Inter’s Argentinian captain Mauro Icardi gave a long interview to Gazzetta dello Sport, speaking on a wide variety of issues, from how he became an Inter-fan to the upcoming Juventus match tomorrow night but beginning with the rumours that place him with a move to Real Madrid when the transfer window opens this January. Below you can read the entire interview in English only on SempreInter.com.
In Spain they are reporting that you will be undertaking medical examinations with Real Madrid at the end of the year to finalize a transfer?
If Real Madrid, Bayern or PSG arrive with the cash to pay the release fee clause in your contract together with a new contract what do you do then?
“I have already replied to this question many times, it is not the right time to be having certain discussions. Besides I don’t handle these things.”
The clause can only be activated if you say yes?
“No-one has arrived yet [laughs]. Everything is clear, I am very happy in Milano, everyone knows this. I love the city, how we play, I score a lot of goals and I am the captain of a huge club, these are important things for me. There are others who have to think about questions relating to the transfer window, I am interested in what happens on the pitch, I have to only think about doing my duties, meaning scoring goals and helping the team. Wanda is here to talk with the club.”
There is a lot of talk about a renewal, about the release clause being to low, but do you honestly want to stay in Milano?
“Inter put in the clause in my contract, I don’t know if it is high or low, and my intensions are clear. Let me repeat, I want to win something with this shirt. In the future, eventually if the moment arrives that an offer were to come or not, everyone must go and talk with Inter, Piero Ausilio and the President and then we will see.”
So in conclusion, if Inter don’t sacrifice you…
“I am happy here in Milano.”
Ausilio says that many contracts will be renewed…
“We have already renewed many and now others will come too [laughs]. Piero likes to negotiate with Wanda, they have a love-hate relationship.”
You have always had Inter in your head during these past poor years. Where does the love for this club come from?
“It is Adriano and Martins fault. As a little boy I always used to be Inter when I played Playstation, Adriano was devastating and Martins was incredibly fast. I also like the fact that many Argentinians have made history at Inter. I wasn’t a fan back then but the black and blue colours started entering my head then there is another story that ties me to Inter. One day, when we were still living on the Canary Islands, some friends of our family travelled to Milano and took the San Siro tour. They returned with two caps, one was an Inter cap and one was a Milan cap. They had bought them for me and a friend, I chose first and I took Inter’s cap without any doubts. Maybe it was this way that I became a fan. It was very emotional when Moratti personally said he wanted me at Inter from Sampdoria at all costs.”
Let’s talk about the team today. It is basically the same players in the squad that were here last year, so what has changed?
“The atmosphere surrounding the squad has changed, in every way possible and this is mainly thanks to coach Spalletti and the great relationship he has with the club’s directors.”
Can you describe Spalletti?
“He has a very strong personality, he knows how to immediately let you know exactly what he wants and he feels is right. He has helped the dressing room a lot and has entered our heads, he has already changed several things during this short period.”
There is talk of exceptional work on the pitch..
“Almost all of the coaches work really well on the pitch. Spalletti is surely a great coach in this aspect but the difference can above all be found off the pitch, this is why I am talkign about a different and better atmosphere. Last year we began the pre-season training with Mancini, the De Boer arrived a few days before the season began, then De Boer left and Pioli came. Today, however, everything about the team is clear and this has brought us tranquility to the various components of the team, everyone has put themselves in the condition to work in the best way possible. One could see this from the pre-season training camp during the summer…”
From the sidelines it seems that the impact Spalletti has had is mostly from a psychological point of view. Last season the team seemed to collapse at every minor obstacle it faced, is this a correct observation?
“In my opinion, when things outside of the dressing room are not clear you create some confusion and then this confusion goes everywhere. We were all warned last season, everyone from players to the directors. In conclusion, you cannot collect certain prizes when you haven’t resolved the issues from the beginning.”
What must Juventus vs Inter tell you?
