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Mauro Icardi: Bust-ups & brawls - why Chelsea, Man Utd are still keen

Mauro Icardi and those close to the Inter Milan striker insist he's the complete opposite to his public image.

His goals and explosive performances, particularly under coach Roberto Mancini since his midseason appointment, have sparked the interest of Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool.

But amongst the goalscoring headlines involving Icardi, you can also find bust-ups with teammates, clashes with fans and even the social media taunting of a former friend after taking up with his ex-wife!

"I'm a bad boy? I do not care about what people say about me, I think about my life, to do what I like," he says.

As his words hint, a trait of Icardi's is his defiance in the face of criticism, which led to the Argentine falling out with Inter fans earlier this year. Ultras threw Icardi's shirt back at him at the end of a poor defeat to Sassuolo. This incident had come just weeks after he'd clashed on the pitch with former teammate Dani Osvaldo.

But agent Elio Letterio Pino, who is among his representative team, insists Icardi is misunderstood.

"He's a great guy who is totally the opposite of the image that many have of him. He is generous and altruistic. You always see him helping children," says Pino.

Ulisses Savini, along with Pino, brought Icardi to Italy after spotting him at Barcelona's academy. He was placed in Sampdoria's primavera team and his impact quickly had Italy scouts recommending they cap him.

Savini recalled: "I have a memory of Mauro. He played for the primavera team of Sampdoria, scored four goals against Sassuolo and the club wanted to send him to an U19 Italy camp.

"He came to my house and was upset, he was sad. He immediately said 'no' because he felt Argentine."

After the difficult summit, Savini thought he'd calm down Icardi by watching the El Clasico between Real Madrid and his former club.

Savini continued: "That day we watched the Barcelona-Real Madrid game, he was supporting the Blaugrana and I the Blancos.

"Real won and from that day Mauro does not talk about Barcelona with me!"

Icardi, it was claimed, left Barca under a cloud after a bust-up with then coach Pep Guardiola. But he insists he had a good relationship with his former Barca B coach and left for Samp due to better playing opportunities.

"No, I never had any problems with him, he was the first to greet me upon my arrival and make me feel important," recalled Icardi to Calcio2000.

"He took me into his office and told me about Barcelona.

"When I learned about the opportunity to come to Genoa, I thought I had to make the most of it. I knew I could become a real striker there."

While he won't indulge in false modesty, Icardi admits he's the not the most naturally gifted footballer and is determined to make the most of what God has given him.

"I always wanted to play football, but did not think I'd get to this level. From day to day I have had important opportunities granted me that I have been able to exploit."

Under former coach Walter Mazzarri at Inter last season, Icardi's form was often hit and miss. Though his inconsistency shouldn't be blamed entirely on Mazzarri, with Icardi's campaign dominated by the 'Wanda farce'.

Icardi and former Samp teammate Maxi Lopez fell out after he started dating his then best friend's ex-wife, Wanda Nara. The press was full of the saga and Icardi did not help matters by taunting the now Torino striker with tweets about his relationship.

Icardi and Wanda have since married and daughter Francesco was born in January. But Lopez is still angry over the way Icardi behaved.

"I never started any of this. I always felt a private life should remain private. We need to be professionals in that respect," he said.

However, the social media taunts have ended and under Mancini, Icardi is again making headlines for his on-field exploits.

"Icardi is very young, has great potential and is a great striker," enthused the Nerazzurri coach. "He has a bright future ahead of him and hopefully will stay on this track.

"We have to protect him and teach him.

"He must understand that being with a great club like Inter, you must always be at your best."

Mancini has been working closely with Icardi since his November appointment and can often be spotted at the club's Appiano Gentile training complex in deep conversation with his striker.

"Mancini has identified weaknesses in Mauro's game," an Inter training source told, "particularly his hold up play.

"One of the things we've seen from Mauro since Christmas has been an improvement with his back to goal. Mancini has been drilling this into him."

But will Inter see the long-term benefit?

Icardi is aware of Premier League interest and his agents have been pushing Inter to open talks over a pay upgrade. The striker is among the lowest paid of Inter's senior players.

With United, Chelsea and Liverpool all monitoring his progress, Icardi knows he's in a strong position.

"I hope one day to be remembered as a player who has done important things and won major trophies."

With Inter?

"I still have three years on my contract, if the renewal can be done with Inter then I'll stay longer, otherwise there are still three years on my contract."

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Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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