What does the future hold for Mauro Icardi’s career?

Photo Credit: AP

The future could be a little uncertain for PSG striker Mauri Icardi after failing to fire in front of the goal for the Parisian giants last term. The Argentine had a season of setbacks for the Ligue 1 side. 2021/22 proved to be Icardi’s least productive output in front of goal since making his debut for Sampdoria back in 2012.

The 29-year-old therefore could prove to be a bargain signing for any team that is willing to take a chance on him. The former Inter Milan captain would probably have a few interested clubs coming in for him this summer. What lies ahead for Mauro Icardi’s career?

Would Icardi want a move?

In early June 2022 Mauro Icardi said that any reports that he was leaving PSG were just nonsense rumours. In a bit of a social media rant, Icardi basically stated that he was staying at PSG, making himself available to the club for the future.

But things may not be as simple as that. Things could be out of his hands if the Ligue 1 champions actively look to offload him. If the right deal came the club’s way, then it would offer a chance for the player to revive his career elsewhere.

Is history repeating itself?

During his time at Inter Milan, Icardi stated that he was not going to leave the Italian club. That he was happy where he was. At the time, Icardi was in the prime of his career when the goals were flowing for him in Serie A.

But then a swathe of controversy swept over Icardi’s relationship with the San Siro club and a section of their fans. Icardi’s autobiography turned a section of Inter’s Ultras against him, the supporters calling for him to go. It was a relationship between player and supporters that was never healed.

Icardi was also stripped of the club captaincy in early 2019. That was a punishment after he had returned late from a winter break. Reports then suggested that Icardi was trying to force the club’s hand, by demanding that he would not play for them again unless he got the club captaincy back.

Already out of favour at the club, that further drove a wedge between the relationship. Later that same year Icardi was moved to PSG on loan. Now after saying he’s not leaving PSG, is Icardi heading out of the door?

A bright start in the City of Lights turns sour

Mauro Icardi initially moved to PSG in 2019 on a loan deal ahead of a permanent move to Paris. PSG paid an initial transfer fee of £51 million for the services of Icardi.

It was a bright start to life in Paris that the Argentine made as well. He netted 20 goals in his 34 appearances for his new club. But since then it has been largely downhill for Icardi’s playing time and therefore goal output, at the club.

Limited playing time saw him score only 13 goals in his second season, before dropping to five last term. As a striker that’s a tough position to be in, when you are not given the chances.

Problems mount at PSG for Icardi

There were injury problems for the Argentine last season, making only 10 Ligue 1 starts under head coach Mauricio Pochettino. Across 30 appearances in all competitions for PSG last term, Icardi hit the back of the net only five times.

Getting an increase in playing time for the forthcoming season may not be a particularly easy thing for the forward to secure either. Icardi generally plays second fiddle to the enviable front line that PSG have at their disposal.

With a preference for the trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, it is hard to see which out of those, Icardi would dislodge. There doesn’t immediately appear to be a place for Icardi in PSG’s regular starting line up.

Mbappe’s U-turn is not Icardi friendly

Most people would have expected to see a big gap opening up for Icardi this summer. There was a strong hint that PSG’s impressive attacking unit was going to be broken up this summer. The world’s most expensive player Kylian Mbappe appeared set on a move to reigning UEFA Champions League title holders Real Madrid.

But the French World Cup winner made a big 180 decision out of the blue. Mbappe put pen to paper at PSG keeping him there for another few years. While that’s big news for PSG and their fans, it’s not something that has been in favour of Icardi.

If rumours that Mbappe has demanded more control at the club are to be believed, then it could spell even worse news for Icardi. It’s been rumoured that Mbappe wants a big  clear-out from the club, including players and staff. Mbappe himself has denied those rumours however, calling them “fake” on social media.

Pochettino factor

Another of the variables ahead of the new season for Icardi is that there could be a change of a head coach at the club. He was pushed further and further to the sidelines by incumbent Mauricio Pochettino, the recent rumours in sports news is that the club are letting Pochettino go.

