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Spalletti: Icardi pulled himself out of the Inter Milan squad

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Mauro Icardi withdrew himself from the Inter Milan team that will take on SK Rapid Vienna after being stripped of the captaincy, says manager Luciano Spalletti.

The Nerazzurri made the shocking announcement earlier today that they’ve removed Icardi from his role as captain and replaced him with goalkeeper Samir Handanovic.

The Argentine striker had been the skipper for three years and he’s found the net 122 times in 210 appearances across all competitions since joining Inter in 2013.

But in light of recent rumours linking Icardi with a move away from the San Siro and due to the increased difficulty in negotiating a renewal on his current contract, Inter have decided to strip him of the captaincy.

The Serie A giants also announced that the 25-year-old has not been included for Thursday’s first leg in Austria against Rapid Vienna in the first leg of their last-32 Europa League tie.

However, Spalletti has announced that Icardi chose not to travel to Austria with the squad upon learning of the club’s decision.

“Tomorrow will be a very important game. We’ll have time after that to clarify Icardi’s position,” Spalletti told Sky Sport Italia.

“It was a difficult and painful decision but one supported by everyone and made for the good of Inter and the team.

“His no-show? It was him who didn’t want to join up with the team. He was called up. He was disappointed, but it was also difficult for us to make this decision and announce it to him.

“There’s a situation that needs addressing and I said it after Parma. What’s happened confirms that.

“If there’s anyone who’s thinking about anything other than the result tomorrow night, they’re wrong to do that.

“We’ve made a decision at an appropriate time and one that was well thought-out, albeit one that was very painful.

“Things around him have disturbed him and the team he captained. Now we have to focus all our attention on tomorrow’s game.”

Not helping matters is Icardi’s struggles for form at the moment with just two goals in his last nine appearances for Inter.

Spalletti’s side will take on Rapid Vienna on Thursday at the Allianz Stadion with kick-off set for 9:00 PM (CET).

MILAN, ITALY – SEPTEMBER 25: Mauro Emanuel Icardi of FC Internazionale holds the ball during the Serie A match between FC Internazionale and ACF Fiorentina at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on September 25, 2018 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)