Milan - Inter Milan forward Mauro Icardi will return to action on Wednesday
after nearly two months out amid off-pitch drama over contract talks as
the Serie A club battle for Champions League football next season, coach
Luciano Spalletti confirmed on Tuesday.
The Argentina striker was stripped of the captain's armband on
February 13 amid negotiations played out on social media and TV via
Icardi's wife and agent Wanda Nara, and hasn't played since Inter beat
Parma a few days before.
He was also left out of the weekend's 1-0 home defeat to fellow
Champions league chasers Lazio as punishment for the row, which on
Sunday Spalletti described as "humiliating", despite rumours he would
"The conditions are now right for Mauro to help the team again,"
Spalletti told a press conference ahead of Wednesday's game against
"He'll play from the start because he's displayed the right reaction.
"He's trained well in the past few days, and if a player is in the squad they're able to lend the team a hand.
"Blood, sweat and tears are needed when you play for our colours."
Inter's chances of Champions League football have taken a dent after
returning to the elite European competition this season after seven
The three-time European champions are third in Serie A -- 25 points
behind leaders Juventus and 10 adrift of second-placed Napoli, but just
two points ahead of fourth-placed AC Milan. Lazio, Atalanta and Roma
lurk behind them.
Spalletti justified leaving Icardi out of the defeat to Lazio by
saying that "(Lionel) Messi and (Cristiano) Ronaldo make the difference,
not Icardi" to a team.
"I had to say something to defend the team," he explained.
"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."
But it remains to be seen whether the fans are ready to forgive their
former captain, who has been the club's top scorer for the past four
On Tuesday, Inter's hardcore fan groups came together to issue a joint statement, urging: "Icardi, get out!".
"Icardi has shown that he does not possess the necessary character
not only to wear the captain's armband, but also to build a future and
unite the dressing room," the statement said.