Mauro Icardi: Serie A’s Rising Star (video)

Some have prematurely named him “the next Lionel Messi”. While at the age of 19 this comparison may appear a little unfair, there are definite similarities between the world’s greatest player and former Barcelona team-mate Mauro Icardi.

On the 27th of January, the world of football once again gasped in admiration as Messi scored 4 goals against Osasuna, becoming the youngest ever player in La Liga to reach the 200 goal milestone. Only in Italy, Messi’s landmark was trumped by another quadruple haul as Mauro Icardi hit 4 against Pescara for Sampdoria in a 6-0 romp.

Yet both Messi and Icardi have more in common than their impressive goal tally that weekend. Like Messi, Icardi too hails from Rosario, Argentina’s third largest city.  Furthermore, Icardi is also a product of Barcelona’s famous La Masia academy, albeit he did not join Barca until the age of 15.

However, unlike Messi, Icardi felt that having to compete with some of world football’s most prodigious talents his opportunities in the first team at the Nou Camp would be severely limited. As a result, Icardi sought out a loan move to Serie A club Sampdoria in January 2011, perhaps owing to his Italian heritage. The player has an Italian passport, Spanish nationality and having been born in Argentina, may shortly have the demand of 3 footballing powerhouses for his international services.

Icardi’s loan spell in Italy was a successful one, as the teenage striker scored 13 goals in 19 goals for Sampdoria’s “Primavera” team over a 6 month period. As a result, the Genoan club elected to make the loan deal a permanent one, signing Icardi for just 400,000 Euros in July 2011. Icardi had to wait almost a full season before making his first team debut however, coming off the bench to score the winner as Samp recorded a 2-1 victory in May 2012 over Juve Stabia while chasing promotion from Serie B.

Sampdoria achieved promotion to Serie A last season, yet Icardi has featured in the first team on a more regular basis this term and has scored 7 goals in just 10 starts for I Blucerchiati. On more than one occasion this year, Icardi has grabbed the headlines on the front page of La Gazzetta dello Sport. He became an instant hero with the Sampdoria faithful when in his first top flight start, Icardi scored the third in a 3-1 victory over fierce city rivals Genoa. The teenage sensation then enhanced his growing reputation with a brace against champions and league leaders Juventus, the Turin giants succumbing to a rare home defeat as Icardi’s Sampdoria ran out 2-1 winners.

His recent 4 goal performance provoked the interest of fellow Serie A clubs Napoli and Inter Milan over the January transfer window, yet Mauro Icardi seems set to stay at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris until the end of the season at least, as he attempts to save his club from yet another relegation to Serie B.

Icardi may not quite be at the level of compatriot Lionel Messi yet, nor may never reach the 4 time Ballon D’or winner’s standards, however what can be sure is that we are likely to hearing the name “Mauro Icardi” a lot more often in the near future.