Mauro Icardi Omitted From Inter’s Matchday Squad to Face Rapid Wien After Losing Captaincy

?Inter have omitted Mauro Icardi from their matchday squad to face Rapid Wien in the Europa League on Thursday, after stripping the Argentine forward of the captain’s armband.

The Serie A giants ?confirmed that Samir Handanovic will lead the team on the pitch going forward, amid rumours that talks over a new contract for Icardi have completely broken down.


?Inter confirmed their matchday squad for Thursday’s match on ?Twitter, revealing that ?Icardi will play no part in the important match.

Key players such as ?Ivan Perisic and Stefan De Vrij will join Handanovic on the field against Rapid Wien, with Lautaro Martinez likely to replace Icardi in attack.

Icardi’s omission from such an important fixture will certainly prompt rumours of an imminent departure from the club. The likes of ?Chelsea, ?Real Madrid and ?Juventus have all been heavily linked with a move for Icardi, but any list of potential suitors for the forward would likely be extensive if he was made available.

Mauro Icardi

Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea were regularly linked with the 25-year-old during the January transfer window, but instead opted to sign ?Gonzalo Higuain from Juventus. However, should Icardi be made available for transfer, the Blues could reignite their interest to help bolster their options in attack.

Icardi’s wife and agent, Wanda Nara, has forged a reputation as a tough negotiator, regularly speaking to the media about her client’s contract situation. He remains under contract at the San Siro until 2021, but talks of a potential renewal for Icardi have been ongoing for months.

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There is reportedly a release clause in his contract which would allow Icardi to leave the club for a fee of €110m (£96m), and it is thought that Inter are keen to increase that clause in an attempt to keep rival clubs away from their star striker.

However, recent developments will certainly fuel talk of a potential transfer for Icardi, who has racked up a stunning 122 goals in 2010 games for Inter. World-class strikers are a valuable commodity, and Inter could be set for a bidding war once the summer transfer window opens.

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Mauro Icardi Stripped of Inter Captaincy as Relationship With Club Reaches New Low

?Inter have confirmed that goalkeeper Samir Handanovic will replace Mauro Icardi as the club’s captain going forward, amid rumours that Icardi is unhappy at the club.

The striker has captained Inter since the start of the 2015/16 season, but has found himself heavily linked with a potential departure from the club amid rumours of a breakdown in contract talks.


?Inter confirmed the news on ?Twitter, simply stating: “The Club can confirm that Samir Handanovic is the new Inter captain.”

Despite remaining under contract at the club until 2021, ?Icardi’s future has been the subject of a huge amount of speculation this season – with his wife and agent Wanda Nara notoriously unpredictable in her dealings with the club. Reports have suggested that the 25-year-old has been discussing a new contract with the club for months, yet no renewal has materialised as of yet.

?Chelsea were heavily linked with a move for Icardi, but instead opted to sign ?Gonzalo Higuain from ?Juventus. ?Real Madrid are also regularly touted as potential suitors for the Argentine, and this latest development will only fuel the talk of an imminent departure from the San Siro.

Mauro Emanuel Icardi

Despite netting nine goals in the first 13 ?Serie A matches of the season, Icardi is goalless in the last seven games, which is his longest drought since joining the club, and Inter fear that this contract stand-off is beginning to impact his performances on the pitch.

Speaking to DAZN following Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Parma, manager Luciano Spalletti called for an end to the uncertainty surrounding Icardi. He is quoted by ?Football Italia as saying: “I have not created any problems for Icardi. Issues need to be clarified, because when you leave things half-cocked, they become open to interpretation.

“People have said a few too many things, now there is time to sit down and talk about something we’ve avoided and dragged along with us for months.”

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He then elaborated on this point in his press conference, and is quoted by Football Italia as saying: “Mauro is evidently seeing his performance affected by some situations that have been going on recently. He needs to free himself from the talk that is around him.

“The directors agreed to start talking about the contract, so now they need to go there and conclude it.”

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10 Youngest Players to Score in the Champions League

Scoring is one of the best feelings in the world, but grabbing a goal in the Champions League is a feeling like no other.

And for young players, scoring in the Champions League can be the beginning of something magical – as they demonstrate to the world that they are capable of mixing it with the very best that European football has to offer.

We’ve seen plenty of young blossoming talent bursting on to the biggest stage in European competition with a bang – so here, we look at the 10 youngest players to have ever found the back of the net in the Champions League..

10. Mariyan Ognyanov: 18 years & 59 days

Manuel Konrad,Mariyan Ognyanov,Velin Damyanov

Levski Sofia (vs Chelsea) 2006/07 season.

Just two months after he celebrated his 18th birthday, Ognyanov found himself scoring Levski’s first ever goal in the Champions League. 

