At 19 years old, the Argentine forward is one of the hottest and brightest young prospects in Serie A, and has reportedly been targeted by a number of big clubs, including Napoli, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham and Liverpool. He’s scored seven goals in 17 league appearances this season, and leads Sampdoria in scoring headed into this weekend’s schedule of Serie A games.
He’s special because
He’s an explosive and dangerous goal-scorer who many are already comparing to Argentina legend Gabriel Batistuta. He’s shown great maturity beyond his young age and he has a deft touch, and at five-feet-eleven-inches, he fits the mould of the classic centre forward who finishes off scoring chances.
At the age of nine, he moved to Spain with his parents and settled in Tenerife where he played with local youth team Vecindario. Barcelona soon took notice of his exploits, and he joined La Masia, the Catalan club’s famous youth academy. But after a few years he couldn’t break through to Barcelona’s senior team, and in January of 2011, Italian outfit Sampdoria took him on loan with an option to buy him outright, which the Genoa club soon exercised. Icardi started out with Sampdoria’s youth team before graduating to the senior side that same year, making his debut in Serie B. He helped Sampdoria earn promotion, and he made his Serie A debut last September against AS Roma.
He’s played a handful of games for Argentina’s under-20 side, but he hasn’t been capped at senior level. And here’s where it gets interesting, as Icardi is eligible to play for Argentina (his country of birth), Spain (where he grew up) and Italy (he holds an Italian passport). Icardi has said he wants to play for Argentina, but Italy manager Cesare Prandelli has had conversations with the Argentine and hinted that they came to some kind of understanding. So who will Icardi end up representing at international level? Stay tuned.
Here’s a few interesting facts
He was born in Rosario, which just happens to be Lionel Messi’s hometown… Icardi is only the third player in Sampdoria history and the first since Sergio Brighenti (more than 50 years ago) to score four goals in one game… He’s also the fifth youngest player in Serie A history to score four goals in a game… His soccer idol growing up was Argentine striker Gabriel Batistuta… He scored his first Serie A goal last November in Sampdoria’s win over city rivals Genoa… While at La Masia, Messi mentored Icardi and the two became friends… He marked his debut for Sampdoria (then playing in Serie B) in May 2012 by scoring the winning goal against Juve Stabia… When he first signed with Barcelona as a 14-year-old, more than a few newspapers in Argentina ran the headline: “Barcelona sign the new Messi.”
His most famous moment
There are actually two that stand out, and they both occurred last month. On Jan. 6, Icardi scored twice as 10-man Sampdoria posted a massive 2-1 upset win over Juventus in Turin. Three weeks later, Icardi scored four goals in Sampdoria’s 6-0 win to lift the Genoa-based club out of the relegation zone.
He said it
On scoring against Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon: “I would never have imagined that I would score two goals past Buffon, a player who I admired as a kid.”
What they’re saying about him
“In terms of characteristics, I’d say Icardi is the new Batistuta.” — Abian Moreno, Icradi’s agent