Lautaro Martinez: Inter Milan squad want Mauro Icardi back

MILAN, ITALY - JANUARY 19: Mauro Emanuel Icardi and Lautaro Martinez of FC Internazionale look on during the Serie A match between FC Internazionale and US Sassuolo at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on January 19, 2019 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

The entire Inter Milan team continue to support Mauro Icardi and hope he will soon return to action once more, says team-mate Lautaro Martinez.

The Argentine striker hasn’t featured for Inter since last week’s shocking announcement that they had stripped him of captaincy in favour of goalkeeper Samir Handanovic.

This came in light of a lack of progress between Icardi and Inter over a contract extension, amid reported interest from Juventus and Real Madrid.

The official reason for Icardi’s absence is down to a knee injury, but Martinez hopes to see his compatriot return to action sooner rather than later after he celebrated his 26th birthday on Tuesday.

“He’s happy to be with us and we’ll continue to support him,” Martinez told Sky Sport Italia.

“It all depends on the decision taken by those who manage him but for us, he’s an important player. We’ll support him, so he can come back and play with us.”

In Icardi’s absence, however, Martinez has impressed up front for Inter to prompt talk of him becoming the 26-year-old’s successor.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 12: Mauricio Pochettino manager / head coach of Tottenham Hotspur applauds during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Everton FC at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on May 12, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

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“I’m very happy with what I’m experiencing,” added the 21-year-old.

“I want to go on like this. I haven’t thought about the number of goals I want to score. I’m only thinking about training and giving my best, trying to exploit every game I play.

“I feel good with [Luciano Spalletti]. I like how he supports me. He’s a coach who talks and helps you. I’m very happy with him.”

The striker has scored seven times in 23 appearances across all competitions for Nerazzurri this season.

Currently, Luciano Spalletti’s side are preparing for Thursday’s return leg against Austrian side SK Rapid Vienna for their Round of 32 Europa League tie.

Inter hold a 1-0 aggregate lead from last week’s first leg, which saw Martinez score the only goal of the game, and will hope to capitalise on their advantage and a book a place in the last-16 at the San Siro.

MILAN, ITALY – JANUARY 31: Mauro Emanuel Icardi and Lautaro Martinez of FC Internazionale react after Ciro Immobile of SS Lazio scored the opening goal during the Coppa Italia match between FC Internazionale and SS Lazio at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on January 31, 2019 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

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