The goal only served as a consolation as Levski lost the game 3-1, but it was a moment that Ognyanov will never forget. To date, he has failed to score again in the Champions League – and Levski have yet to qualify for the competition again.

9. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 18 years & 44 days

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Arsenal (vs Olympiakos) 2011/12 season.

With this goal, Oxlade-Chamberlain become the youngest English goalscorer in the Champions League, getting his goal just eight minutes into his debut.

He had only joined the Gunners a month previously from Southampton, and enjoyed a run to the last 16 of the competition – with Milan ultimately triumphing over Arsene Wenger’s side.

8. Karim Benzema: 17 years & 355 days

Lyon's French forward Karim Benzema (L)

Lyon (vs Rosenborg) 2005/06 season.

Karim Benzema grabbed his first professional goal in Lyon’s 2-1 victory over Rosenborg, introducing himself into the first team picture in the best way possible.

The Ligue 1 heavyweights were eventually knocked out in the quarter-finals by Italian giants AC Milan – but not before Benzema had demonstrated that he would be more than capable of making it on the world’s stage.

7. Aaron Ramsey: 17 years & 299 days

Arsenal's Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey

Arsenal (vs Fenerbahce) 2008/09 season.

Aaron Ramsey’s goal against Fenerbahce ensured that he became only the second player born in the 1990s to score in the Champions League – sealing a comprehensive 5-2 win for the Gunners. 

Arsenal would make it all the way to the semi-finals, were they were knocked out by arch rivals Manchester United 4-1 on aggregate.

6. Breel Embolo: 17 years & 263 days

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Basel (vs Ludogorets) 2014/15 season.

The Swiss striker announced his name to the world aged just 16 when he scored four minutes into his Basel debut. It wouldn’t take long for Embolo to then score at Champions League level, in a season where he would score an impressive 17 times.

Basel were eliminated in the round of 16 by FC Porto, with their 4-0 second leg defeat ensuring they lost convincingly on aggregate.

5. Martin Klein: 17 years & 240 days

Czech AC Sparta Prague goalkeeper Petr C

Sparta Prague (vs Panathinakos) 2001/02 season.

Martin Klein is not a name that will be familiar to many, but he does currently stand as the fifth youngest goalscorer in Champions League history.

The teenager netted a late goal in Sparta’s 2-1 loss – though it would count for very little in the long run as they failed to progress from a group that included eventual winners Real Madrid.

4. Cesc Fabregas: 17 years, 218 days

Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas (Front) celebrat

Arsenal (vs Rosenborg) 2004/05 season.

Cesc Fabregas’ introduction on to the world’s stage came in a Highbury demolition job – with Norwegian champions Rosenborg the unfortunate victims.

The Spaniard’s goal came in a 5-1 win and was the most moment of significance in what would turn out to be an illustrious European career for Fabregas. Bayern Munich would knock Arsenal out of the competition before they could really get going though, claiming a narrow 3-2 aggregate win.

3. Bojan Krkic: 17 years & 217 days

Bojan Krkic

Barcelona (vs Schalke) 2007/08 season.

Bojan began his career with a bang, becoming the first player born in the 1990s to score a Champions League goal. 

He netted the only goal in a quarter-final first leg tie away at Schalke, breaking Lionel Messi’s record of being the youngest player to represent Barça. The Catalan giants reached the semi-finals, before narrowly losing to eventual winners Manchester United.

2. Mateo Kovacic: 17 years & 215 days

Mateo Kovacic

Dinamo Zagreb (vs Lyon), 2011/12 season.

Mateo Kovacic put his name up in lights after surprisingly putting Dinamo 1-0 up against Ligue 1 favourites Lyon – though his side would eventually go to concede seven!

The Croatian went onto become one of Zagreb’s key players, earning the captaincy before moving on to Inter in 2013. His goal in the 2011/12 campaign meant very little in the end – with Zagreb ending that season’s competition with six defeats out of six.

1. Peter Ofori-Quaye: 17 years & 195 days

Peter Oforiquaye

Olympiacos (vs Rosenborg) 1997/98 season.

Here we have it, the youngest goal scorer in Champions League history – Ghanaian striker Peter Ofori-Quaye.

Coming off the bench, he produced a superb turn and neat finish to become a history maker – though his goal unfortunately came amidst a Rosenborg spanking. He would go on to score three further Champions League goals in his career, but his career would drift off into obscurity after being released by Olympiacos in 2003.

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Ivan Perisic ‘Wants to Join Tottenham’ After Missing Out on January Move to Arsenal

?Tottenham are now favourites to sign Ivan Perisic from Inter after a January move to Arsenal fell through, according to reports from Italy.

Perisic handed in a transfer request during the last week of the transfer window, with Arsenal reportedly keen to sign him on loan until the end of the season before making the move permanent next summer.

