Mauro Icardi: a lion born to roar
After Mauro Icardi signed a permanent deal with Paris Saint-Germain, join us in taking a look at his first months in the French capital.
Last to arrive in September 2019, first in ahead of the next season, Mauro Icardi will be just as eagerly awaited in Paris for the 2020-21 campaign.
The arrival of the forward from Inter Milan last summer was a great way to round off the transfer window, and brought the club another fabulous Argentine talent - the 16th in the club's history - in the footsteps of the likes of Bianchi, Di Maria, Pochettino and Sorin.
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By bringing in Série A's top scorer, Italy's Player of the Year in 2018, and the scorer of 124 goals for the Nerazzurri, Paris Saint-Germain had themselves a bona fide goalscorer.
It didn't take him long to show his worth. He played just 28 minutes on his debut against Strasbourg, but he dropped off to gain possession and then found Abdou Diallo with the pass that allowed Neymar to score the matchwinner. He started the next game...against Real Madrid. He led the line for an hour, and was involved in the build-up to the first goal, playing in Juan Bernat.
He was back in the starting XI for another European date, this time against Galatasaray. In the white-hot Istanbul atmosphere, he kept his cool to score his first Parisian goal after great approach work from Angel Di Maria and Pablo Sarabia.
He found the net again against Angers, at the time second in the league. Neymar and Sarabia were this time the architects as Icardi scored once more.
Following a short international break, he played a full 90 minutes for the first time against Nice. He set up Di Maria for the opener, and then put the finishing touch himself on a 4-1 win.
Three months after his arrival, he became the first player to score seven goals in his first seven league games since Mario Balotelli in 2016. After 18 games, he had 14 goals for the French champions, including a brace in the 4-0 Classique win over Marseille. It also made him the club's fastest player to 10 goals, knocking Zlatan Ibrahimovic off that particular perch.
"I'm really proud to do those kinds of things and to mark the history of a club like PSG. I try to always be prepared and always be an option for my teammates with my movement and runs so that they can pass to an unmarked player. In the penalty box, a striker has to score goals. I'm always ready and focussed so I can get my shot off as quickly as possible when I get the ball, " he told us.
Imperious domestically, he ruled joyously in Europe too, scoring five times in six continental showdowns.
A profile in demand
A prolific 'fox in the box', a willing runner for his teammates and with the ability to make the most of the tightest of spaces and a minimum of chances, it's no wonder the Paris number 18 is a man both his teammates and coach Thomas Tuchel find good use for.
His tactical awareness is also a major asset, while his express integration into the squad is all the more impressive given his pre-season preparation with his teammates was nil.
Another eye-opening aspect of his game is the fact he does not touch the ball often, but when he does, he makes the most of it. For every six touches inside the penalty area, he scores a goal. Overall, Icardi nets a goal every 24 touches in Ligue 1, and 22 (yes, twenty-two!) in the Champions League, the best ratio of any first-choice goalgetter Europe-wide.
There's a goal every three shots in Ligue 1, every two in the Champions League. Just let that sink in...
So yes, it's been an impressive first season. And if Paris Saint-Germain have made the decision to make his move permanent, it's because they expect there's a lot more to come from Mauro Icardi. Bet you cannot wait!