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Icardi in action for Sampdoria

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On the 19th February 1993, within the small town of Rosario (Santa Fe Province, Argentina), young Mauro was born. He moved to Spain at just 6 years old, where he started his career playing for Vecindario scoring over 500 goals in the Youth categories. In 2008, several big clubs disputed over the signature of Icardi, including the likes of  Barcelona, Real Madrid, Valencia, Sevilla, Espanyol, Deportivo La Coruña, Arsenal and Liverpool. Ultimately, it was the Catalan giants who won the race – signing him until 2013. Starting at the u17’s level at the beginning of the 2008/09 season, he was soon promoted to the u19’s in the following season. Another production of the famous ‘La Masia’ academy – Barcelona then loaned him out to the Serie A, where he would continue his development at Sampdoria. After a successful spell, scoring 13 in 19, Sampdoria utilised the option to sign him in July 2011, for €400,000 signing a three-year deal.

Icardi Barca

Icardi during his time at La Masia [Photo: clasicoo.com]

Performing on the International stage for the senior Argentinian team would categorise into the ‘walk before you can run’ phrase given the strikers Argentina already have at their disposal, but Mauro isn’t shy of performing for the u20’s netting 3 times in just 5 appearances. It’s still unclear as to whether Icardi will be representing Argentina or Italy on the International stage, even more so as he has a Italian passport, and Mauro has made no indication as to where he’ll be playing in the long term. La Gazzetta dello Sport’s Luigi Garlando said “He wants Argentina” after Italian coach Prandelli had revealed he was monitoring Icardi. “He told us otherwise,” Prandelli insisted. “We’ve talked to him about it. There was an agreement. Then something happened.” That something, was the rejection of a Italy u19’s call up for the match against Hungary.

When Icardi first went to Barcelona, he was soon talking to Lionel Messi for whom Icardi has high respect and in fact, was one of the main reasons he left. Reminiscent of Cesc Fabregas leaving in order to further his development with no chance of knocking Xavi/Iniesta from the starting XI, Icardi knew he wasn’t going to dislodge one of the best players to ever exist from his spot. Consequently, he left in order to further his development. However, referring back to the National Team debate, Icardi is similar to Lionel in terms of experiencing most of his life away from his homeland but refusing to diminish the connection he has and seeks to retain with his roots. It’s an honour to represent your homeland, and he cares greatly about wearing the colours of his country. The only comments Mauro has made on the situation included: “For now, I’m Argentine. But you never know”.

It remains to be seen where his International future will lie, but both Nations are bound to want such a talent within their team. Both nations offer bags of experience and an array of talent. The likes of Antonio Di Natale for Italy can guide him, or again who better to gain advice from than the Best Player in the World – Lionel Messi.

Mauro Icardi featured in our list of 100 Best Young Players to Watch-out for in 2014. He was at #20 in our list of forwards / wingers. See the entire list here. The Argentine was voted in 3rd place in the Serie A Youngster of the Season award by Outside of the Boot’s readers at the 2014-15 End of Season Awards.

Style, Strengths and Weaknesses

The Serie ‘A’ is full of young, clinical, and potent Strikers. For example, the likes of Stephan El Shaarawy, Luis Muriel, Erik Lamela, Stevan Jovetic, Mario Ballotelli and of course, Mauro Icardi. Icardi has been a revelation for Sampdoria this season, netting 9 times in 22 appearances. A lot of which have come in crucial games, including a surprise win against the Bianconeri earlier this year seeing him score 2 goals after being 1-0 down.

He’s a potent  finisher, and clinical in front of goal. Standing at around 6ft, he’s not the quickest of Strikers compared to others but he’s certainly an excellent executioner. He provides just enough pace and creativity to force a defender into making a challenge, in which he’d probably fail to retrieve the ball (cleanly). To say he’s a counter attacking threat would be an understatement, and has a certain aspect of exciting flair about him, making Mauro a handful for any defender.

His intuition, and insight for goal is remarkable for that of a 20 year old. He’s got a Forward’s mind. For example, he always has the eye for goal and is always looking to improve his game. Some 20 year old’s find themselves struggling with confidence at such a young age, but I haven’t noticed any real signs to say he’s short of self motivation. He’s dedicated, and like most South American players, he’s always looking to better his performances.

The 2012/2013 season has seen Mauro Icardi make 22 appearances, 6 of which being substituted on, scoring an impressive 9 goals. Mauro has made 1 assist, whilst taking a total of 35 shots. 18 shots have been on target and he has only picked up 2 yellow cards. His shot accuracy is at a underwhelming 59% for which will come with experience. Despite having only 1 assist, he has made a total of 11 chances.

Mauro’s Sampdoria teammate, Gianluca Sansone, was full of praise for the young Argentine: “He is a player that’s going to do really well,” Sansone told CorriereMercantile.

“Mauro’s clearly got great potential.

“It is a pleasure to play with him and be by his side.

“To have the opportunity to train and play with his is amazing.”

Admittedly, he has some distinct weaknesses which is to be expected; given he’s at a tender age of 20. His passing ability doesn’t reflect his overall game, to the extent of 64.4% success rate, and that’s something he should improve on. Particularly for somebody who had hoped to be a regular first team player for Barcelona – the home of intricate passing. This is believed to be the reason for La Masia ridding of Mauro, as the whole ‘tiki-taka/pass & move’ concept didn’t appear to be his most coveted feature. In fact, he was often described as more Gabriel Batistuta with the Catalan coaches unsure of Icardi’s suitability to the first team. Furthermore, there was little room for orthodox strikers at the club under Pep Guardiola with Zlatan Ibrahimovic (One of the worlds best players) frozen out and David Villa now struggling to get a regular starting place now that Messi has plays more centrally.

Mauro Icardi isn’t one to do the ‘knit & grit’ aspect of the game, meaning his physical stature and presence isn’t one of his strongest features indicating doubts over whether he could adapt to the Premier League, if he was ever to move there. His trickery on the ball may be impressive and dazzling to see at times, but the question of whether Mauro can perform on a cold and wet Wednesday evening in Stoke, remains to be seen.

Transfer Situation

Mauro Icardi has been subject to interest from major clubs, all over Europe. Infact, it was only 2 months or so ago Napoli had a €12.5m bid rejected by Sampdoria, who are believed to have valued him at the €15m mark. His electrifying performances have certainly caught the attention of the likes of Roberto Mancini, who after watching him against AS Roma, was quoted as saying “He scored a great goal and moved very well and I must say I liked him.” It’s been speculated Liverpool scouts have been watching the young Argentine, whilst Inter Milan are reportedly preparing a summer bid. The likes of Chelsea and Tottenham are also said to be keen. Imaginably, Sampdoria will be turning down bids until their own valuation is met.

His immense ability is certainly the attraction, and the prospect of becoming even better as he matures is equally as thrilling. Playing elsewhere would certainly help Mauro Icardi in developing his Career, to which I’m sure Sampdoria will be most afraid of. This man is certainly one to look out for.

UPDATE: Mauro Icardi has joined Inter Milan.

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Michael Fitzgerald

Michael Fitzgerald

A 16 year old analytically critical, aspiring Journalist with a vibrant, passionate, and resounding love for European Football. Avid Liverpool fan.

Twitter: BornOffside9 - I'd follow me.
Michael Fitzgerald

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