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Icardi in seventh heaven at PSG after escaping from Inter hell

12:00 AM WAT 06/11/2019
Mauro Icardi PSG
The Argentine was forced out of San Siro but has already netted seven goals in just eight outings in Paris to take Edinson Cavani's starting spot

Just a few short months ago, Mauro Icardi's career appeared to be going nowhere fast.

Stripped of the Inter captaincy at the start of 2019 after he and his wife Wanda fell spectacularly out of favour at San Siro, the Argentine saw his place in the Nerazzurri line-up taken by young compatriot Lautaro Martinez.

Antonio Conte's arrival at San Siro did nothing to improve his prospects of remaining in his beloved Milan, as the new coach quickly moved for Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez to strengthen his attack.

The former was even given Icardi's No.9 jersey. As with the decision to take away the armband, Icardi was given no prior warning. The message was clear: he was no longer welcome at Inter.

Icardi was willing to leave, but only for Juventus and the Nerazzurri had no intention of strengthening their bitter rivals. An impasse ensued and just when it appeared that Icardi was going to spend the season in the stands at the Giuseppe Meazza, a deadline-day loan move to Paris Saint-Germain was arranged.

Even then, Icardi's future looked grim. Indeed, given the incredible attacking depth boasted by Thomas Tuchel's men, the striker's prospects of regular first-team football in 2019-20 seemed extremely slim.

But fortune smiled on the loanee, and he has grabbed his chance with both hands.

A spate of early-season injuries to the likes of Neymar and Edinson Cavani thrust Icardi into the spotlight and his enviable goalscoring instincts mean he is now shining on centre-stage.

With seven goals in just eight games so far, the 26-year-old is PSG's second-top scorer, just behind the phenomenal Kylian Mbappe.

Icardi's arrival and a brilliant start to the season from Angel Di Maria have been key to the Ligue 1 side's success, especially in the Champions League, where they have raced to three consecutive wins to lead Group A ahead of Real Madrid, whom they routed 3-0 at the Parc des Princes.

“Icardi is very reliable for us. He scores goals, he is super. He works hard and is very disciplined,” Tuchel beamed to reporters following Icardi's two-goal haul against Club Brugge in October. “He controls the ball and he is very tactically intelligent.

“Edi [Cavani] also works hard when he plays. We have the talent to play the same way without Edi.”

On-field prowess has admittedly never been an issue for Icardi, of course. For years he almost single-handedly kept an underwhelming Inter side afloat with his prolific goalscoring while those around him floundered, even while taking flak from the stands.

Of course, it is primarily the Argentine's off-field lifestyle which provokes so many observers. While other players' private lives generally remain just that, the fact that Icardi married Wanda Nara, the ex-wife of his former team-mate Maxi Lopez, still causes waves.

Wanda also acts as her husband's agent, another fact that the testosterone-fuelled world of football seems to have a hard time digesting.

The ex-model may be a pushy negotiator and prone to questionable public outbursts on her client's behalf, but then so are Neymar Sr, Mino Raiola and indeed most of the game's top representatives, who receive only a fraction of the negative press that sticks to the Icardis.

“I realise it is a taboo that she was married to my ex-team-mate, but we fell in love and you do not choose who you fall in love with,” Maurito explained to Canal +.

“I think that having her as my agent is the best decision for my family and career. I did not hesitate. I am someone who treats men and women equally. I have three sons and two daughters but I treat them the same and give them the same gifts.

“I have been with Wanda for seven years, she is a celebrity and so am I, so we are clearly conscious of what that implies. That does not change my way of thinking or how I play; otherwise, I couldn't have scored 150 goals at Inter.”

Nor, if Icardi's early form at PSG is any indication, will it prove any obstacle to hitting the net in France.

He will have another chance to add to his tally on Wednesday as Brugge visit Parc des Princes, where another win would seal early qualification to the Champions League last 16.

His future may have looked bleak at the depths of his Inter hell, but he has responded in the best possible way: with goals, and lots of them.

Now, PSG are already reportedly considering paying the purchase option to turn what has proven a dream transfer to date into a permanent deal.

Icardi stated on Tuesday, "I will do anything to stay here." Merely continuing to let his football do the talking for once should do the trick.