Luciano Spalletti Says 'Something New Happened' as Mauro Icardi Saga Continues

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistMarch 30, 2019

MILAN, ITALY - FEBRUARY 21:  Mauro Emanuel Icardi of FC Internazionale and his wife Wanda Nara attend the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 Second Leg match between FC Internazionale and SK Rapid Wien at San Siro on February 21, 2019 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)
Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

The saga involving Inter Milan and Mauro Icardi has taken yet another turn, as manager Luciano Spalletti has left the striker out of his squad to face Lazio and explained his decision by saying "new things happened."

Per Football Italia, Icardi returned to training ahead of the Lazio game for the first time since February. While Inter stated his absence was because of a knee injury, it coincided with him being stripped of the captaincy, a decision the Nerrazzuri have yet to explain.

Icardi was expected to feature on Sunday against Lazio and was even in line to start after an injury to fellow forward Lautaro Martinez, but Spalletti has left him out of the squad:

"In some ways, it was like having a new player, because he hadn't been with us for such a long time.

"He trained with us and in some ways we need to get him back into our training regime behaviour. Considering what happened lately, including yesterday, I maintain he is not yet able to help his teammates in this game. That is why he will not be called up.

"I have to consider everything, from the previous period all the way up to yesterday. He trained with us all week, something new happened yesterday that I need to evaluate. Training sessions are fundamental. For the next few games, we'll see."

Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

Speaking to ANSA (h/t Football Italia), Icardi's lawyer responded with surprise to the news, indicating Spalletti's decision is not because of the player's fitness:

"Since the day of Icardi's return to training, he has been at the full disposal of the squad, behaving professionally and following the steps worked out by me, CEO Beppe Marotta and President Steven Zhang in the interests of both Inter and the player.

"I was not informed as to the decision to leave Icardi out of the squad, so not knowing the reasons for it, I cannot comment on that.

"I spoke to Marotta daily, who always told me that everything was going positively."

Per the report, the lawyer was needed as an intermediary to negotiate Icardi's return to the squad.

The 26-year-old has been with Inter since 2013 but appears to be inching ever closer to a summer exit. Icardi―along with his wife and agent, Wanda Nara―and Inter fought out an ugly public battle following the decision to remove his captaincy.

PARMA, ITALY - FEBRUARY 09:  Mauro Icardi of FC Internazionale looks on during the Serie A match between Parma Calcio and FC Internazionale at Stadio Ennio Tardini on February 10, 2019 in Parma, Italy.  (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)
Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

According to ESPN FC's Ben Gladwell, Inter did not appreciate comments Nara made about the team in public. Nara frequently appears on Italian television as a pundit and hasn't shied away from criticising the club.

Inter added fuel to the saga by making a statement on their official website that said a scan found no damage to his knee, downplaying the injury that supposedly sidelined the forward.

Icardi's return to training this week seemed to be a step in the right direction, and the club made a big deal out of his return:

However, indications are the two parties are nowhere close to making up.

A happy ending seems as unlikely as ever, and Inter fans have noted his transfer value has plummeted as well:

Alex Donno @AlexDonno

Tracking Icardi’s value on the transfer market #Inter https://t.co/a51KJ2P8M6

Lazio sit just eight points behind Inter in the standings, so Sunday's contest will be a crucial one in the race for the European places. With Martinez and Icardi both sidelined, the Nerrazzuri will be without their two best attackers, leaving former Lazio man Keita Balde Diao as the likely starter.

Spalletti confirmed Inter will also be without defender Stefan de Vrij, adding to the team's worries ahead of this important fixture.