmed up and did what he had to do.

"Every now and then, we get a little chaotic in possession and do not always make logical decisions. Simplicity might seem cheap, but it's what you need to create spaces."

Mauro Icardi made his first San Siro appearance since February following the saga that came about as a result of him being stripped of the captaincy.

Icardi scored on his return at Genoa last time out, but Spalletti was not interested in talking about the striker’s performance against Atalanta.

"I've spoken about Mauro too much, as has everyone, so I want to talk about Inter," he added. "Icardi has to do well, come back and combine with the midfielders, as he did more so today, and run for the team, as all complete strikers do.

"I focus more on the performance than the result. I am relaxed if the team is playing good football, so I don't just want to score a goal to get the job done. The team played well today, so I am happy."

Marcelo Brozovic sustained a thigh strain that forced him off after 20 minutes, with Spalletti saying: "We’ll have to see what the tests say, but he certainly won't be there for the next game [against Frosinone]."

 

Mauro Icardi had little impact on his return to San Siro as Champions League-hopefuls Atalanta held Inter to a 0-0 draw on Sunday.

Icardi missed almost two months of action before Wednesday's win over Genoa, with speculation over his future, a contract stand-off and conflicting fitness claims all playing a part in the saga, but his re-emergence at San Siro fell flat.

Inter edged an entertaining first half, though they were unable to make the breakthrough, with Icardi particularly culpable when wasting a one-on-one situation.

Atalanta improved in the second half and caused Inter issues, but like their hosts they were unable to find a way through, meaning they failed to move above fourth-placed AC Milan, whom Inter move five points clear of.

Matias Vecino looked particularly threatening during the exchanges, first having a goal disallowed for straying just offside, before forcing Pierluigi Gollini into an acrobatic save with a looping long-range half-volley.

Icardi then spurned a glorious chance in the 31st minute, as he tried to take on Gollini and made a mess of it, much to the crowd's annoyance.

Gollini again had to be alert just prior to the break, saving Matteo Politano's shot after the winger had a previous attempt crucially blocked by Jose Luis Palomino.

Inter had a lucky escape early in the second half – Josip Ilicic doing brilliantly to flash the ball across the face of goal, but Alejandro Gomez could only get the slightest of touches to it.

The hosts had one final chance to claim all three points, but Timothy Castagne headed clear just before Danilo D'Ambrosio could convert from Icardi's flick-on.

 

What does it mean? A missed opportunity for Atalanta

Although they were without top-scorer Duvan Zapata through suspension, Atalanta might feel they have spurned a great chance.

Inter are not in unbelievable form by any stretch of the imagination and they were hardly rampant on Sunday, yet Atalanta – usually free-scoring – appeared to play within themselves for long periods.

Gollini a commanding presence

While Inter were not excellent, they had the chances to win. They ultimately failed because of Gollini, with the 24-year-old producing a string of fine saves.

Icardi's impact minimal

Perhaps the jeers from Inter's 'ultras' had a role, but Icardi was generally quiet and ineffective. His one big chance was completely wasted, as he looked rusty and lacking in belief.

What's next?

Inter travel to relegation-threatened Frosinone next Sunday, while Atalanta host Empoli a day later.

Mauro Icardi's fractious relationship with Inter has underlined the importance of a wider team ethic to coach Luciano Spalletti.

Striker Icardi was stripped of his captaincy in February after comments from his wife and agent Wanda Nara were said to have riled club officials.

He returned in style to score in Inter's 4-0 defeat of Genoa last time out and is line to feature again at home to Atalanta this weekend.

Speaking ahead of that game, which presents Inter with a chance to avenge their 4-1 loss in the reverse fixture, Spalletti said: "The Icardi issue was an opportunity to re-evaluate that Inter are a team and not a single player.

"As I said many times, there are moments during the season when you have to analyse things more carefully.

"We must try to be authentic and not timid. Be clear, be yourself. Do what is best in that moment for these club colours."

The club's Curva Nord supporters are set to protest Icardi's ongoing employment at San Siro, having released a statement denouncing the 26-year-old.

Spalletti did not outright disagree with their sentiments, but hopes the fans will get behind their team on Sunday. 

