Ex Barcelona youth product Mauro Icardi returns to Camp Nou with Inter Milan a forgotten man


Mauro Icardi’s heroics and Gianluigi Donnarumma’s positioning are the main target of the FC crew’s consideration after Inter bested Milan within the Milan derby.

Barcelona tend to lengthy for gamers who’ve left. Many want to see Hector Bellerin, Alejandro Grimaldo and Thiago Alcantara return to the membership — or at the very least want that they by no means left within the first place. Gerard Pique, Cesc Fabregas and Jordi Alba all did come again. To hammer residence the purpose, there’s already angst about how the membership may have prevented children Sergio Gomez, Jordi Mboula and Eric Garcia from leaving and what they could go onto obtain.

But there’s one participant whose identify not often attracts connections with Barcelona: Mauro Icardi.

The Argentina striker turned one of the best paid 14-year-old in Spain when he agreed to signal for Barca a decade in the past, with a number of sponsorship offers besides. The entire nation’s greatest golf equipment wished him on the time — Barca, Actual Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Sevilla — as did different groups round Europe, together with Liverpool and Arsenal.

“However [Icardi] solely wished Barca,” Abian Morano Santana, the agent who found Icardi in Gran Canaria, tells ESPN FC. “It was his resolution. They had been the membership he had all the time cherished.”

It was Icardi’s dream to play at Camp Nou. On Wednesday, on the age of 25, he’ll lastly achieve this, albeit within the black and blue of Inter Milan on the away aspect in a Champions League fixture. Italy, not Catalonia, is the place he is made his identify.

After swapping Rosario, the birthplace he shares with Lionel Messi, for the Canaries as a nine-year-old, Icardi was ultimately signed by Morano, who did not want a re-assessment to understand the potential he had.

“I discovered him in Las Palmas,” Morano explains. “I noticed him when he was 12 [playing for Union Deportiva Vecindario] towards Paris Saint-Germain. He was already spectacular in a bodily sense. I fell in love there after which and introduced myself to his household.

“By the point he was 13, we had 9 official gives. When he ultimately joined Barca, he was considered one of finest paid gamers of their complete academy. In his first two seasons he was the highest scorer, he scored 19 in his first yr and 17 in his second. However by December [of his third season], we might left.”

Icardi excelled as the focus of the Beneath-17 crew coached by former Barca defender Sergi Barjuan, who’s now accountable for Chinese language membership Zhejiang Greentown.

“I spent one season with him,” Barjuan tells ESPN FC. “He was tall, robust… an incredible objective scorer. On a technical stage, when it comes to Barcelona, to be trustworthy he was satisfactory. He was a child from the Canaries. Individuals from there usually want a push in the fitting route as a result of they have an inclination to loosen up rapidly. However we had friendship and shared an understanding of soccer.”

Morano and Barjuan’s recollections of Icardi’s time in Barcelona increase a few questions: Why did he go away for Sampdoria if issues had been going so effectively? And why did Barca not combat to maintain such a clearly proficient teenager?

Mauro Icardi has blossomed into one of the world's best strikers at Inter Milan but little is said about his time at Barcelona.
Mauro Icardi has blossomed into one of many world’s finest strikers at Inter Milan however little is alleged about his time at Barcelona.

“He left as a result of he wished to develop,” Barjuan says. “There was an opportunity to do this at Barcelona however he noticed that as the kind of striker he was it might be tough. So he took the choice [to move to Sampdoria]. It is confirmed to be a profitable transfer.”

Was it as a result of he did not match Barca’s fashion? Barjuan thinks for a second: “It was not a query of getting Barca DNA or not. I feel he has numerous high quality. However it was about seeing his future clearly, one thing which he wasn’t in a position to do at Barcelona, the place it was tough.”

That is the place Morano and Barjuan’s views barely differ.

“He had critical issues [at Barca]: the No.9 was not an vital participant,” Morano explains. “Messi was already within the first crew, the place Pep Guardiola had simply taken over. The position of the centre-forward modified.

“There wasn’t area for Mauro. Take a look at [David] Villa, Zlatan [Ibrahimovic]… even [Thierry] Henry. They had been all performed out of place. I took the choice to say to Mauro: ‘It’s important to go away Barcelona.’ He had confidence in me. His dad and mom did, too.

“Even then, he’d been the highest scorer in each class. The third yr, although, it turned a lot clearer {that a} change was wanted. Oscar Garcia was coach and he began enjoying a false 9, utilizing Rafinha there. That is once I took the choice to go to the membership to ask to depart.”

Icardi moved to Sampdoria, who made one of the best supply for rapid progress, after which on to Inter, the place his goalscoring feats noticed him develop into the youngest Capocannoniere since Paolo Rossi in 1978 when he was Serie A’s high scorer with 22 targets in 2015. Nevertheless, there has virtually been as a lot highlight on him off the pitch as there has on it at instances.

An notorious love triangle with former teammate Maxi Lopez and Icardi’s now spouse Wanda Nera have adopted him all through his profession. Lopez and Wanda’s marriage ended when it was uncovered that she was in a relationship with Icardi. The 2 gamers each performed for Sampdoria on the time. Some even counsel Messi’s friendship with Lopez, a former Barca striker himself, has performed a component in Icardi’s exclusion from the Argentine nationwide crew lately.

A controversial ebook revealed in 2016 additionally drew anger from Inter’s supporters due to feedback he made concerning the membership’s ultras. Might his character have performed a component in Barca letting him go away?

“He might be somewhat rebellious,” Morano concedes. “He did not settle for that he needed to be taught Catalan, for instance. He had some issues with that. There have been additionally some minor incidents with some teammates on the [La Masia] residency. However by his remaining yr he was residing in a flat with Sergi Roberto, Sergi Gomez and Marc Muniesa, not within the residency.”

On Wednesday, Icardi faces former flatmate Roberto as considered one of Europe’s finest strikers. His successful objective in Sunday’s Milan derby was his 113th in lower than 200 appearances for Inter. He is usually linked with a transfer away from the San Siro, but unusually for a former youth participant, by no means with a return to Barca — who’re even searching for Luis Suarez’s inheritor.

“He won’t ever return to Barcelona — that is my private opinion,” says Morano. Not even when Barca start to play with a extra out-and-out No.9 ? “It might nonetheless be tough,” he provides.

Morano stopped working with Icardi three years in the past when he was changed by the participant’s associate, Wanda. The 2 have not been involved since however the agent remains to be conscious of the extent of the curiosity from Madrid, Barca’s Clasico rivals, down the years.

“Actual Madrid have all the time had an curiosity in Mauro,” he says. “However they won’t negotiate with Wanda. He may win the [European] Golden Shoe someplace like [Madrid]. However I am satisfied she needs him to remain at Inter, she needs him to have a profile just like [Javier] Zanetti, to remain the place he’s as captain.”

A superb efficiency at Camp Nou would assist construct his Inter legacy somewhat bit extra. And, who is aware of, possibly it may lead Barca to lastly lengthy for him again.

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