ROME (AP) Nearly two months after it started, the ongoing feud between Mauro Icardi and Inter Milan is making more noise than ever.
Inter coach Luciano Spalletti let his fury run loose following a 1-0 loss at home to Lazio on Sunday that could be costly for the Nerazzurri’s chances of qualifying for the Champions League.
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Spalletti explained why he kept Icardi off Inter’s squad for the match, even though the striker had resumed training with the club over the international break – which followed a six-week exile after being stripped of the captaincy amid protracted contract negotiations.
“He could have played 20-30 minutes, even half a game, but that’s not the point,” Spalletti said. “Those who are in the locker room need to play. You need to have credibility in a group. … I’ve left players out for far less in my time. You must have respect and behave in the locker room.”
Spalletti added that it was “humiliating” for Inter’s fans that it required negotiations with Icardi’s lawyer “just to get him to pull on the shirt that they love.”
“Do I need to email 20 lawyers and ask them if I can call someone up?” Spalletti said.
Icardi last played for Inter on Feb. 9 in a 1-0 win at Parma. After he was stripped of the captaincy four days later, the 26-year-old Icardi had said he had a knee injury, although the club has said tests did not reveal any problem.
“It’s obvious for everyone to see what happened,” Spalletti said.
Inter remained third but is only two points ahead of city rival AC Milan, and five points ahead of rising Lazio (which has a game in hand) and Atalanta.
It remains to be seen if Icardi will return for Wednesday’s match at Genoa.
“If he continues to behave the way he has done recently, then he can start to come back in,” Spalletti said.
Wanda Nara, Icardi’s wife and manager, said her husband “is ready and it’s all down to the decision of the coach.”
Retired Roma captain Francesco Totti could be about to take on a greater role within the club’s management.
Totti has been a special ambassador for Roma since he stopped playing in 2017 following a 25-season career with his hometown club.
But with the recent departure of sporting director Ramon “Monchi” Rodriguez, Totti has been mentioned as a possible replacement.
“Everyone is talking about the possibility of a different role. We’ll see what happens in the future,” Totti said. “I can tell you that if I were to take on a new position, I would change some things. I’ve already spoken to the club about it, but this isn’t the right time to discuss it.”
Totti spoke before a 4-1 loss at home against Napoli on Sunday added another chapter to Roma’s season of discontent.
Roma was also recently eliminated from this season’s Champions League by Porto, which resulted in the firing of coach Eusebio Di Francesco, and routed 7-1 by Fiorentina in the Italian Cup.
“Everyone knows what’s gone wrong this season and that’s why we had to make changes,” said James Pallotta, Roma’s American president. “But the time for excuses is over. … No more alibis for anyone.”
JUVENTUS’ MAGIC NUMBER
Juventus needs to win only four more matches to clinch a record-extending eighth straight Serie A title.
If the Bianconeri compile the victories in succession they could celebrate another championship as soon as April 20 against Fiorentina.
That would give Juventus 90 points, which is the most that second-place Napoli could achieve – since Juventus holds the tiebreaker over Napoli.
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