The Switzerland international appeared to tell supporters to ‘f*** off’ in response to jeers when he was substituted on Sunday

Arsenal hero Ian Wright has told Granit Xhaka to apologise after the Gunners captain lost his cool with home fans in the draw against Crystal Palace.

Wright, the club’s former striker, said Xhaka had no right to react as he did when substituted during the London derby that finished 2-2 at Emirates Stadium.

Xhaka cupped an ear to the jeering crowd and appeared to swear towards Arsenal supporters before taking off his shirt and storming down the tunnel.

They had been baying for him as he slowly made his way off the pitch, with Xhaka’s performances rarely meeting the high standards of previous Arsenal captains.

But Wright insisted the behaviour was inexcusable, saying on Match of the Day 2: “He should apologise. That’s the captain. He should have apologised already.

“[If he apologises] it’s not a case of that’s the end of it, but that’s the guy they’ve chosen as the captain and that’s not captain’s behaviour.

“Arsenal fans have showed a lot of patience with him and the performances he’s put in. He owes them a lot more than acting like that.”

Wright questioned whether Xhaka’s confidence might have gone because of flak from supporters and suggested he was reluctant to show for the ball.

“Players getting booed is not the best at the best of times,” Wright said.

“I think they’re frustrated with the fact he’s not run off the pitch. I’ve seen him substituted before and he’s bolted off the pitch.

“This time he’s walked off. Now he’s goading them.

“We’re talking about fans that have watched him play, in the four years he’s been there, a handful of good games and he’s treating the fans like that.”

Trouble could be brewing at Arsenal, with the 27-year-old Swiss set to have talks with head coach Unai Emery about his behaviour.

The Instagram account of striker Alexandre Lacazette also liked a post from a widely followed Arsenal supporter who said “enough is enough” for Emery and that Xhaka should never play for the club again.

Wright stressed that regardless of the fans’ views and the way they might express them, Xhaka was out of order with his response during Sunday’s game.

“He’s the captain, so he’s got the responsibility of being able to take that on board because he’s been voted as the captain,” Wright said.

“You can’t go like that. The amount of stick that someone like Mesut Ozil’s got, I can understand if Mesut Ozil came off and threw his shirt down, but [Xhaka] is the captain; the manager’s got faith in him.”

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Arsenal lost on penalties after a crazy 5-5 draw with Liverpool in the last 16 of the Carabao Cup but their German playmaker made an impressive return

If Mesut Ozil can perform like this after a five-week break, just imagine what he could do when fully match fit.

Thrown back into the fold by Unai Emery, Arsenal’s No.10 delivered a superb performance during a quite remarkable Carabao Cup tie at Anfield which Liverpool edged on penalties after a breath-taking 5-5 draw.

Ozil set up one and had a big hand in two other goals before being replaced by Matteo Guendouzi with the score at 4-4 midway through the second half.

Given the German had not played since starting the win against Nottingham Forest in the previous round last month, it was perhaps understandable that the 31-year-old was taken off.

However, there will no doubt be questions asked as to why Emery decided to replace the game’s stand-out performer with the tie still in the balance.

For 65 minutes, Ozil was at his mercurial best. Yes, this was a Liverpool team that featured 11 changes from the side the beat Spurs on Sunday and included five teenagers – one of which was making his full debut.

But that still shouldn’t detract from the display Ozil produced at a ground where many thought he would struggle.

In a game littered with mistakes, the German was a class above anyone else on the pitch – serving a timely reminder to Emery of his qualities ahead of Saturday’s meeting with Wolves in the Premier League.

Ozil hasn’t featured in a league game since the 2-2 draw with Watford in September, but given his showing at Anfield, Emery surely has to bring him back into the starting XI at the Emirates this weekend.

Without the World Cup winner in their side, Arsenal have struggled for creativity in recent weeks. There were no such struggles on Merseyside, though. Unfortunately, the same old problems persisted at the back.

Having gone behind to an early Shokdran Mustafi own goal, the visitors stunned Anfield with three goals in 17 minutes.

