Celtic clash is Premier League audition for in-demand star
Celtic’s fine home form in Europe will be put to the test for the first time this season when Inter Milan come calling at Parkhead and one man in particular will be keen to make a good impression on the Bhoys this Thursday night.
Mauro Icardi is a name no doubt familiar to most fans with the Argentine the subject of near-daily speculation linking him with moves to some of the Premier League’s elite.
And despite Inter Milan’s protestations, it would not be a massive shock to see the Nerazzurri striker swap Italy for England this summer with Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool all thought to be keen on the 21-year-old.
Born in Rosario, Icardi spent three years as a youngster at Barcelona, with the Catalans fighting off interest from Real Madrid and Arsenal among others to land the South American.
But with game time limited at the Camp Nou, Icardi opted to turn what had initially been a loan move to Sampdoria in 2011 into something a little more permanent.
The Italian side jumped at the chance to sign the striker for a bargain €400,000, after seeing him score 13 goals in 19 appearances for i Blucerchiati’s youth side.
Icardi went into the Sampdoria first team from the start of the 2012-13 season and immediately impressed, with a return of 10 goals in 31 games for il Doria impressing Inter, who paid €6m to land the forward.
A return of 18 goals in 29 games for a struggling Nerazzurri side this season has turned plenty of heads with Manchester United among those sending scouts out to watch the striker.
Speaking this week, the 21-year-old also appeared to be open to the idea of a move to England.
“If the ones [reports of interest] about United, Chelsea and Liverpool were real, I would be honoured, because they are big clubs, but I’m already in a great team where I can win something important,” he said.
A goal against Celtic could be a fine place for Icardi to start, with Celtic defensively vulnerable in the Europa League so far this season.
The Bhoys have kept just one clean sheet in this competition so far this season and shipped 11 goals in the group phase – the most of any team to progress to the knockout phase.
Icardi, meanwhile, goes into the fixture off the back of a run of four goals in his last five games and has already scored four times in Europe for Inter this term.
Another goal at Celtic Park and it could be destination Premier League for the 21-year-old.
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