Mauro Icardi is fit and ready to play for Inter again, according to the out-of-favour striker's wife and agent Wanda Nara.

Icardi was again left out of the Inter squad by head coach Luciano Spalletti for Sunday's 1-0 Serie A loss to Lazio at San Siro.

Spalletti stripped Icardi of the captaincy six weeks ago and the Argentina international has not featured since.

After Sergej Milinkovic-Savic's early goal proved decisive in Milan, Spalletti described the ongoing talks between Icardi and Inter over his return to the team as "humiliating".

"It's obvious for everyone to see what happened. It's obvious," he told Sky Sport Italia, amid reports of a training ground row this week. "The way he has behaved, he needs to stay away and others have to play.

"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?"

Icardi and Nara were present to see Inter's home defeat and the 26-year-old's agent responded to Spalletti's latest criticism.

"Mauro is ready and it's all down to the coach's decision," she said on TV show Tiki Taka.

"If Mauro came back, would he make the same choices? It depends on what choices... I don't know. It depends on how you see the situation.

"Mauro has not yet spoken: he only expects to play and is preparing for this.

"His [Spalletti's] words are not a step back. Mauro is used to hearing so many things around him, but then focuses on what needs to be done to help Inter on the field."

Nara added Icardi's silence in the media should not be taken as any indication over his relationship with the club.

"He had a television camera right in his face throughout the game," the striker's wife continued.

"He was willing the team on and obviously cares a lot for his team-mates, but he doesn’t need to say it out loud or on social networks."

Icardi has made no public comment about the standoff with Inter since complaining of a lack of "love and respect" on Instagram on February 28.

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.

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."

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."

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."

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.

Inter head coach Luciano Spalletti insists he has no regrets about his handling of the Mauro Icardi saga.

Icardi will not be involved in Inter's Derby della Madonnina against AC Milan on Sunday, as a stand-off over his future and conflicting takes from club and player over his fitness continue.

Inter are fourth – just a point and place behind their city rivals – but go into the clash having won just once in their last five games and off the back of a Europa League exit to Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday.

The ongoing Icardi soap opera continues to provide an unwelcome distraction for Spalletti but he is adamant that he would not have done anything differently.

"If I go back in time, I lose more time," he told a media conference

"I don't go back, I go on. Choices must be made at the moment and after you have taken them you have to stick with them."

He then told the assembled journalists: "If you go back and rewrite your articles, it's a mess."

Milan enter the game in contrastingly high spirits following a run of five consecutive wins in Serie A. 

That recent upturn owes much to the prolific form of Krzysztof Piatek, who has scored six goals in as many league starts since joining from Genoa in January.

Spalletti, however, says Inter will not be taking any specific measures to stop the Poland striker.

"We usually defend against the whole team, never individually," he explained. "It is clear that we will also have to take into consideration the individual challenge, but it depends where he plays."

When asked if his side can finish above their city rivals, Spalletti made it clear that is focus is squarely on securing a Champions League qualification spot.

"They're a strong team as they're showing at this time, but our aim is to finish in the top four," he added.

AC Milan head coach Gennaro Gattuso has accused Mauro Icardi of lacking respect for his Inter team-mates ahead of Sunday's Derby della Madonnina.

Icardi will not be involved at San Siro when the city rivals clash, as a stand-off over his Inter future and conflicting takes from club and player over his fitness continue.

Milan enter the game in contrastingly high spirits, a point and a place ahead of Inter in third following a run of five consecutive wins in Serie A.

Asked about Icardi, who scored a last-gasp winner when the sides met earlier this season but has now been stripped of the Inter captaincy, Gattuso told a pre-match news conference: "The way I see it, even the best player in the world should respect his team-mates.

"Respect for players and those who represent them is fundamental. The locker room is sacred.

"I appreciate when my players speak their mind in person."

Milan's recent upturn owes much to the prolific form of Krzysztof Piatek, who has scored six goals in as many league starts since joining from Genoa in January.

The Poland striker's dedication in training was initially mistaken for dissatisfaction by Gattuso, who is delighted by his recent recruit's attitude.

"We do not speak much, he prefers actions on the pitch," he said.

"I am beginning to see him smile more often. At the beginning I thought he was upset with me.

"He is dedicated and likes to train, he knows what needs to be done."

Gattuso added: "The team has to make the difference on the pitch. Few players are capable of winning a game on their own, we are not in a condition to win based on just one player."

Luciano Spalletti is not to blame for the problems that have destabilised Inter's season, according to CEO Beppe Marotta.

The Nerazzurri slumped to a shock Europa League exit at the hands of Eintracht Frankfurt in a 1-0 loss at San Siro on Thursday.

