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'He is the best player in the world' - Icardi rubbishes claims of rift with Messi

4:02 PM EDT 9/22/19
Mauro Icardi Lionel Messi Argentina 2018
Amid reports that his national team career has been stifled due to issues with the Argentina captain, Icardi insists that the pair get along fine

New Paris Saint-Germain signing Mauro Icardi has rubbished claims that his marriage to Wanda Nara has caused a long-standing rift with Lionel Messi. 

Rumours of bad blood between the two Argentines have been circulating for years, with the beginning of the relationship between Icardi and Nara supposedly responsible. 

The pair began dating soon after Wanda left Icardi's former Sampdoria team-mate Maxi Lopez, and now have two daughters together. 

Messi's friendship with Lopez is well known, and it has often been speculated that the Barcelona star has in the past vetoed Icardi's national team participation in anger at the supposed 'slight'. 

This week, moreover,  L'Equipe   claimed that the Albiceleste captain has instructed fellow national team colleagues Angel di Maria and Leandro Paredes to snub the newcomer at Parc des Princes, making for a frosty reception for the on-loan Inter forward. 

But Icardi himself moved to quash such speculation, insisting that there are no problems between Messi and himself. 

"I knew [Messi] at Barcelona years ago, I let people talk, these are things we cannot avoid," he explained to  Canal +   on Sunday. 

"I do not believe in these stories. I was able to meet him, he is the best player in the world. I appreciate him enormously.

"Those who know me know who I really am, and that's all that matters...It's been seven years [that I've been more judged on my personal life than on my game].

"Wanda is famous, I am too. But that does not affect my game. Otherwise I would not have played for Inter and scored 150 goals. We try to live our relationship as best as possible. We are both in love. And we do not choose who we fall in love with, it's like that."

Icardi swapped Milan for the French capital over the summer after seeing his relationship with Inter fall apart in 2019 over failed contract talks. 

But, after six years at San Siro, he is enjoying a new challenge and is pleased with both the PSG faithful and his link with Edinson Cavani, a rival for starting time up front.

"I got to my seventh year with Inter, my dream was to play in the Champions League with Inter, it came true. We did not win much. We did not win anything but I stayed, I scored goals," he added.

"And it was time for me to play in a winning team. Joining a team with so many great players is what I wanted

"I have just arrived, but when you arrive with an option [to stay permanently], you try to show our best game in order to be bought. So, we'll see next summer.

"I was very moved by the fans. Against Strasbourg when I started to warm up, I received an incredible welcome, the whole stadium sang for me, it was spectacular. It never happened to me [before], and it touched me a lot.

"The competition with Edinson Cavani is healthy. Luckily we both speak Spanish. I would love to play with him, he's a big player."