“It has to give us continuity to what we have been demontrating until now. We are not top of the league by chance, but we have to live through this evening as one stage of a long journey. There is as always three points up for grabs and we can’t ever forget this. Then, of course, we know the significance of these types of matches so we have to face it with intelligence, without losing sight of our objectives.”
Can this Inter win the Scudetto?
“Our Scudetto is to qualify for the Champions League, the club has asked this of us, this is the objective which we can’t fail in achieving.”
The fans are however dreaming…
“It is right that they are living this dream, we however must remain concrete and keep our feet firmly on the ground. We have to qualify for the Champions League, then if we are up there with 3-4 matches remaining we will begin to think about bigger things. We were top of the league under Mancini towards the end of the first half of the season and we ended the season poorly in 4th place.”
Why does this season have to end better?
“Everyone has the right mentality. We are calm, concrete, certain and now we need the fans to give us a handfrom this aspect too.”
Last season the match against Juventus ended in a nervous manner with Perisic being sent off and then being suspended for kicking the ball close to the referee Rizzoli. What atmosphere will we see tomorrow in Turin?
“If what happened last season happens again the coach will cut our heads off. Pressure can play mean jokes on you, but today we know how to handle every situation, I am sure of this. We have the right mentality to take on this kind of fixture.”
Is this the best Icardi we have ever seen?
“No, the best is yet to come.”
We are however seeing a complete striker, who scores goals for fun whilst also working really hard for the team.
“Here the work that our coach puts in during the week counts for a lot, and as a consequence of what he always tells us, every day, predisposing us to always do something more to help a team-mate, in order to help the team. Spalletti is a hammer in certain ways and it is not by chance that whoever comes off the bench is always motivated and involved.”
Your goal average is very impressive, at this rate you can beat Higuain’s record.
“Last season I scored 24 goals and we didn’t collect anything for it. Sure, I want to score a lot of goals, but only if it helps to return Inter to where the club must always be, in the Champions League.”
Is Icardi a top player today or is there still something lacking?
“I miss playing in Europe. In order to be at the top, I have to play at a certain level. The Serie A is a great league but playing in the Champions League is the final fundamental step, which is very necessary.”
Will playing in the World Cup help?
“Of course, all the best players on the planet are there. If I were to be selected I would get a unique opportunity.”
It has taken a long time through several national team coaches for you to be called up to the national team regularly. Have you ever been tempted to play for Italy? Prandelli was prepared to create a fake passport for you.
“No, I am an Argentinian and I have always dreamed to wear the Seleccion’s shirt. I have reached my goal and now I want to win for my country.”
There is talk that Sampaoli was angry that you withdrew from the last time the national team was called for the friendlies..
“Stupid! They write a lot of things in Argentina only to sell paper, often things that are not true.”
You don’t have the support of Maradona.
“He was a legend on the pitch but I don’t know what to reply. I don’t know his as a person, I know his son and I know a few things but I don’t talk about people I don’t meet personally. Maradona stares at me…that is his problem.”
Do you have a role model that you look up to?
“I have never really watched a lot of football. In any case my idol has always been Batistuta, then when i was at Barcelona I really liked Eto’o.”
You are from Rosario, and so is Lionel Messi.
“Leo was curious by the fact that he found a small boy from Rosario at Barcelona, this is why we started talking. Then we both support Newell’s Old Boys.”
Speaking of Barcelona, what did not work out for you there?
“The type of football they play, with tiny players, was not for me. I remember that Ibrahimovic also had a bad experience there. I immediately realized that with my characteristics I would not have found any space to play with the first team. The Sampdoria arrived offering the chance to play in a league that I felt suited me much more.”
Carlos Tevez says that playing in the Serie A is the strikers University.
“He is right, whoever scores here, scores everywhere.”
Can you line up the big teams of the league?
“With respect to the past few years, we are the newcomers up there, Inter are intruding in a way [laughs]. Juventus, Napoli and Roma have dominated the league these past few years, especially Juventus who have won 6 straight titles. We are feeling well in the group, we are building something important, we are close to those levels and need to continue down this road, without making any proclamations but meanwhile remaining convinced that we have undertaken the right path.”