Lucas Torreira got the first, tapping home from close range after Bukayo Saka’s shot had been saved. Ozil was at the heart of the move, crossing for Saka having already played a fine reverse pass to Ainsley Maitland-Niles earlier in the build-up.

Gabriel Martinelli then took centre stage, scoring twice, the second of which came after Ozil had freed Saka down the left with a wonderful flick.

Martinelli has now scored seven goals in seven games this season. The Brazilian is the highest-scoring teenager in Europe’s top five leagues and is the first Arsenal player to score on his first four starts since Ian Wright.

James Milner pulled a goal back from the penalty spot just before the break, only for Arsenal to seemingly seize control of the contest with a fourth nine minutes after the restart.

Again, the goal had Ozil at the heart of it. Ainsley Maitland-Niles chased down an underhit Milner backless and poked the ball past 20-year-old keeper Caoimhin Kelleher.

The ball seemed to be running out of play before Ozil produced a sumptuous flick to keep it alive and give Maitland-Niles a tap-in.

Liverpool looked down and out, but then Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain smashed one home from distance to reduce the deficit before Divock Origi levelled having worked himself space on the edge of the box.

Suddenly, the hosts were on top – only for Joe Willock, who otherwise had a poor night, to thump one into the top corner from 30 yards and restore Arsenal’s lead.

But even then, they couldn’t hold on, with Origi levelling deep into five minutes of stoppage time to send the game to penalties.

Hector Bellerin, Guendouzi, Martinelli and Maitland-Niles all scored for Arsenal, but Dani Ceballos saw his spot kick saved by Kelleher, allowing 18-year-old Curtis Jones to send Liverpool into the quarter-finals.

The defeat will only increase the pressure on Emery, whose substitutions during the second half will be called into question.

Arsenal now face Wolves and Leicester in the league before the international break. If things go wrong in those two games, then the Spaniard will find himself in a very uncomfortable position.

However, on the evidence of this crazy game at Anfield, Ozil still has what it takes to help him out. It’s over to you, Unai…

Three consecutive wins had the Red Devils looking good in the run-up to the clash in Dorset but it was another poor showing from the Norwegian’s men

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has stated that he doesn’t know whether he should have fielded a different starting XI in Manchester United’s 1-0 Premier League loss to Bournemouth on Saturday, with his side now having recorded only three wins in 11 top-tier matches.

United headed into the clash off the back of three away victories – against Partizan, Norwich and Chelsea – but failed to capitalise on any perceived momentum as they struggled for 90 minutes against a compact and well-drilled Cherries side.

A solitary goal from Josh King, expertly dispatched after taking down Adam Smith’s cross, bamboozling Aaron Wan-Bissaka and finishing low and hard past David de Gea, would ultimately settle the contest.

The Red Devils did rally late on, however, and had decent efforts through Mason Greenwood, Scott McTominay and Fred, but their opponents proved too strong to break down at the Vitality Stadium.

The result now puts Bournemouth ahead of United in the Premier League by three points, continuing the latter’s worst start to a season in 34 years, and their manager admitted that perhaps the wrong personnel were deployed for the clash.

“We’re disappointed,” Solskjaer told BT Sport after the match. “When you get to places like this you have to take control of the game. We started really well first 15 minutes but then there was a lack of quality and we couldn’t get a goal. 

“The first goal was always going to be important. Every time you concede a goal it’s a bad goal to give away but it’s a bit of magic that wins the game, you’ve got to say that. 

“Maybe I should’ve started a couple of others, who knows?”

Pressed on whether fatigue played a role in the loss, having played in midweek against Chelsea, Solskjaer added: “We started the game well, so I don’t think that was the case. Wednesday night, Saturday early. We lacked quality at times.

“If you want to be challenging for the top four you have to be winning games like this. We’re disappointed [but] we’ve got a game on Thursday against Partizan and we can make sure we go through and then we play Brighton before the international break.”

The Chelsea midfielder has been talked up as a potential target for the Spanish giants by Mitchell van Bergen, but he remains focused on the Blues

Chelsea midfielder Mason Mount has shrugged off claims from former Vitesse team-mate Mitchell van Bergen suggesting that he could become a transfer target for Barcelona and Real Madrid.

