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Duarte: Reasons to cheer, jeer Brazil

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Mauro Icardi: Italy never an option

Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi said representing Italy had never been an option as he seeks to pick up his first cap for Argentina.

Mauro Icardi holds off Fabricio Coloccini in training.
Mauro Icardi holds off Fabricio Coloccini in training.

Rosario-born Icardi has been included in Alejandro Sabella’s squad to face Peru in Buenos Aires and Uruguay in Montevideo over the coming week, but the 20-year-old has Italian relatives and could instead have opted to play for the Azzurri.

Mauro Camoranesi, Thiago Motta and Amauri are some of the most recent examples of players who were born in South America but pulled on an Azzurro shirt by gaining an Italian passport, and Icardi had received praise from Italy coach Cesare Prandelli.

However, the forward told Argentina’s TyC Sports: “It’s gratifying to hear what Prandelli had to say about me, but I’m Argentinean and I want to play with these colours, maybe even at the World Cup.”

He added: “Everybody knows I am Argentinean and the only Italian thing about me is my passport. I’ve always waited for this moment. I’ve played for the youth selections and now to wear the shirt of my senior national team is a dream and an achievement.”

The 20-year-old former Barcelona forward received the call up due to the injury-enforced absence of Lionel Messi but hopes he can make an impression on Sabella.

“I’m here because Messi’s injured, but I’ll try to make the most of this opportunity,” he said. “It’s not going to be easy because Argentina have some fantastic forwards, all world-class, but I’ll try to take any chance I’m given to convince the coach to take me to Brazil.”

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