Icardi will be welcomed with open arms, insists Candreva

Inter players will welcome Mauro Icardi back into the team "with open arms" despite his seemingly fractious relationship with the club, according to Antonio Candreva.

There is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding Icardi, as the Argentina striker and the Nerazzurri hierarchy are at loggerheads due to a series of issues.

Not only are contract negotiations said to have stalled, Inter are reported to be unhappy with Icardi's wife and agent Wanda Nara publicly commenting on club matters. He was also stripped of the captaincy last week.

Following that decision head coach Luciano Spalletti said Icardi decided not to play in their Europa League last-32 first leg against Rapid Vienna, with the 26-year-old suggesting on social media he is nursing a right knee injury.

Icardi watched the 2-1 victory over Sampdoria on Sunday from the stands and a scan on Wednesday suggested no significant knee issue was detected, but Candreva insists the team are looking forward to his return despite the ongoing saga.

"We have talked a lot about this situation, directors, the president and coach all spoke about it," Candreva told reporters ahead of Thursday's return match against Rapid.

"We know that Mauro is displeased, as we are. He's a super guy. He cares about us and the Inter shirt, and we are waiting for him with open arms."

The situation has opened the door for Lautaro Martinez to lead Inter's line, with the pre-season recruit from Argentina's Racing Club previously used mostly from the bench.

Spalletti is adamant he and Icardi can play together, however.

"I have always said that they are very similar, they are two central strikers," Spalletti said. "But like all similar attackers, they can coexist.

"One is better in the penalty area, the other is relaxed in coming out [of the box]. Lautaro must show that in front of the goal he has the same exceptional skill as Icardi.

"Until recently we have always said that Icardi was an important absence, and it is the same now."

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