The 20-year-old midfielder has enjoyed a meteoric rise to prominence over the course of the last 12 months.

A season-long loan spell at Derby last season allowed the youngster to get regular game time in English football under the guidance of Frank Lampard.

He is now working under the same coach at Stamford Bridge, with greater emphasis being placed on youth as those at Stamford Bridge work under the constraints of a transfer ban.

Mount has starred after being given a leading role for the Blues, earning plenty of plaudits for his playmaking qualities and senior international recognition with England.

Van Bergen, who played alongside the Chelsea academy graduate during a 2017-18 loan spell in the Eredivisie, believes La Liga heavyweights could come calling at some stage.

Mount, though, claims to be fully focused on events in west London, telling reporters when quizzed on the Barca and Real talk: “I saw what Mitchell said.

“I’m obviously very close to him – we had a very close bond. He’s a brilliant player.

“But my focus is on Chelsea and this is my first year, so I don’t look too far ahead.

“My focus is on the next game, that’s kind of how far I look ahead.”

Van Bergen, who is now on the books at Heerenveen, has claimed that Mount boasts the potential to represent the biggest clubs in Europe.

He told Dutch media outlet NOS: “Mason is going to reach the absolute top.

“In the Premier League he will be a complete player and I will see him eventually ending up at FC Barcelona or Real Madrid. I think he will fit there.”

For now, Mount is tied to a long-term contract with Chelsea.

He committed to a new five-year deal over the summer and has gone on to take in 16 appearances for the Blues in 2019-20.

Four goals have been recorded in those outings, with the talented youngster looking to break into double figures once more after finding the target 14 times for Vitesse and on 11 occasions for Derby across the last two campaigns.

Ibrahimovic won't solve Milan's problems – Rossi

November 23, 2019 | News | No Comments

While the move to get the Swede back to San Siro might get fans excited, he won’t solve the club’s long-term problems, one legendary striker has said

Zlatan Ibrahimovic would not be a cure to Milan’s problems, according to Paolo Rossi.

The former Sweden international attacker has been strongly linked with a move back to Serie A following a successful spell with the LA Galaxy in MLS, and though 38 years old, is still considered to be a player to get fans excited.

Rossi, a former Milan striker and a legendary hitman who led Italy to success at the 1982 World Cup, believes that supporters should not get too excited about Zlatan’s potential return to San Siro, where he played two seasons previously in the famous red and black colours before moving on to Paris Saint-Germain.

“I don’t know if he’s likely to come back,” Rossi said to Gazzetta dello Sport of the legendary Swede. “He is a player who has had an extraordinary career, but he cannot solve Milan’s problems. 

“They put a patch on one hole but the water comes out of many others. He would not be an investment useful for the future but only for the next six months. So what’s the use? Yes, he can give the team something, but Milan have many problems.”

Indeed, the Rossoneri lie a mere 14th in Serie A, posting six defeats and just 11 goals in their first 11 matches of the season. Despite a dire start to the season, Rossi believes the club were too quick to jettison head coach Marco Giampaolo, who was sacked in October to be replaced by Stefano Pioli.

“I am not the Milan manager but I believe that rebuilding the team is difficult,” he said. “Giampaolo was a courageous choice but then you have to give him the time to express his ideas. Now they must lead the team towards a decent position and lay the foundations for the future.”

Milan face a difficult challenge on Sunday, when they will travel to defending champions Juventus, another of Ibrahimovic’s former clubs, for their latest Serie A encounter, while after the international break they will play host to Champions League outfit Napoli, who lie seventh in the standings.

The governing bodies have been at odds in recent times regarding moving Primera Division matches outside of Spain

The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has demanded La Liga president Javier Tebas resigns for putting clubs at risk of “serious sporting and/or economic sanctions” after a judge shelved the league’s plan to host a match in Miami.

