What can Mauro Icardi bring to Stamford Bridge?
Despite a near flawless first half of the season it’s quite obvious Chelsea could do with bolster...
Despite a near flawless first half of the season it’s quite obvious Chelsea could do with bolstering one particular area of their well rounded squad. That is of course, the attack.
Diego Costa has settled impeccably but the wear and tear of playing week in week out off the back of a World Cup has become evident and the Blues need reinforcements to maintain their Premier League challenge. The Spanish striker, as tough as he may be, has suffered injuries already and more are to be expected.
The wise thing for Chelsea to do would be pro-active and account for any potential loss. Didier Drogba may be a club legend but he can’t compete with the best like he did in his initial spell at the club. Loic Remy meanwhile is no long term project, despite an admittedly impressive Premier League goalscoring rate.
There was a further spanner thrown in the works this past week too, with news that Manchester City, arguably Chelsea’s main rivals domestically, are closing in on a deal for the prolific Wilfried Bony. Jose Mourinho needs to counteract this, and he might not even need someone as prolific. If he did get that type of player however, then all the better.
Mauro Icardi, for all his flaws - more on those later - might well be best placed to be the solution. The Inter striker is the perfect work in progress with the rough edges Mourinho typically likes to smooth. Look at his work with the likes of Eden Hazard, Willian and Nemanja Matic.
The upside with Icardi could well be considerable; he packs enough ability to provide at least some instant impact while in the future he has the makings of a top striker to dominate on the continent. He turns 22 next month and has already offered enough glimpses of his glorious ability.
The key ingredient.
What makes Icardi stand out from the rest is his eye for goal, he possesses an incredible knack of hitting the target in a thoroughly true manner. His goalscoring statistics in Serie A don’t lie. This season alone he has nine goals, of the 26 Inter have scored in total. That’s an impressive 35% contribution and only Antonio Di Natale at Udinese has more. Last season, meanwhile, he bagged nine goals in just 1309 minutes of play.
This past week he showed has appetite for the big occasion, and while being anonymous for most of the game he sprung to life to bag his fourth goal in five appearances against Juventus. A rare intangible amongst strikers these days is that instinct in the penalty area, and only few truly possess it, especially now with the number 10 and wingers coming to the fore as goalscorers. The pure striker is a dying breed, but Icardi is aiming to fly the flag a little while longer. Mourinho is clearly eyeing this type of striker, especially given his fleeting interest in Mattia Destro at AS Roma.
It’s worth remembering how poor this Inter side of Icardi’s is too, and currently resides in a state of transition. Mauro is being built as a focal point, leading the line but also dropping off to help the flow of attacking moves. While this is all going on, he is scoring, contributing, and giving Inter fans belief they still have a true star in their midst. Legend at the club Javier Zanetti is a particularly huge fan, reportedly urging then Argentina coach at the time Alejandro Sabella to call up the young striker. He followed the advice too,
Icardi, brought through Barcelona’s famed La Masia as a youngster, possesses all the tricks, flicks and general technical ability you’d associate with someone out of the famed youth academy. His approach play is constantly improving, as he is beginning to view teammates around him better and offer a pass or lay off to them. It’s a feature of his game that needs work, in terms of contributing more to the team, but who better than Mourinho to implement that? The Portuguese could well drive the remaining few absent attributes into Icardi, and turn him into one of the most feared strikers around in the process.
Temperament is an issue both on and off the field; a love triangle with his celebrity girlfriend and former teammate at Sampdoria, Maxi Lopez, didn’t help Icardi’s often scrutinised reputation. If the main focus in Icardi’s life can be football, and solely that, then the talent will fulfil in quick time.
The base and more of the player is already there, and with the natural finishing touch in the penalty area, that is something that cannot be taught. Mourinho is the man perfectly poised to finish the lesson.