Inter replace Icardi with Handanovic as captain

Inter chief executive Giuseppe Marotta told Icardi of the decision

Inter have left Mauro Icardi out of their squad for Thursday's Europa League clash with Rapid Vienna after stripping him of the captaincy earlier on Wednesday.

Inter announced yesterday that Samir Handanovic would replace Icardi as captain with immediate effect after manager Luciano Spalletti became concerned that the Argentine's protracted contract negotiations were a distraction.

"The decision to remove the captain's armband from Icardi was hard and painful, because we all know what he is worth to the team", Spalletti told reporters at his pre-match press conference.

Icardi has a contract with the Nerazzurri until 2021 but continues to be linked with a move away, with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester United all having been credited with an interest.

"He [Icardi] was called up but didn't want to travel with the rest of the squad to Vienna". "It is a very hard decision to take, but it is one that everybody within the club shared, and one which was taken exclusively for the good of Inter".

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"The things going on around Icardi have disturbed us, both him and the team which he used to captain".

"There are clearly things going on around Icardi which need to be sorted out", Spalletti said.

"I would like Mauro to be more protected by the team".

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. The 25-year-old has scored 119 goals for the Nerrazzuri.

"There are some very important clubs interested in signing him".

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