Icardi, a new challenge

From Argentina to France via Spain and Italy, take a closer look at the scenic and spectacular route Mauro Icardi has taken to Paris Saint-Germain.

Mauro Emanuel Icardi was born on 19 February, 1993, in Rosario, the same hometown as Angel Di Maria. In a football-mad country, he first started playing at Club Infantil Sarratea before — at the age of 9 — heading with his parents to the Canary Islands. With the club of Santa Lucia de Tirajana, the young forward began to catch the eye, hardly surprising given he scored nearly 400 goals. It earned him the nickname El Aguila (The Eagle) and the attention of some of Europe's biggest clubs.

At 16 years old, Icardi decided to follow in the footsteps of another Rosario native, Lionel Messi, and join Barcelona's famed youth academy, La Masia. He was there for two-and-a-half seasons before going on loan to Unione Calcio Sampdoria at the start of 2011. In Italy, he mostly featured with the Primavera — the reserve — team for whom he scored 13 times in 19 games, and also played in Serie B (1 goal in 2 appearances). Those stats convinced the Genoa club, who had won promotion to Serie A, to make Icardi's move permanent that summer.

He quickly got used to the step up in quality. In his first top-flight season, he scored ten goals and teed up four more in 31 league games, persuading Inter Milan he was their man. He moved there in 2013, and quickly settled in, earning his first international cap against Uruguay in Montevideo on 15 October, 2013 in a 3-2 defeat that came courtesy of a late Edinson Cavani winner.

In Milan, he found the net nine times and had two assists in 23 competitive appearances in his first season in the iconic black-and-blue shirt, and did even better in his second: 48 matches, 27 goals, seven assists. Twenty-two of those goals came in Serie A, earning him the title of the Italian top-flight's leading scorer, an honour he shared with Hellas Verona's Luca Toni. He became so influential, he was named Inter's captain, and found the armband no burden as he racked up 16 goals and four assists in 34 games in 2015/16 and then 26 and eight in 41 in 2016/17. The following season, he finished Serie A top scorer with 29 (level with Lazio's Ciro Immobile), and was even named the league's player of the year.

On 18 March, 2018, against his former club Sampdoria, he became the youngest player to reach the 100-goal milestone in Serie A in the 21st century, aged 25 years and 27 days. The next season was impressive too with 17 goals and five assists in 37 matches, and he scored his first goal for Argentina in a 2-0 defeat of Mexico on 21 November, 2018. Since making his Serie A debut in 2012/13, he has scored 121 goals, a record no-one can match. With 124 competitive strikes for Inter, he is their eighth-highest goalscorer of all time…it's those statistics which have convinced Paris Saint-Germain to make a move for him. After Argentina, Spain and Italy, it's now time for a new challenge in France for Mauro Icardi.