When Roberto Mancini was spotted watching Sampdoria beat Roma earlier in the month, the biggest story to come from the trip was the speculation that the Italian manager was close to the exit at Manchester City, and monitoring the position at Roma, who recently sacked Zdenek Zeman.
However Mancini could well have been there to check on the progress of Mauro Icardi, as the 19 year old striker has drawn plenty of attention with his goal-scoring exploits in recent weeks.
Since the turn of the year, Icardi has seven goals in six Serie A appearances including a match-winning brace away at Juventus, and a four goal haul in Sampdoria's 6-0 home win over Pescara. With rumours that Italy are seeking to try and tempt Icardi away from native Argentina, it's clear that the striker is in high demand at several levels.
Inter had reportedly agreed a €15 million fee for Icardi, who would move to the San Siro at the end of the season, but Sampdoria have since denied any deal has been done for the player, and there is plenty of interest from the Premier League that they will hope could drive his price up further.
Manchester City have shown the most interest in making a move for Icardi, but Tottenham Hotpsur reportedly have a longstanding interest in him, and Liverpool are the latest English side to join the race. Much will now depend on how Icardi responds on the pitch to the rumours surrounding his future, and it's worth noting that he is far from the finished article.
Although Icardi has a decent eight goals in eighteen appearances, the fact that all of his goals have come in four appearances shows he is not yet a consistent goal scorer. Without the four goals against whipping boys Pescara, Icardi's stats look pretty average.
However he is young, and the brace against Juventus marked him out as someone who can score against the best. Sampdoria won that game 2-1 despite going in at half time a goal and a man down to the defending champions, and Icardi's performances was central to the win.
Whether he is worth €15 million is matter for debate right now, but Icardi could increase that fee significantly if he maintains his current form for the rest of the season, and if three Premier League teams end up fighting it out for the player, then the young striker could be one of the biggest moves of the summer.
image: © lucadea