Former Inter forward Antonio Cassano has claimed that out-of-favour striker Mauro Icardi “does nothing if he doesn’t score”.
Icardi has 16 goals and four assists in all competitions from 30 games for Inter this season, but was involved in a dispute with the club’s hierarchy that saw him stripped of the captaincy and left out of the squad.
In his absence, 20-year-old Lautaro Martinez has flourished, but a hamstring issue has forced his senior counterpart back into contention.
However, Cassano believes that the younger Argentine is a better and more well-rounded player as he ‘plays for the team’.
“Inter play with a 4-2-3-1, which means having only one striker: Icardi cannot play with Lautaro,” Cassano told Tiki Taka.
“If it was up to [Luciano] Spalletti, he would play Martinez because he prefers strikers who play for the team.
“Lautaro’s done very well, he’s 20 and he has to play because he’s better than Mauro.
“Icardi just scores and that’s it. If he doesn’t score, he offers nothing else.”
Cassano joined the Nerazzurri from local rivals AC Milan in 2012 and managed nine goals and 15 assists in 39 appearances before leaving for Parma in a journeyman career that saw him play for six Italian clubs and Real Madrid, and was at pains to list superior strikers to Icardi.
“Spalletti prefers strikers like [Edin] Dzeko, [Karim] Benzema and [Robert] Lewandowski. Icardi is like [Pippo] Inzaghi in that if he doesn’t score, he does nothing else.
“I think Spalletti prefers a player like Lautaro. He wouldn’t even play someone like [Krzysztof] Piatek.
“There are players who score goals and others who score goals and also play for the team.”
Rumours continue to swirl over the future of Icardi, whose contract expires in the summer of 2021, and he has been linked with a move to the Premier League and Real Madrid in the past.
Inter are third in Serie A but remain a whopping 27 points off runaway leaders Juventus, who are 20 points clear of second-placed Napoli.
The Nerazzurri will hope to fend off Milan, who are five points behind them in fourth, and secure Champions League football ahead of next season after a disappointing exit to Eintracht Frankfurt in the last 16 of the Europa League denied them that route to qualification.
Following a 0-0 draw with Atalanta, Inter visit second-bottom Frosinone in their next game on Sunday.