Analysis

FourFourTwo's 100 Best Football Players in the World 2017: No. 14, Mauro Icardi

It's about time Inter's Argentina frontman got the Champions League football he deserves – but in the meantime, carving up Serie A defences will have to do

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If all you know about the Inter captain is the love triangle story concerning him, his now-wife and former teammate Maxi Lopez, you’re missing out. 

Simply, Mauro Icardi is one of the deadliest strikers in world football, and rarely needs more than half a chance to bury balls in the back of nets. He is ruthlessly clinical, and a record of 77 goals in 117 Serie A games since the start of 2014/15 is verging on the ridiculous. The Argentine frontman has singlehandedly made a mockery of Italy’s reputation as a league filled with stingy defences.

STATS insight

  • Icardi is Serie A's top scorer with 16 goals this season. His 1.03 goals per 90 minutes average is the second-highest in the division

Yet his haul is far more indicative of Icardi’s ability in front of goal rather than a critique of the men he is lining up against.

He has also slowly begun to improve his overall contributions to Inter’s play. Two years on from finishing as Capocannoniere (and still only 24 years old), Icardi is now a much more complete player; physically stronger and able to ride challenges. Last season he also registered a career-high eight assists.

His continued excellence for the Nerazzurri has finally become impossible for Argentina to ignore too: new boss Jorge Sampaoli ended Icardi’s three-year absence from the national team back in June, adding him to an embarrassment of attacking riches.

Given he has yet to play in the Champions League, a strong showing at next summer’s World Cup could finally allow a wider audience to see that there's more to him than bad tattoos and his relationship with Wanda Nara. If you believe reports, Real Madrid have already taken notice. 

Highlight: Icardi was relentless against rivals Milan in October's 3-2 win, thrice giving Inter the lead – and ending the contest with a cool 90th-minute penalty. 

All insights provided by STATS – the pioneer of live sports data

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FourFourTwo's 100 Best Football Players in the World 2017