Inter replace Icardi with Handanovic as captain

Mauro Icardi and Luciano Spalletti

Mauro Icardi and Luciano Spalletti

Italian giants Inter Milan have confirmed that star striker Mauro Icardi has been stripped of his role as club captain with immediate effect.

The striker has worn the armband since the start of the 2015-16 season but Inter announced on Wednesday afternoon that he would be replaced by goalkeeper Samir Handanovic.

Reports of Icardi losing the captaincy took an unusual turn on Tuesday when Inter's Spanish Twitter account displayed a picture of him handing the armband to Lautaro Martinez, accompanied by the "soon" emoji, which was later deleted.

Icardi has a contract with the Nerazzurri until 2021 but continues to be linked with a move, with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester United all having been credited with an interest.

"Icardi was called up, and has decided not to travel to Vienna", the coach explained to Sky Sport. It has been a tough, painful decision which he probably has not taken well, made with the team's well-being in mind.

It is understood that the decision was a mutual one between the Serie A club and manager Luciano Spalletti.

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'Things around him have disturbed him and the team he captained.

Icardi is reported to have a €110-million release clause in his current contract, valid only for bids from clubs outside of Italy.

"I have not created any problems for Icardi", Spalletti told DAZN.

Despite netting nine goals in the first 13 Serie A matches of the season, Icardi is goalless in the last seven games, which is his longest drought since joining the club, and Inter fear that this contract stand-off is beginning to impact his performances on the pitch.

"There are some very important clubs interested in signing him".

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