In a stunning move, Inter Milan have stripped Mauro Icardi of the captaincy, replacing him with goalkeeper Samir Handanovic.
The striker has worn the armband since the start of the 2015-16 season but Inter announced on Wednesday afternoon that he was being replaced amid difficult contract renewal talks with the Argentine.
There are also concerns that he will be tempted to leave the San Siro when it expires in summer 2021.
Italian outlet TuttoMercatoWeb have also reported that Icardi will not be included in the squad for Inter’s Europa League game against Rapid Vienna on Thursday.
Manager Luciano Spaletti had suggested Icardi’s displays were being hit by the contract issues at the weekend:
‘Mauro is evidently seeing his performance affected by some situations that have been going on recently.
‘He needs to free himself from the talk that is around him. The directors agreed to start talking about the contract, so now they need to go there and conclude it.’
It is believed that Icardi is demanding an annual salary between €9-10 million plus bonuses but Inter are offering a deal between €6.5-7 million a season with some rich bonuses attached that would bring his total annual salary to the €9-10 million mark.
Meanwhile, Wanda Icardi, his wife and agent, said that the striker was not in a rush to sign a new deal, but that he wanted to stay in Milan.
‘Spalletti didn’t have it in for me,’ Wanda said. ‘I didn’t mention the renewal. When the club called me, it was to get to know each other better and talk about other things.
‘I’d like to see Mauro more protected by the club because sometimes nasty things have come out from inside.
‘The priority is Inter: I’ve never demanded a renewal. We’re in no hurry, he still has two years left on his contract.’