ROME – Inter Milan stripped on Wednesday Argentina striker Mauro Icardi of the captain’s armband, which has now been given to Slovenia goalkeeper Samir Handanovic.
Icardi, whose contract expires in 2021, has been in tough negotiations over his contract extension that involved his wife and agent, Wanda Nara.
“The club communicates that the new team captain is Samir Handanovic,” the Serie A team posted to its official Twitter account, without providing further details.
The 25-year-old Icardi, who has reportedly been linked with a move to Chelsea, was cited by local media as blaming the Italian side for the current situation, claiming that he had not received a satisfactory renewal offer.
Icardi’s wife, who usually takes part in a Mediaset sports program, said on Sunday: “I wish Mauro was more protected by the team. We do not understand if these bad things come from the inside or the outside.”
She suggested that Inter has been the main priority for Icardi, who made his debut as a professional player in Sampdoria’s 1-1 draw against Roma on Sept. 26, 2012.
The tension between Icardi and the club official over the striker’s contract renewal was so high that even coach Luciano Spalletti commented on it recently.
Spalletti said that hopefully, the situation would come to an end as soon as possible, as it affected not only the player, but also the whole team.
Icardi has not been experiencing the best moment of his career, as he has not found the back of the net in the Serie A since scoring the lone goal in Inter’s 1-0 win over Udinese on Dec. 15, although he scored twice in the Italian Cup against Benevento and Lazio.
The Argentine player has thus been stripped of the captaincy – a position he had been occupying since the beginning of the 2015-16 season – mere hours before taking on Rapid Vienna in the first leg of the Europa League round of 32 on Thursday.
Shortly after the announcement, Icardi, who joined Inter on July 9, 2013 from Sampdoria for a reported $16.71-million transfer fee, was dropped out of the squad for the away game.
Inter currently holds the third spot in the Serie A table with 43 points after 23 matches, 20 points adrift of leader Juventus.