Javier Zanetti 'Not Aware' of Real Madrid Interest in Mauro Icardi Amid Rumours

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistNovember 6, 2018

TOPSHOT - Inter Milan's Argentinan forward Mauro Icardi celebrates after scoring during Italian Serie A football match Lazio between Inter Milan at the Olympic stadium in Roma, on October 29, 2018. (Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)

Inter Milan vice-president Javier Zanetti has said the club are "not aware" of Real Madrid's interest in captain Mauro Icardi despite frequent links between the two parties. 

Icardi has enjoyed consistent scoring form at the San Siro for the past four years and inspired alleged interest from Los Blancos, but Zanetti spoke to Marca (h/t Football Espana) and detailed his importance at Inter.

He said: "Icardi is very happy at Inter, and we are not aware of any interest of Real Madrid. We know the situation of our own club, we are under no pressure to sell, and Mauro is our star player and our focal point in attack."

Questions have been asked of Real's lacklustre attack this season, and the club recorded the longest goal drought in their history in October, per Marca's Juan Ignacio Garcia-Ochoa, prior to Julen Lopetegui's sacking.

Results have improved since Santiago Solari took over as interim coach, with Real winning their last two matches against Melilla in the Copa del Rey and Real Valladolid in La Liga, scoring six times.

Inter have scored 21 goals in 11 league games—only Juventus and Napoli (24) have more—and Icardi is responsible for six of those.

The Argentina international failed to net in his first four league games this season but has now bagged in each of his last four outings. He's hit a particularly hot patch of form of late, per OptaPaolo:

OptaPaolo @OptaPaolo

5 - Mauro #Icardi has scored five goals with his last six shots on target in Serie A. Sniper #LazioInter https://t.co/yZfdPu8pCa

Karim Benzema is Real's top scorer this term with seven goals in 16 games—four in La Liga—as the Frenchman has attempted to help fill the void left after Cristiano Ronaldo departed for Juventus in the summer.

The Frenchman, 31 in December, netted 31 times in 95 appearances over the past two campaigns, but Solari has found value in his other talents and called Benzema "incredible" after their recent win over Valladolid:

"I'm not the one who is going to discover him. He was liked by the previous managers, and he's an incredible player.

"He's got incredible tactics, he makes his team-mates better and he worked very hard also in defence, which I think are fantastic characteristics which say a lot about him."

It's no surprise Inter legend Zanetti appears so precious over Argentinian compatriot Icardi, who recently scored twice against Lazio to help keep the Nerazzurri second in Serie A:

The 25-year-old has a contract at the San Siro until 2021, which is said to have a €110 million (£96.1 million) buyout clause that could be deemed within Real's reach in the current market.

Former Barcelona academy pupil Icardi has spent the past seven years of his career in Italy and moved to Inter from Sampdoria in 2013.

He's scored 115 goals in 193 appearances for the Milan outfit, per Transfermarkt, and averaged 0.59 goals per game over the course of his five years.

Zanetti and Inter appear secure over Icardi's long-term future in Milan, but the links with Real could test those loyalties when their need to sign a new striker becomes more desperate.