Icardi: Ibrahimovic not the player he was at Inter

The Argentine feels that old age is catching up with the Sweden international, claiming that the 33-year-old now plays in a more "relaxed" manner

Inter striker Mauro Icardi says that while Zlatan Ibrahimovic remains a "top player", the Paris Saint-Germain forward has regressed since his time at San Siro.

Ibrahimovic won three Scudetti in this three seasons with the Nerazzurri before leaving for Barcelona in 2009 and then returning to Italy the following year to join AC Milan.

The Sweden international has since moved on to PSG, whom he has fired to back-to-back Ligue 1 titles.

However, Icardi feels that the passing of time is slowly but surely taking its toll on the 33-year-old attacker.

"Although he's not the Ibrahimovic that played for Inter, he remains a top player today," the Argentine told Tuttosport. "But getting older, you play in a more relaxed way.

"My role model is [from Argentina ace Gabriel] Batistuta. But while at Barcelona, the forward that I most resembled was [Samuel] Eto'o."

Icardi came through the youth team ranks at La Masia but never broke into the Barca first team and he feels that he was a victim of the same tactical restrictions that hindered Ibrahimovic during his solitary season at Camp Nou.

"The same thing happened to Ibra despite the fact that he is a great forward," the 21-year-old stated. "In the last 10 years, Barcelona never nedeed a penalty-box centre-forward. Their game has never provided for it. This convinced me to go to Sampdoria [in 2011]."

Icardi proved himself at the Luigi Ferraris, with his fine goalscoring form earning him a move to Inter in 2013.

The Rosario native is the Nerazzurri's top scorer this term, with 14 goals in 21 Serie A appearances, but the San Siro are struggling, currently sitting 11th in the table.

Consequently, Icardi is looking forward to the arrival of Lukas Podolski, who is set to join Inter on loan from Arsenal.

"He's a great player," the Nerazzurri No.9 added. "The president [Erick Thohir] wants to improve the squad for the second half of the season. [Podolski's] arrival will be a great thing for the team."