Back in 2008, a young Argentine prospect called Mauro Icardi left his home country and headed for Barcelona. The Blaugrana scouts had seen potential in the striker and decided to take a chance to see if he could follow in the footsteps of some of the club’s greatest players.
While he was there, he became friends with one of his fellow countrymen, a fleet-footed striker nine years his senior called Maximiliano “Maxi” Gastón López. The latter had been at the Camp Nou since 2005, but was failing to hold down a first-team place and was subsequently sent out on-loan to Real Mallorca before signing a two-year deal with Russian side FC Moscow.
In 2008, Lopez married Argentine showgirl Wanda Nara, someone who the young Icardi knew a little about, having been invited to the couple’s house for the annual summer BBQs so common with South American footballers, and he was happy that his friend had finally found the woman of his dreams.
Problem was, young Mauro quickly discovered that she had become the woman of his dreams too, but in January 2011, he was loaned to Italian side Sampdoria where he signed a permanent deal later that summer and Wanda (it seemed) would be just a distant memory.
Imagine his surprise then, when in 2012, after spells with Catania and AC Milan, his friend López arrived at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris along with Wanda and their three kids to reunite this Argentine ménage à trois. It was time to get the charcoal out once again.
Icardi, now a little older and with hormones that were bristling with excitement, realised his feelings for Wanda had grown even stronger since they had last been in each other’s company. Three years of waking up to a sticky duvet had taken its toll and when he discovered Wanda, six years his senior, had the same feelings about him, the two began a steamy affair.
Of course, it wasn’t long before word got out that Mauro’s away form was much better than that at home. The Italian media started having a field day as more sordid tales emerged. López was heartbroken that his one-time best mate only had eyes for his missus and was no longer interested in the quality of his chargrilled steaks.
With the López marriage in tatters, it was clear that the two men could no longer play for the same team and Inter Milan, seizing an opportunity, offered young Icardi a way out. In the summer of 2013, he joined the Nerrazzurri for just over £11M.
What Mauro had left behind in Genoa, however, was total carnage. As Maxi López spent more time on the front cover of the Italian version of ‘Hello’ magazine than he did on the pages of Gazzetta dello Sport, Wanda began divorce proceedings in December 2013, an event reminiscent of ‘Dirty’ Den Watt’s memorable separation from Angie in EastEnders back in the mid-eighties.
The whole of Italy were glued to their televisions on April 13, 2014, the day that Sampdoria hosted Inter in a game that has gone down in history as ‘The Wanda Derby’. The two men refused to shake hands before the start and only Icardi (and Wanda) was left smiling at the end after his double had helped Inter to a 4-0 win.
López had a shocker for the home side and his world was crumbling around him. That summer he headed to Verona, signing for Chievo in an attempt to make a new start. A month earlier, Icardi and Wanda had got married back in Buenos Aires. Within a couple of years, the newlyweds had two daughters and López, who had now moved back to Argentina, was a distant memory, or so they thought.
When Inter qualified for the Champions League for the first time since 2012, with virtually the last kick of their last game against Lazio in May 2018, little did we know that fate was about to intervene, placing the Nerazzurri in the same group as Barcelona, a scenario that was bound to open old wounds.
The gloves were off again, and before their first meeting at the Camp Nou two weeks ago, López, who is now seeing out the rest of his playing days at Vasco da Gama, decided, along with his solicitor, to strike the first blow by claiming that Wanda had unlawfully disclosed his personal information online and therefore should be sent to prison for four years.
Wanda, who is now Icardi’s agent, lapped up the publicity and used the press to her advantage. She was spotted shopping in Milan just days after her hubby had scored the winner in the derby, with a brand new screensaver of Mauro, having been filmed snogging him shortly after the final whistle in what was a clear attempt to wind up her ex.
After Barcelona had beaten Inter 2-0 at the Camp Nou, López retaliated with an Instagram post of himself when he was a Barca player and one of his children dressed in a Blaugrana shirt, but the 34-year-old, who seems to always end up as the loser, had to read this week that Nara had been cleared after the courts ruled there was insufficient evidence to suggest any wrongdoing on her part.
His only retaliation was to explain to Italian journal Corriere della Sport that he has taught his kids to hate Inter Milan, but as the two sides get set to go head to head once again at San Siro, don’t be surprised if this real life soap opera tale takes yet another bizarre twist.