That move failed to materialise, and it was reported that Perisic would actually prefer to join ?Tottenham; however, Mauricio Pochettino did not make an approach for the Croatian winger.

Tottenham Hotspur v FC Internazionale - UEFA Champions League Group B

Tuttosport (via ?Sport Witness) reports that Perisic is still determined to play in the Premier League and his interest may at last be reciprocated by Tottenham, who are preparing for next season.

The Italian outlet claims that Perisic is now ‘betrothed’ to Spurs ahead of a summer wedding, and could become the first new signing to join Mauricio Pochettino’s squad in 18 months.

It is likely that the transfer would be a cash-plus-players deal, with Moussa Sissoko and ?Serge Aurier named as possibilities who could be used in part exchange.

Signing a 30-year-old player who would command a high salary doesn’t sound like a typical move for Pochettino, who has built his team around a young core of attacking players, but Tuttosport is adamant that Perisic will be a Tottenham player next season.

?Arsenal are highly unlikely to re-enter the race for Perisic after ?Inter manager Luciano Spalletti slammed the Gunners for misleading Perisic with talk of a bid that never materialised.

“He [Perisic] realised it was not a true offer and that he’d been conned,” said Spalletti.

Perisic was also linked with ?Manchester United last summer, though these rumours have not resurfaced since Jose Mourinho left Old Trafford.

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Rapid Wien vs Inter Preview: Where to Watch, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News

?Inter get their Europa League campaign underway on Thursday night when they face Rapid Wien in the round of 32.

After agonisingly missing out on the last 16 of the Champions League, Luciano Spalletti’s men will test their resolve in the second tier of European football as they look to notch their fourth title in the competition.

Their opponents, meanwhile, muddled through Group G to finish second and secure passage to the round of 32, finishing with ten points from the 18 available.

Check out 90min’s preview of Thursday’s game below.


Where to Watch

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?When Is Kick Off? ?Thursday 14 February
?What Time Is Kick Off? ?17:55 (GMT)
?Where Is it Played? ?Allianz Stadion
?TV Channel/Live Stream? ?BT Sport
?Referee? ?N/A

?Team News

?The Austrian outfit will be without long-term absentee Tamas Szanto, who is yet to appear this term on account of the cartilage damage he sustained last year. 

They will also be without midfielder Dejan Ljubicic, who picked up a red card in their last competitive game in back December. 

For Inter, there is one change in their European squad list as Southampton loanee Cedric has replaced Sime Vrsaljko after the World Cup finalist picked up a season-ending knee injury last month. 



Predicted Lineups 
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?Rapid Wien ?Strebinger; Muldur, Dibon, Barac, Potzmann; Schwab, Martic; Murg, Knasmullner, Schobesberger; Alar
?Inter ?Handanovic; Cedric, Skriniar, de Vrij, Asamoah; Vecino, Brozovic; Mario, Nainggolan, Perisic; Icardi

Head to Head Record

Honours are even in the two-game series between these sides, with both meetings coming in the UEFA Cup where they played out two-legged ties. 

Inter are yet to beat their Austrian counterparts away from home, whilst the Italian giants have won one and drawn one at San Siro.

Luciano Spalletti


Recent Form

Rapid Wien have struggled domestically this term, having won just five of their 18 outings in the Austrian Bundesliga, which sees them reside in eighth place. Thursday’s tie will be their first competitive fixture of 2019, with the Austrian club enjoying a prolonged winter break.

Their struggles in the Europa League have been predominantly in front of goal, as only Slavia Prague scored fewer in the group stage out of all 24 qualified sides.

?Inter also go into this game out of form, having won just one of their last five domestic outings. They too have struggled to score goals in recent weeks and Spalletti will be desperate to get his strikers firing again on Thursday night.


Here’s how each team has performed in their last five fixtures:

?Rapid Wien ?Inter
Austria Wien 6-1 Rapid Wien (16/12) ?Parma 0-1 Inter (9/2)
Rapid Wien 1-0 Rangers (13/12) ?Inter 0-1 Bologna (3/2)
Rapid Wien 0-0 Sturm Graz (9/12) ?Inter 1-1 Lazio (31/1)
FC Wacker Innsbruck 0-1 Rapid Wien (2/12) ?Torino 1-0 Inter (27/1)
Spartak Moscow 1-2 Rapid Wien (29/11) ?Inter 0-0 Sassuolo (19/1)

Prediction

Inter will be forced to lick their Champions League wounds and recover quickly to have a decent stab at the Europa League this year. Though their goalscoring issues remain clear for all to see, with ?Mauro Icardi on their books the drought is never likely to last too long.

Mauro Icardi

Though they are yet to lose on home soil in this year’s competition, Rapid Wien will have a tough task containing European royalty in Inter, who will take a slender lead back to San Siro.

Prediction: Rapid Wien 1-2 Inter

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