Failure once again to bring home the UEFA Champions League would be the likely factor for that. Last season, the French giants made a disappointing exit from the UEFA Champions League, bowing out against Manchester City.

If Pochettino goes, there’s still no guarantee that a new head coach would favour Icardi. At times last season, Lionel Messi wasn’t playing at his best and still Icardi couldn’t get a game ahead of him. Alternatively, if Pochettino were to stay, Icardi’s name wouldn’t likely to be one of the first on the team sheet.

Proven goalscorer could have appeal

There could be another big motivating factor elsewhere for Icardi to make a fresh start. A potential international call up could fuel him to get productive playing time under his belt. This is a FIFA World Cup year and a positive domestic season could put him on the radar for a spot in Argentina’s squad.

Icardi hasn’t been involved on the international scene for some time. He was left out of the Argentina 2018 World Cup squad, and from the 2019 Copa America squad as well. That was despite his goalscoring exploits at club level. He’s now been in the international wildness since 2018. A strong first half of a new season at PSG or elsewhere, could at least put him back on the map.

Despite his career at the top of the game, the forward has only made eight appearances for Argentina, scoring once. It has also been suggested that Icardi has a sour relationship with compatriot and current PSG teammate Lionel Messi. Icardi is married to Argentine actress and model Wanda Nara, who was formerly married to Maxi Lopez. Lopez is a close friend of Messi. So theories are out there, that Messi has had a hand in Icardi’s lack of international call-ups.

Icardi with plenty to offer

Icardi is a proven goalscorer with over 200 career goals and a few years left on the clock. Given the drop in output from him over the last couple of seasons, PSG couldn’t really expect anything like the £51 million back that they paid for him.

The current value of the centre forward is a reported £20 million, which would be a tempting valuation for some clubs. A sale would benefit PSG of course, offloading a player that is under contract with them until the summer of 2024.

A road back to Italy’s Serie A?

If Icardi moves on this summer, where are likely destinations for the Argentine? Given that any club moving for him would  be taking a risk on a player whose numbers are on the decline, his chances of landing a spot at another Champions League contender would be slim. Slim, but not out of the question.

One of the first destinations to come to mind would be a return to Italy where he made his name. Juventus would be a potential club for him there. The Turin giants only finished in fourth place last season in the top flight. Icardi could bolster their front line as well as getting Champions League football next term.

There is also his former club Sampdoria which would at least offer the Argentine familiar surroundings. There wouldn’t be the high pressure on him with a move there. Sampdoria finished just three points above the drop zone last term in Serie A.

Icardi spent one full season with Sampdoria, scoring 10 goals in 31 league appearances, before making his move to Inter Milan in 2013.

Premier League clubs

The English Premier League could be the prime destination for Mauri Icardi next season if he does exit PSG. Would it be difficult for him to attract appeal from any of the four teams that are going to the Champions League 2022/23 though?

Manchester City and Liverpool wouldn’t have any need for him, leaving Chelsea and Tottenham. The latter may represent the biggest opening there, with Tottenham potential looking for extra firepower as support for Harry Kane. Spurs have Champions League football next term, placing extra demands on Antonio Conte’s squad.

Wolves have been linked with a move for him. While the Midlands club were a good strong defensive output last term, they were lacking in the goalscoring department. Only the bottom three in last season’s Premier League scored fewer goals than Wolves managed.

Arsenal could be another potential English top-flight destination for the player. There was a link between player and club in a previous January transfer window, but that never happened.

The other club that Icardi could really have appeal for is Newcastle United. One of the sleeping giants of English football, Newcastle would probably be able to give him the wages that he would demand and the playing time.

The Magpies, who have money after a club takeover, were previously linked with an audacious and speculative bid for Neymar. A play for Mauro Icardi would be more within the realm of realism.