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La Liga had intended for Villarreal’s home match against Atletico Madrid on December 6 to be played in Florida, United States, but Madrid’s Mercantile Court ruled on Friday that the league is not permitted to act of its own accord and its actions “must be agreed and coordinated with the institution that directs football in Spain”.

A final decision is expected in February to determine whether the RFEF can prevent La Liga hosting matches in the United States.

But in the meantime, the RFEF is calling for the dismissal – or resignation – of La Liga chief Tebas for his conduct to the detriment of the Federation and putting clubs in a risky position.

A statement from RFEF read: “The request to the member clubs of La Liga to start a dialogue with the Federation is reiterated and the immediate dismissal of the president of La Liga or his immediate resignation is requested.

“The president of La Liga, Mr. Javier Tebas, has filed all kinds of lawsuits (criminal, civil, commercial, administrative) and appeals against the RFEF, in what is considered an attempt to justify his own mistakes.

“The leader of La Liga considers that he can act outside the Federation, however, judges, administration, etc … have found and communicated that this is not possible and that, without the authorisation of the RFEF, he cannot organise the soccer competitions in Spain.

“La Liga is a competition manager that must adapt its performance to the rules of FIFA, UEFA and RFEF. This attitude that can be considered a total disregard from the president of La Liga for the rules of FIFA, UEFA, as well as the RFEF, leading to an extremely serious situation and putting La Liga clubs themselves at risk.

“In the opinion of the RFEF, this attitude is ‘absolutely hostile and irresponsible’ against the institution that directs football in Spain and is causing damage to this sport and especially for clubs that are part of La Liga. It must cease immediately.”

Villarreal and Atletico had agreed for the match to be moved to Miami, with the two parties and La Liga submitting a joint request to RFEF on October 17, but in doing so, RFEF have told both clubs to expect “serious” sanctions from FIFA or UEFA.

La Liga struck a 15-year deal in 2018 with Relevent, the company behind the International Champions Cup, as it looked to take one match per season to the United States.

But RFEF and the Spanish Footballers’ Association (AFE) condemned the plan and in December Barcelona pulled out of a proposed match with Girona, initially scheduled for early 2019 in Miami.

Friday’s judgement comes just four days after RFEF finalised plans for the revamped Supercopa de Espana to take place in Saudi Arabia in each of the next three years, starting in February.

Gary and Colin Lewin spent two decades working at Arsenal – now the cousins are back together again after opening the Lewin Sports Injury Clinic

Just four minutes had gone when Martin Taylor clattered into Eduardo at Birmingham in February 2008 and inflicted an injury that remains fresh in the mind of everyone at Arsenal more than a decade later.

The look on Cesc Fabregas’ face as he glanced down at his stricken team-mate said it all.

He immediately screamed for Gary Lewin, the Arsenal physio, but by that time Lewin had already nearly reached the Croatian striker, whose fibula had fractured instantly.

“Your training takes over,” said Lewin. “The first thing to think about is if it’s either a life-threatening or limb-threatening injury. With Eduardo it was obvious it was a limb-threatening injury.

“Then you go through the process of stabilising and immobilising the injury, working out how you are going to get them off the pitch in the best way and controlling the pain.”

Eduardo was treated for nearly 10 minutes before being stretchered off. At that point Gary’s job had finished and it was time for his younger cousin Colin, who was also part of the Arsenal medical team at St Andrew’s, to take over.

He left the stadium with the striker, travelling to hospital in the ambulance alongside the paramedics.

“It was February 23, 2008,” recalls Colin. “I couldn’t tell you the dates of any cup finals, but I can tell you the date of Eduardo’s injury.

“We were weirdly lucky that day that the hospital they took us to was Selly Oak in Birmingham, which is where all the military come back to when they suffer their nasty war injuries.

“So there was this horrific ankle on the bed and the surgeon came in and was very flippant at what he was looking at. ‘Don’t worry about that, we’ll get that done tonight’ he said.

“We could have been at any hospital in the world, but fortunately we just happened to be taken to Selly Oak that day.”

What happened that afternoon in the Midlands was just one example of Gary and Colin Lewin working together.

