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 By Ben Gladwell

Mauro Icardi: Inter Milan's strong start 'nothing to do with luck'

Inter Milan captain Mauro Icardi says it is no coincidence that the Nerazzurri are doing so well this season, saying that the atmosphere at the club has changed.

Inter spent Tuesday night at the top of the table, before Napoli's win over Genoa saw them return there on Wednesday, but with just two points separating them from the league leaders, Inter are being considered as serious title challengers again this season.

One of the reasons, according to Icardi, is the arrival of Luciano Spalletti and the return of a positive atmosphere which he says has been missing in recent years, particularly in the second half of last season.

"It's nothing to do with luck," Icardi said in an interview with Undici magazine. "We worked really well in preseason and everything changed. The coach is very attentive and we all have the same objective in our minds, which is what everybody is asking for, from the club to the president, right down to the very last person: we need to get back into the Champions League.

"Last year, in March -- after the international break -- we all came back a bit lost. I was angry at the time and would come back home in a bad mood."

Mauro Icardi has already scored 11 goals in Serie A this season.

Now, Icardi is looking to the future with renewed optimism and with a degree of pride at being captain of a club challenging for trophies once again.

"Being captain of this team is not difficult for me," said the 24-year-old. "I've got the personality to be able to do it. This is my mission and I am proud of it. I see myself here for a long time. I want to win something with this shirt.

"I'm not going to be in football when I am 40, though -- not like [Francesco] Totti. I'm not going to be a coach or a director -- they are not roles that I would like. I think I'll just become a full-time dad, at home, with my family."

Icardi joined Inter four years ago, saying that it was the club's former president Massimo Moratti "who wanted me the most," adding that he "signed me from [Sampdoria] and was the one who insisted on getting me the most."

The Argentine forward scored his 100th goal in Serie A -- his 11th of the current season -- in Inter's 3-2 win over Sampdoria at the weekend.

Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.

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