Reports broke on Sunday that Arsenal had made contact with Mauro Icardi’s ‘entourage’ in order to set up a meeting this week and they were given the go-ahead.
The news first came from Gianluca Di Marzio who has a decent track record when it comes to insider news.
— Gianluca Di Marzio (@DiMarzio) July 17, 2016
From there, it spread like wildfire and I spent a large part of the day watching the rumour morph from Arsenal requesting talks and setting them up to talks actually taking place and Icardi ‘jetting in’.
This is how these things work now. One little tweak by each new site that picks the story up and you go from ‘Arsenal ask for talks’ to ‘Icardi flies in to continue Arsenal talks’ without anyone actually adding any new information to back up their claims.
So what’s going on? Who are they meeting? And is a deal likely to happen?
Well, firstly, Icardi’s agent is his wife, Wanda Nara, an Argentine ‘media personality’ who was the centre of controversy in Italy when Icardi picked up with Nara after she split from Maxi Lopez.
Nara has already caused a storm when she said last week “People try to make me look like some crazy agent. There are many offers for him, but it’s not my job to negotiate with other clubs. My role is to discuss Mauro’s contract.
“I do know that Atletico Madrid, Tottenham and Arsenal came forward. Now there are Roma and Napoli in there too.
“Last week the Juventus director of sport Fabio Paratici met with (Inter chief Piero) Ausilio and asked for Icardi, offering an important sum, over €50m. Then they’ll say it isn’t true, but that’s what happened: I don’t tell lies.
“I will speak to the Chinese owners as soon as I get the chance. They don’t want to sell Icardi. He is a symbol, the fact of Inter. It’s like Paul Pogba for Juve.
“Why do they not want to give him what he was promised? Words mean more than a contract. Mauro was called in by (Vice-President Javier) Zanetti and told him not to worry, that things would get sorted out. I know he’ll do everything possible to keep him.
“Mauro has enormous strength and character. He doesn’t want to leave, he’d happily stay at Inter for life. However, we need clarity and respect for the promises made.
“The fans are not stupid and I am not some crazy person who just comes out with this stuff for no reason.
“If Mauro is worth €50-60m, then he deserves better wages. Promises must be kept.”
That last line is perhaps the most telling of them all and it, immediately, smacks of an agent simply trying to get a better deal for their client.
Icardi last renewed his Inter deal last June but after a season which saw him score 16 with four assists in 33 league games, and in a summer which will be notable for the crazy prices strikers will command, it’s perhaps unsurprising that he is seeking a better pay packet for himself.
Inter have repeatedly stated that the 23-year-old goalscorer is not for sale. Under contract until 2019, his market value is around £30m but in this insane window he will probably cost considerably more as Nara mentioned above, should someone wish to try and push the Italians into selling.
I’m always very sceptical when it comes to transfers that involve players at Italian teams and Arsenal, even more so when it’s a South American involved.
A meeting may well take place this week, but at this point I don’t feel there is anything to this transfer beyond agent games.
Happy to be proven wrong, as always.