The cousins spent more than a decade working in tandem at Arsenal before Gary moved on to join England on a full-time basis, with Colin replacing him as head physio at the Emirates Stadium.

Now, more than 10 years later, they are together again, with the pair opening a new sports injury clinic in Hainault, Essex.

“Although we’ve worked all our time in football, that doesn’t mean we haven’t worked in other aspects of sports medicine,” said Gary.

“What we really don’t want is someone to think this is a football clinic, it’s not. It’s a sports injury clinic that covers all sorts of sports medicine.

“This is our clinic and we’re working in it. That’s what we’re trying to get across, that it is me and Colin working here and we will be delivering the service for people that play weekend sport.”

Housed on the ground floor at 65 New North Road, the Lewin Sports Injury Clinic is purpose-built and offers the latest rehabilitation and sports medicine equipment.

Aaron Ramsey and Petr Cech are investors, while former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein and Dick Law, who spent 10 years working as Arsenal’s transfer and contract negotiator under Arsene Wenger before returning to America in 2018, have been advisors on the project.

Wenger himself has also had significant input

“The first thing to say is Dick has been brilliant,” said Colin. “Our business brain wasn’t the largest between us and Dick helped us out from the start and has been great.

“There’s been many an hour spent on the phone to Texas talking through business plans and various other bits and pieces. It’s been really great of Dick to do that.

“And Arsene was always encouraging us. He’s obviously very good friends with David Dein so was hearing about it through him as well as Dick. He gave us various bits of advice along the way.”

Gary added: “Arsene’s words were ‘why wouldn’t you do it with the experience and knowledge you’ve got?’.

“That really gave us the confidence to press forward. Then David and Dick’s involvement on the actual planning side of it gave us the foundations of a business we could firstly understand and could actually visualise where it would fit in.”

The clinic has been open for three weeks and, for both cousins, working outside of a strictly football environment has taken some getting used to.

Colin left Arsenal in May 2018 after he was sacked, a decision which abruptly ended his 23-year association with the club.

His sudden departure came during a major revamp at the Emirates following the announcement that Wenger would be stepping down.

“We went in having no idea it was going to happen,” said Colin. “Arsenal at the time had a high-performance director [Darren Burgess] who had been brought in from Australia the summer before. He made a decision to make some changes.

“So it came as a complete surprise. I was gone and I had three very good physios working with me who were told to apply for one job. Two of them politely told the club to poke it and the one fella who got the job by default ended up leaving a few weeks after that.

“So yes it was a shock. I didn’t see it coming at all.”

Colin added: “I found it really hard at first. The first two Premier League games of that new season I watched in a little bar in Portugal sat in the corner on my own because I just didn’t know what to do.

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“It was a horrible feeling after so long to have to watch a game and not be involved in it. It took me a long, long time to get back to wanting to watch Arsenal again, even though I had no ill feelings apart from against one or two individuals, who have now left.”

Gary left West Ham less than two weeks after Colin had been fired by Arsenal.

The 55-year-old had spent a season at the London Stadium after leaving his role within the England set-up, where he had been the Football Association’s head of physiotherapy services.

Gary worked at five World Cups during that time, including in 2014 when a bizarre incident in Brazil saw him famously end up in the treatment room himself.

Daniel Sturridge had just scored to draw England level against Italy in their opening group game of the competition and, in the celebrations that followed, Lewin’s left foot slipped into a gap between the astroturf around the technical area and the pitch itself.

His ankle dislocated and he fractured the fibula in two places, fractured the back of the tibia and also ruptured the ligament between the two bones.

“When I looked down my ankle was at 90 degrees,” he said. “It was a significant injury.

“The biggest problem I had was my wife was at home watching it on the TV and thought I’d had a cardiac arrest. I had to phone home to let her know she could put the insurance policies away and that I was still alive.”

* To find out more about the Lewin Sports Injury Clinic or to request a consultation, visit or call 0208 070 7777.

The former Gunners captain has not played since his spat with the club’s fans during a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace in October

Unai Emery has softened his stance on Granit Xhaka and could bring the midfielder back into the fold against Southampton this weekend.

