MX23RW : Friday, September 24 12:02:37| >> :60:2301:2301:
Feb 14, 2019 at 5.55pm UK at Allianz Stadion (Wien)
Attendance: 23,850
Rapid Vienna
Inter Milan
FT(HT: 0-1)
Martinez (39' pen.)

Chelsea target Mauro Icardi 'refusing to play for Inter Milan'

Chelsea and Real Madrid are handed a boost in their hopes of signing Mauro Icardi as the striker refuses to play for Inter Milan after being stripped of the captaincy.

Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi has refused to play in his side's Europa League match against Rapid Vienna on Thursday night after being stripped of the club captaincy.

Inter announced yesterday that Samir Handanovic would replace Icardi as captain with immediate effect after manager Luciano Spalletti became concerned that the Argentine's protracted contract negotiations were a distraction.

The 25-year-old still has two-and-a-half years remaining on his contract at San Siro, but the likes of Real Madrid and Chelsea have been heavily linked with a bid this summer amid reports that Inter have fallen out with his wife and agent Wanda Nara.

Spalletti admitted that Icardi had not taken the decision well, with the forward refusing to travel to Austria for the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie.

"The decision to remove the captain's armband from Icardi was difficult and painful, because we all know what he is worth to the team," Spalletti told reporters at his pre-match press conference.

"But it was divided between all parts of the club and was made exclusively for the good of Inter. Obviously, he took it badly but there are things which disturb him and the team."

Icardi was given the captain's armband in 2015 and has ended the last four seasons as Inter's top scorer.

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Inter Milan forward Mauro Icardi pictured in December 2018
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