"Inter belongs to those who love it and above all those who actively participate in supporting it," he said.

"I am convinced that those who have Inter in their heart will know how to behave and work to help the team get a result."

Inter's Curva Nord supporters have again outlined their belief that Mauro Icardi should be jettisoned from the club, even after his scoring return in midweek.

Prior to the Serie A trip to Genoa, Icardi had not played for the Nerazzurri since he was stripped of his captaincy in February, with comments from his wife and agent Wanda Nara reportedly angering club officials.

A statement issued by the Curva Nord ahead of Wednesday's match made it clear that a section of the fans did not wish to see the Argentina forward in Inter colours again.

But coach Luciano Spalletti subsequently brought Icardi back into the fold and he starred in a 4-0 defeat of Genoa, scoring from the penalty spot, assisting another goal and drawing an opposition red card.

The striker is in line to return to San Siro against Atalanta on Sunday, but he has not been forgiven by the Curva Nord, who say Icardi "dug his own grave".

The group's latest statement on Saturday read: "Awaiting tomorrow's important game, we reiterate the position of the Curva Nord.

"We are not ones to dictate what other fans at San Siro ought to do. We are not interested in making lists of who is better or more of an Inter fan.

"But we will not backtrack on Icardi. He cannot be the future of Inter. Refusing to wear the jersey on more than one occasion with ridiculous excuses, he dug his own grave.

"If Inter officials were too wavering in their behaviour, that cannot be our problem. The basic issue remains. Let's leave the fairy tales to issues of internal survival in a split that, at this stage, looks to be irreparable.

"As far as we are concerned, the time of 'I'd like to but I cannot' is over. We made our views clear at the training ground and during the Genoa game. We'll continue to express them during the matches with the methods we consider best.

"Having said that, we are fans. We go to the stadium to cheer on Inter, to help the team to victory - not to give more importance than is necessary to a figure who we had finished with a long time ago.

"Do not fear, Icardi will be considered as much as is right. Perhaps those who expect 90 minutes of chants against him will be disappointed, but let's not confuse what is best for Inter with hypocrisy."

Jose Mourinho is the ideal coach to reunite the Inter dressing room following the damage caused by the Mauro Icardi affair, according to Luigi Simoni.

Icardi made his first appearance in almost two months on Wednesday to help lead Inter to a 4-0 win at Genoa that strengthened their grip on third place in Serie A.

It was the first time Icardi had been involved since being stripped of the club captaincy amid reports of problems with the club's hierarchy, which left him ostracised from Luciano Spalletti's squad.

Ivan Perisic is rumoured to have had a furious argument with the Argentina forward after his wife and agent, Wanda Nara, spoke on TV about "personal problems" between the team-mates.

Mourinho found his relationship with senior players at Manchester United had deteriorated significantly before he was sacked last December, with Paul Pogba said to be chief among those who fell out with the manager.

But former Inter boss Simoni thinks the man who delivered the treble to San Siro in 2009-10 would be able to restore harmony to the dressing room.

"We need to rebuild the atmosphere," Simoni, who won the UEFA Cup with Inter in 1998, told FCInternews. "Mourinho would be ideal, as he was good at creating a rock-solid group during his Nerazzurri experience.

"Of course, returns are always complicated, but in the event of a separation with Spalletti, whom I respect, I would bet on the Portuguese. I'm in favour of his return."

Simoni, who was a popular figure with players and fans in his brief spell in charge, thinks Icardi and Perisic are likely to leave given the damage that seems to have been caused to the squad's morale.

"Situations like these break dressing rooms," he said. "The management was a bit absent. Immediate action was needed to quell the problem.

"You need harmony within the group to get results. You don't win and you don't go far if there are problems in the dressing room.

"Players today are more individualistic. They think of themselves first, and then of the good of the team.

"That Inter [of 1997-98] had so many strong and prominent personalities. The boys created a fantastic harmony. [Former president Massimo] Moratti always tells me, 'There was never an Inter where all the players got on so well together as in 97-98'.

"There needed to be an effort from the club to protect the coach, who was left alone. It's not possible for there to be problems in the dressing room without the club immediately putting a halt to them.

"I imagine that, at the end of the season, Icardi and Perisic will leave."

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