Inter have now won just one of their past five matches in all competitions and are in danger of sliding out of the top four in Serie A.

The highly publicised contract saga surrounding Mauro Icardi has exacerbated the pressure on Spalletti ahead of this weekend's Milan derby.

"The coach has nothing to do with it," Marotta told reporters.

"Difficulties arise regardless of the identity of the coach. We have to get to this important milestone [of finishing in the top four] with him.

"There's great bitterness about our elimination from the Europa League. It hurts us. 

"We're not looking for excuses, but the reality is that we had nine players missing [against Frankfurt], not just Icardi."

Inter's star striker has not featured since being stripped of the captaincy in February and is expected to miss Sunday's crunch clash against the Rossoneri, who are one point ahead of Inter in third.

Marotta believes the two parties can still reach a positive resolution despite widespread speculation that the 26-year-old is destined to leave at the end of the season.

"I'm always optimistic because I always think that common sense prevails, and subsequently I think we can find satisfaction," he said.

It was only December when reports emerged the axe could be set to fall on AC Milan boss Gennaro Gattuso, with Arsene Wenger the man on everyone's lips.

Only two wins in seven matches that month, and Ivan Gazidis' arrival from Arsenal, increased pressure on Gattuso and prompted speculation over former Gunners manager Wenger.

Ex-Chelsea and Juventus head coach Antonio Conte was also linked with a return to Italy via Milan.

Since the New Year, however, Gattuso and his Milan have only lost once in 12 games in all competitions – including five successive Serie A victories heading into Sunday's derby against Inter.

Across the city divide, Luciano Spalletti's Inter have stuttered as they deal with the ongoing uncertainty surrounding former captain Mauro Icardi.

With Milan in form and on track to qualify for the Champions League, Rossoneri great Gattuso has fans dreaming again.

 

Difficult December

Already under pressure following Leonardo's return, the month of December only plunged Gattuso's position into further doubt. Back at the club as they continued to overhaul their senior hierarchy under new owners Elliott Management, sporting director Leonardo was forced to deny links with Conte in July. Five months later, the 49-year-old Brazilian then dismissed reports Gattuso could be replaced. Leonardo's backing came after a five-match winless streak, which included a run of four league games without a goal against Torino, Bologna, Fiorentina and Frosinone. At that stage, Inter were third and seven points clear of fourth-placed Lazio following victories over Napoli and Empoli to close out 2018.

Higuain out, Piatek in

Gonzalo Higuain's arrival from Juventus at the expense of Leonardo Bonucci after just one season was meant to signal a new era at San Siro, with the Argentina international seen as the man to follow in the footsteps of Andriy Shevchenko and others. Many believed Milan were the winners of that deal too after also signing promising defender Mattia Caldara. It did not go according to plan, however. Higuain – often a frustrated figure on the pitch – left for Chelsea and a Maurizio Sarri reunion having scored just eight goals in all competitions. Milan wasted little time replacing the former Napoli striker, turning to Genoa sensation Krzysztof Piatek in a €35million deal in January. With Brazilian star Lucas Paqueta's transfer triggering memories of Kaka, Milan enjoyed an upturn in form. After making his debut against Napoli, Piatek opened his account with a double against the same opposition in the Coppa Italia three days later. Milan only lost once in January – against Juve in the Supercoppa Italiana – as Gattuso celebrated his true number nine.

Atalanta comeback

Leaving the Italian capital with a point against Roma thanks to Piatek further highlighted Milan's resurgence, which the Poland international and Paqueta backed up at home to Cagliari. But, it was the win at Atalanta that really impressed. One of the most entertaining teams in the league under Gian Piero Gasperini, Atalanta were stunned by a red-hot Milan. With another Piatek brace, a settled front three and a midfield trio of Franck Kessie, Paqueta and Tiemoue Bakayoko – finally returning to his Monaco form – performing well, doubts over Gattuso quickly disappeared. As for the Nerazzurri, they went through a turbulent February. After playing as Inter snapped a three-match losing run against Parma, Icardi was stripped of the captaincy and replaced by Samir Handanovic. The 26-year-old has not featured in the eight matches since.

Milan leapfrog Inter

Repaying the faith shown and solidifying the rebuilding project under Elliott Management, Gattuso's Milan continued to fly high as they went from fourth to third, dislodging Inter for the final Champions League automatic qualifying spot. A fourth successive league win at home to Sassuolo, coupled with Inter's shock loss away to Cagliari, saw Milan take full advantage to leapfrog their bitter rivals in the standings. Absent from the Champions League since 2013-14, Milan cemented that position – only six points behind second-placed Napoli – with a gritty victory on the road against Chievo, where Piatek enhanced his status as a fan favourite.

