Inter Milan sporting director Piero Ausilio has insisted that the club's decision to strip Mauro Icardi of the captaincy should not been seen as the striker being pushed towards the San Siro exit.
The Argentina international was informed earlier this week that Samir Handanovic will wear the armband for the time being as talks over a new contract drag on.
Icardi, who was also left out of the squad to face Rapid Vienna in the Europa League on Thursday evening, has a little over two years to run on his existing deal and has been strongly touted as a target for Juventus.
Ausilio says that taking the 25-year-old off captaincy duties was a tough choice for Inter to make, but it is one they stand by and is not linked to the protracted contract talks between the two parties.
"A decision was made that everyone agreed with, and it was a painful one to make," he told Sky Sport Italia. "The reasons are serious and valid; there's nothing to explain.
"Mauro remains important to us. He still has a lot to give to Inter. We are not questioning him as a professional or as a striker, which is why I hope he stays with us for a long time yet. 'Us' is the key word here and must always prevail for the good of the club and the changing room.
"We have taken measures - and it's the last thing we would have wanted to do - after letting something slide in the past. It might seem like a step backwards, but in terms of the future it's 10 steps forward.
"We'll speak with Icardi, although it's not right to speak of talks to clear the air because he's never been put in discussion and he's a great player. If he likes, we'll set conditions to follow. Contract discussions have in no way been affected by these events - it's a totally different subject."
Icardi has scored 109 Serie A goals for Inter since joining from Sampdoria in 2013.