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'Icardi wanted to stay at Inter' - Martinez disappointed to see Argentine leave but welcomes Lukaku's arrival

9:51 AM WAT 10/09/2019
Mauro Icardi Inter
One South American star at San Siro had been hoping to see a fellow countryman stay put, but has been pleasantly surprised by his replacement

Mauro Icardi did not want to leave Inter for Paris Saint-Germain, says Lautaro Martinez, with the Argentine informing those at San Siro of his desire to stay put.

A deadline day deal saw one Argentina international forward depart the Serie A giants.

After much speculation regarding his future - with wife and agent Wanda Nara sparking much of that - Icardi packed his bags in Milan and headed to France.

A season-long loan agreement includes a purchase option for the Ligue 1 champions, but Martinez claims a fellow countryman was eager to remain with Inter.

He told TyC Sports: “I have a good relationship with him and we talk a lot. 

“He wanted to stay and in the talks with the club he always said he wanted to play but now he is in another team and I wish him the best because since I arrived in Italy he has been a key person that has helped me integrate better.”

Inter were prepared to let Icardi leave as they had already drafted in a replacement.

Romelu Lukaku arrived from Manchester United in a £75 million ($92m) deal and was immediately handed the No.9 shirt once occupied by Icardi.

The Belgium international has settled quickly, scoring two goals in as many appearances, and his impact has come as a pleasant surprise to Martinez.

He added: “He immediately adapted to the coach’s ideas and the team’s style of play.

“He’s a striker with incredible characteristics, he’s very powerful. I was surprised by his sheer stature.”

The signing of Lukaku, and subsequent loaning of Alexis Sanchez from Manchester United, has delivered added competition for Martinez.

The highly-rated 22-year-old is, however, accustomed to that, with his battle to see regular game time at international level seeing him form part of an attacking unit that includes the likes of Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero.

Martinez said while preparing for Argentina’s friendly date with Mexico: “I am happy to be here, especially as many of the squad were also my team-mates during the Copa America.

“I know that I have to work even harder, but the Copa America this summer was my first major tournament with the national team and it was very positive.

“On a personal level, I was surprised by just how much playing time I had in the Copa America. I started off expecting to be on the bench and slowly became a first pick.

“It was remarkable, as I hadn’t played that much for Inter during the previous season, but that made me happy and boosted my confidence.

“When playing with Sergio Aguero and Leo Messi, obviously you have to work harder to protect the midfield and defence, but I do more or less the same at Inter when we have two strikers.”