Mauro Icardi's ongoing stand-off with Inter looms over this weekend's derby showdown against AC Milan at San Siro.

The striker was stripped of the club captaincy in February and is yet to return to training following a knee problem, despite head coach Luciano Spalletti stating he has been cleared by Inter's medical staff.

Icardi's wife and agent Wanda Nara insisted again this week that the Argentina international wants to remain with the Nerazzurri but, even if he does, his status as the most potent frontman in the city is under threat.

Poland's Krzysztof Piatek has been a revelation since joining Milan from Genoa in January and the rivals' contrasting form of late can partially be explained by the contributions of their leading centre-forwards.

With Piatek making hay as Icardi watches on, we took a look at some Opta data comparing the two number nines.

80.33 – Piatek averages better than a goal a game in Serie A since linking up with Gennaro Gattuso's squad, netting six in as many starts to average one every 80.33 minutes.

13 – The 23-year's introduction to Serie A with Genoa earlier this season was similarly prolific as he scored 13 times in 19 appearances.

102.34 – Icardi's goals-per-minute reading for 2017-18, when he scored 29 in 34 Serie A outings – all of which were starts. Piatek's Genoa stint was shy of this in terms of goal regularity, clocking 122.62 minutes per goal.

9 – Icardi's productivity had dropped off considerably this season, even before his absence. Over the course of 20 appearances, 18 from the first whistle, he has scored nine times or once every 185.44 minutes.

76.92 – Piatek's shooting accuracy percentage at Milan, up from 50 at Genoa. Over the course of his prolific 2017-18, Icardi's accuracy stood at 63.1 per cent as he returned 1.6 shots on target per game.

37.5 – Another number assisted by the smaller sample of Piatek's time at Milan, but his shot conversion percentage is, again, impressively high. Icardi converted 28.71 per cent last season, down to 16.98 this time around.

Inter's Europa League campaign came to a lacklustre end as Luka Jovic's early strike secured Eintracht Frankfurt's progression into the quarter-finals with a 1-0 win.

Kevin Trapp had been Frankfurt's hero with his penalty save in the goalless first leg and, without a recognised striker to call on, Luciano Spalletti's Inter side were toothless throughout Thursday's meeting.

Jovic showed Inter – still without Mauro Icardi, who has not played since being stripped of the captaincy in mid-February – what they were missing with a composed finish that paved the way for a dominant Frankfurt display at San Siro.

Sebastien Haller hit the woodwork prior to Jovic's strike and Frankfurt would have had more if not for fine work from Samir Handanovic and Milan Skriniar as Inter, who face AC Milan in a huge Serie A clash on Sunday, went out with a whimper.

Any doubts over Frankfurt's approach to the contest were put aside after four minutes – Haller hitting the crossbar after Handanovic had kept out Mijat Gacinovic's effort.

Inter failed to heed that warning, though, and Frankfurt had the lead a minute later when Jovic capitalised on Stefan de Vrij's misjudgement and lofted a delicate finish over Handanovic.

Haller looked to have made it 2-0 before the half hour, but the offside flag came to Inter's rescue before the striker and Gacinovic were denied in the same move by Handanovic's superb double save.

Jovic could have doubled his tally after the restart, only to slip at the vital moment, while Skriniar made a crucial challenge to deny Gacinovic a free shot at goal.

But, despite Jovic heading straight at Handanovic late on, Frankfurt were not made to pay for their profligacy, speculative efforts from Antonio Candreva and Skriniar the most Inter could muster as their European hopes were limply extinguished.

 

What does it mean? Frankfurt flying Germany's flag in Europe

With Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich having crashed out of the Champions League, Frankfurt are now the Bundesliga's sole representatives in Europe, and will rightly harbour hopes of going all the way.

Inter, meanwhile, must now focus on securing Champions League qualification via a top-four finish in Serie A, but their task continues to be overshadowed by doubts over Icardi's future.

Jovic back on the goal trail

Considering his exploits this season, three games without a goal represented a dip in form for Jovic, but the 21-year-old – who has 15 Bundesliga goals this term –  ended his mini draught in typically clinical fashion.

Keita toils in Icardi, Martinez absences

With Icardi not available and Lautaro Martinez suspended, Keita Balde Diao deputised up top for Inter, but despite offering pace and guile, he lacked the nous and positional sense to really test Frankfurt's line.

What's next?

It is the Milan derby up next for Inter, who are currently a point behind their city rivals in Serie A as both clubs aim to secure Champions League qualification. Frankfurt, meanwhile, take on Nurnberg as they push for a top-four Bundesliga finish.

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