The Switzerland star has not featured for Arsenal since telling fans to ‘f**k off’ as they jeered him from the field following his substitution against Crystal Palace on October 27.

Xhaka has since been stripped of the captaincy by Emery – who prior to the international break had admitted that the 27-year-old may have played his final game for the club and that talks had taken place about possibly moving him on in January.

“I don’t know if he’s going to play again,” said Emery. “If he is available in his mind to continue helping us and continuing defending the Arsenal shirt, I think time gives us that solution.

“The club knows my idea about that situation and the circumstances.”

But ahead of Saturday’s game with Southampton, Emery has hinted that it could be time for Xhaka to return and will make a decision on whether to include him in the squad on Friday.

The pair held talks at London Colney after Xhaka had reported back from international duty and Arsenal’s head coach was impressed by the midfielder’s mindset.

“He told me he is very convinced to help the team,” said Emery. “Our first game is Saturday and I am going to decide if it is a good moment [to bring him back] or if we need more time to help him.

“At the moment it’s important how he feels. Now he is feeling better and he feels he can come back and help us and also come back and connecting with the team and with the supporters.”

Xhaka played both games for Switzerland during the international break, even scoring in the 6-1 win against Gibraltar.

And with Dani Ceballos now ruled out until next month with a hamstring injury, his availability could come as a boost for Emery – who is under increasing pressure following a run of five games without a win.

But Arsenal’s head coach is aware that Xhaka’s relationship with the fans will not be easily repaired and it could be easier to bring him back into the squad for an away game.

“Maybe, but it depends,” he said, when asked whether it would be better for Xhaka to return away from the Emirates. “If we can show good performance collectively and individually, we are going to do better. In this situation, it is better to do it with him on the pitch.

“But I am going to do it progressively, I am going to do it also giving him good feeling being with us.

“It could be at home, it could be away. For me the most important is to achieve the performance collectively.”

Emery was also keen to highlight Hector Bellerin as an example of a player who has managed to get the fans back on his side.

The right-back found himself as a target for the boo boys during a defeat at Crystal Palace in 2017, but is now one of the most popular players in the squad.

“Hector told me he struggled here with the supporters sometimes when his performance was not the best,” said Emery. “Sometimes playing at the Emirates or away.

“Also we have had some other players who have had that situation. They have come back and with Xhaka I want the same.

“The first question is don’t forget his mistake, but he can come back showing his commitment, his good behaviour and good performances, helping and defending the Arsenal team.

“That is the objective. He is a good guy, a good player and he loves and respects Arsenal a lot – but knows he made a mistake.”

The Argentine was forced out of San Siro but has already netted seven goals in just eight outings in Paris to take Edinson Cavani’s starting spot

Just a few short months ago, Mauro Icardi’s career appeared to be going nowhere fast.

Stripped of the Inter captaincy at the start of 2019 after he and his wife Wanda fell spectacularly out of favour at San Siro, the Argentine saw his place in the Nerazzurri line-up taken by young compatriot Lautaro Martinez.

Antonio Conte’s arrival at San Siro did nothing to improve his prospects of remaining in his beloved Milan, as the new coach quickly moved for Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez to strengthen his attack.

The former was even given Icardi’s No.9 jersey. As with the decision to take away the armband, Icardi was given no prior warning. The message was clear: he was no longer welcome at Inter.

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Icardi was willing to leave, but only for Juventus and the Nerazzurri had no intention of strengthening their bitter rivals. An impasse ensued and just when it appeared that Icardi was going to spend the season in the stands at the Giuseppe Meazza, a deadline-day loan move to Paris Saint-Germain was arranged.

Even then, Icardi’s future looked grim. Indeed, given the incredible attacking depth boasted by Thomas Tuchel’s men, the striker’s prospects of regular first-team football in 2019-20 seemed extremely slim.

But fortune smiled on the loanee, and he has grabbed his chance with both hands.

A spate of early-season injuries to the likes of Neymar and Edinson Cavani thrust Icardi into the spotlight and his enviable goalscoring instincts mean he is now shining on centre-stage.

