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From Barca prodigy to badboy… Arsenal fans should be wary of this 16-goal target

At the ripe old age of 23, it’s hard to believe any player has packed as much into their career already as Arsenal transfer target Mauro Icardi. Serie A hotshot, captain of a major team at a young age, an affair with a team-mate wife who then became his and transfer speculation left, right and centre.

Makes Mario Balotelli seem pretty standard eh? All drama aside, there’s a simple reason why you’ll keep hearing Icardi’s name until the window shuts: Goals. The hottest commodities in football are goal-scorers and if they carry a name and can sell shirts – that’s the icing on the cake really.

Originally in the La Masia Academy at Barcelona, the Argentine forward could make the breakthrough at the Camp Nou and subsequently moved to Sampdoria on loan. This is where Icardi began to make his name, as a record of 11 goals in 33 games for Sampdoria drew the attention of bigger clubs.

A move to the San Siro followed for what seems a miserly €11.7 Million and in the last two years, his career has really taken off. In 2014/15, the striker recorded a return of 27 goals and 9 assists in 48 games and followed that up last season with 16 goals and 4 assists in 34 games.

The Rosario-born forward was even rewarded with the captaincy of Inter in recognition for his contribution, so it seems a certainty that Premier League clubs would go all out for the player, right?

Mauro Icardi

It’s off the field where the questions about Icardi begin to arise. Whilst at Sampdoria, the striker began an affair with the wife of team-mate and fellow Argentine Maxi Lopez, news which gripped all of Serie A when it broke.

Wanda Nara, who has three children with Lopez, is an Argentine media personality and there have been concerns about her impact on his career as the squeaky clean image has been replaced with a bad-boy personality, tattoos galore. The most notable of these is a large piece on his right-arm of the three children that Nara and Lopez share. Mauro obviously enjoys the quiet life then.

The player has a contract with Inter Milan until 2019 and with three years remaining, it’s crunch time from a contract perspective. Inter and Icardi don’t seem on the same page in this regard though.

Nara, who also acts as Icardi’s agent, revealed in early July that “From what I can see, Inter have put Icardi up for sale. There are many clubs interested. We will evaluate the situation with all due respect for everyone. Mauro would be very sad to leave Inter, but we’ve understood the club’s economic situation and evidently they cannot hold Icardi back”.

So it seems pretty straightforward what’s going to happen, but President Erick Thorir is singing a different tune. “We won’t sell Icardi. We received many offers, even from Napoli, but we won’t sell him. One year ago, we extended his contract; we are like a family, if there are some problems, we can always talk. He’s our captain and an important player, we are happy with him.” Mmm….

Money talks in football and it’s a win-win for Icardi. He either gets a big-money move to another club, signs an extension on a higher salary or runs his contract down to leave on a free.

You can’t see Inter allowing the latter to happen as if the economic issues are true, it doesn’t make any financial sense. As long as the window is open and no new contract is signed, the links won’t go away.

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Article title: From Barca prodigy to badboy… Arsenal fans should be wary of this 16-goal target

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