Total chaos! Icardi civil war can only end one way despite peace treaty

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After stripping the striker of the captaincy, the Nerazzurri are now willing to put priorities over principles in pursuit of Champions League football

Beppe Marotta's powers of diplomacy were evident from very early on in his career.

During his time at Varese, club president Mario Colantuoni nicknamed him 'Kissinger', in reference to the famous – or 'infamous' depending on your political leanings – American statesman.

"I am known for my diplomacy, resolving issues with leadership,” Marotta recently boasted. “After all, I once had Antonio Cassano and Colonel Gheddafi's son in the same team!"

Managing those two, though, was nothing compared to trying to handle the fallout from the decision to strip Mauro Icardi of the captaincy at Marotta's current club, Inter.

Icardi hasn't played for the Nerazzurri since that surprise announcement on February 13 but, on Wednesday evening, the Argentine striker is set to start up front in what is a must-win game against Genoa.

The past seven weeks have taken a serious toll on everyone connected with Inter.

During that time, one could argue that only Westminster's Brexit negotiations have provided the watching world with as many farcical scenes as the soap opera at San Siro.

Icardi has been accused of feigning injury. His wife and agent, Wanda, has had to address allegations of infidelity, while an irate fan threw a rock at her car – while she and her kids were inside.

Every single message and gesture have been pored over – from Icardi's choice of headwear (he has worn caps saying 'King' and 'Freedom' at recent games) to Ivan Perisic's seemingly angry reaction to Matteo Politano imitating Icardi's 'cupped ear' goal celebration.

At one point, we had Marotta ringing in to the TV show 'Tika Taka' to console an emotional Wanda live on air.

Bepp Marotta Kissinger PS

It has been a very modern, very public and very embarrassing affair, one more befitting of a divorce court than a football club.

Indeed, it felt perversely appropriate that a lawyer, Paolo Nicoletti, was employed to serve as a mediator as Inter and Icardi tried to reach a settlement last week.

Marotta felt that an accord had been reached, too, with Icardi agreeing to resume training with the first team last week.

With Lautaro Martinez missing through injury, the former skipper even appeared likely to start Sunday's crunch clash with fellow Champions League chasers Lazio at the Giuseppe Meazza.

But then, coach Luciano Spalletti surprised everyone – including his employers – by leaving Icardi out of his squad completely.

Marotta, ever the diplomat, said before the game that "the coach has the right to choose which players to put on the pitch".

However, even the former Juventus chief was furious when Spalletti cut loose after the damaging 1-0 loss to Lazio, his outburst effectively pouring petrol on a fire that had almost been quenched.

“As things stand today, for the way he behaved, he has to stay out and the others have to play," the coach reasoned.

“I think he could’ve played 20-30 minutes, even half a game, but that’s not the point. Those who are in the locker room need to play instead.

"You need to have credibility in a group. I have had credibility for 22 years in my career and I have credibility with my players.

“This mediation is humiliating for Inter fans and for those who love Inter. The need to mediate with someone just to get him to pull on the shirt that they love. It’s humiliating.

"What, do I need to email 20 lawyers and ask them if I can call someone up?!

"People say we lost games without Icardi. Inter didn’t get into the Champions League for years with Icardi. Inter lost worse games than this with Icardi. Lionel Messi makes the difference, not Icardi, with all due respect.

"Professionalism and self-respect are everything. Discipline is everything. I’ve left players out for far less in my time. You must have respect and behave in the locker room.

"Let’s find an Inter fan and ask him if he likes a player negotiating to pull on the Inter shirt."

Luciano Spalletti Icardi Inter PS

Bringing the fans into the equation was certainly a smart move by Spalletti, given the club's ultras have long taken issue with Icardi's character.

Consequently, it was not in the least bit surprising that they issued a statement on Tuesday calling for the club to ditch Icardi as soon as possible.

"After an internal meeting, all the Curva Nord groups unanimously decided that the behaviour of the Nerazzurri No 9 mustn’t be tolerated any longer," they wrote.

"The Nord believes Icardi has shown that he doesn’t possess the necessary character, not just for the captain’s armband but also for a united dressing room...

"Therefore, the Nord’s position is that Icardi is no longer part of Inter and, from now on, will be treated accordingly.

"At Genoa let’s all stick together to build a future together and carry in our hearts the only thing that counts... Inter!"

However, qualifying for the Champions League is also of great importance as far as the club are concerned and the bottom line is that Inter have a far better chance of holding on to third place with their most prolific forward in the starting line-up.

Spalletti is well aware of that too. He knows his job is on the line. Failure to secure a top-four finish would seal his fate, which is why he is now set to select the striker – just three days after eviscerating him on national television.

He said: "No-one comes out as a winner, but a point of reference was needed to start over. And that point is the table.

“We’ll start over from third place with all our available power, which will allow us to fight for our objective until the end of the season.

“Mauro’s able to drag the team forward when he’s in it. From the outside, no. In these last few training sessions and without sending messages on social media, he’s regained his place in the squad."

Curva Nord Icardi Inter PS

Spalletti revealed that Marotta had once again been "decisive" in brokering a peace deal and says the whole sorry case is now closed.

The fans are unlikely to be as forgiving. Marotta and the club have, bafflingly, never explained why Icardi was stripped of the captaincy in the first place but it is presumed to be due to Wanda's public criticism of her husband's team-mates.

Everything that has happened since has only strengthened the supporters' conviction that they would be better off without the pair. They feel Icardi, with the support of his wife, has betrayed the club and their principles, turning them into a laughing stock.

But then, Spalletti and Marotta would probably argue that they have greater priorities right now and that Icardi is of no use to them sitting in the stands, depreciating in value with each passing week.

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In their eyes, Inter will be better served by a temporary truce until the almost inevitable and essential parting of the ways at the end of the season.

Postponing a lasting peace until the summer won't sit well with the fans but, as the morally flexible Henry Kissinger once said, "While we should never give up our principles, we must also realise that we cannot maintain our principles unless we survive."

And Inter clearly feel Icardi remains key to keeping their Champions League hopes alive.

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