With seven goals in just eight games so far, the 26-year-old is PSG’s second-top scorer, just behind the phenomenal Kylian Mbappe.

Icardi’s arrival and a brilliant start to the season from Angel Di Maria have been key to the Ligue 1 side’s success, especially in the Champions League, where they have raced to three consecutive wins to lead Group A ahead of Real Madrid, whom they routed 3-0 at the Parc des Princes.

“Icardi is very reliable for us. He scores goals, he is super. He works hard and is very disciplined,” Tuchel beamed to reporters following Icardi’s two-goal haul against Club Brugge in October. “He controls the ball and he is very tactically intelligent.

“Edi [Cavani] also works hard when he plays. We have the talent to play the same way without Edi.”

On-field prowess has admittedly never been an issue for Icardi, of course. For years he almost single-handedly kept an underwhelming Inter side afloat with his prolific goalscoring while those around him floundered, even while taking flak from the stands.

Of course, it is primarily the Argentine’s off-field lifestyle which provokes so many observers. While other players’ private lives generally remain just that, the fact that Icardi married Wanda Nara, the ex-wife of his former team-mate Maxi Lopez, still causes waves.

Wanda also acts as her husband’s agent, another fact that the testosterone-fuelled world of football seems to have a hard time digesting.

The ex-model may be a pushy negotiator and prone to questionable public outbursts on her client’s behalf, but then so are Neymar Sr, Mino Raiola and indeed most of the game’s top representatives, who receive only a fraction of the negative press that sticks to the Icardis.

“I realise it is a taboo that she was married to my ex-team-mate, but we fell in love and you do not choose who you fall in love with,” Maurito explained to Canal +.

“I think that having her as my agent is the best decision for my family and career. I did not hesitate. I am someone who treats men and women equally. I have three sons and two daughters but I treat them the same and give them the same gifts.

“I have been with Wanda for seven years, she is a celebrity and so am I, so we are clearly conscious of what that implies. That does not change my way of thinking or how I play; otherwise, I couldn’t have scored 150 goals at Inter.”

Nor, if Icardi’s early form at PSG is any indication, will it prove any obstacle to hitting the net in France.

He will have another chance to add to his tally on Wednesday as Brugge visit Parc des Princes, where another win would seal early qualification to the Champions League last 16.

His future may have looked bleak at the depths of his Inter hell, but he has responded in the best possible way: with goals, and lots of them.

Now, PSG are already reportedly considering paying the purchase option to turn what has proven a dream transfer to date into a permanent deal.

Icardi stated on Tuesday, “I will do anything to stay here.” Merely continuing to let his football do the talking for once should do the trick.

The Three Lions coach admits the Leicester City star needs to put recent controversy behind him

England manager Gareth Southgate urged James Maddison to become a “low-maintenance” player for the national team.

The uncapped Leicester City star, 22, was named in England’s squad for this month’s Euro 2020 qualifiers against Montenegro and Kosovo.

Maddison, who has three goals and two assists in the Premier League this season, was pictured in a casino after pulling out of the last squad due to illness.

Southgate said the attacker needed to remain focused as he tries to cement a spot in the England setup.

“It’s not a good situation for a player when we’re talking about him in Sofia, and talking about him here and he’s yet to get on the pitch for us,” he told UK newspapers.

“So, that’s the challenge. You want to be high-performance, low-maintenance. I am prepared to work with players who are more difficult but you’re more likely to back those players if they’ve scored a winner for you and sweated blood for you, and that’s the bond you build with those players over a longer period of time.”

England are top of Group A in Euro 2020 qualifying, sitting three points clear of the second-placed Czech Republic.

Maddison could make his England debut this month, but Southgate revealed he felt no need to call the midfielder before his latest call-up.

“I didn’t feel the need to make a special case to call him. I wanted to see whether we would be selecting on form,” he said.

“I think it would be dangerous territory for me to go on a moral crusade over something that I don’t think was a good decision but was in his own time and we had released him from the squad.”

England host Montenegro at Wembley on Thursday before facing Kosovo in Pristina three days later.