Soccer notebook: Nicolo Barella’s Inter Milan renewal, Sergio Aguero’s heart scare, more underrated storylines

Another week in European soccer is almost up and we have been spoiled once again by a feast of excellent games across the UEFA Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League — all on Paramount+ — with plenty more mouth-watering fixtures coming up this weekend before the final international break of the year.

As always, with so much going on, you may well have missed some stories, so we are here to catch you up on some of the bigger headlines which have flown in largely undetected.

Inter’s Barella extends

Inter Milan have announced that Nicolo Barella has extended his contract until 2026. The Italy international helped the Azzurri to Euro 2020 glory this summer and the Serie A champions have added years to the 24-year-old’s deal at Giuseppe Meazza.

“FC Internazionale Milano is delighted to announce that Nicolo Barella has signed a contract extension with the club,” read a statement. “The 24-year-old midfielder’s new deal will run until 30 June 2026.”

Aguero concern

Sergio Aguero’s delayed start to life with Barcelona suffered another setback after he was ruled out for several months after being substituted vs. Alaves with chest discomfort and dizziness which ultimately required cardiac tests to detect an irregular heartbeat.

“Barça player Kun Aguero has been subjected to a diagnostic and therapeutic process by Dr. Josep Brugada,” read a club statement. “He is unavailable for selection and during the next three months the effectiveness of treatment will be evaluated in order to determine his recovery process.”

Damsgaard dampener

Sampdoria’s Mikkel Damsgaard also faces a lengthy spell out after undergoing knee surgery after developing a problem when last on international duty with Denmark against Austria. Yet to feature again in Serie A since, he finally underwent surgery which should now have corrected the problem.

Plea future

Borussia Monchengladbach’s Alassane Plea could be on the market soon with agent Stephane Courbis admitting that he needs to speak with the German club’s sporting director Max Eberl before the end of the year to work out what the France international’s future will be.

“The situation is difficult for Alassane,” said Courbis to Sport Bild. “We will update ourselves with Max (Eberl) in December and discuss the situation and his future.”

Plea is under contract until 2023 but it is not certain that he will extend that deal further and the 28-year-old has scored twice in nine Bundesliga appearances so far this season.

Palsson relief

Unfortunately, another cardiac-related story as Emil Palsson was taken ill 12 minutes into Sogndal’s Norwegian second division clash with Stjordals-Blink and the 28-year-old Icelandic midfielder was “successfully resuscitated” and flown to a nearby hospital for further treatment.

Denmark and Inter Milan’s Christian Eriksen is yet to play again since collapsing during Euro 2020 and receiving life-saving treatment as he suffered cardiac arrest and has since had a heart starter fitted.

Puel’s police escort

Saint-Etienne general manager Claude Puel needed a police escort home last weekend after the ailing French giants drew 1-1 with FC Metz to make it 12 matches without a win in Ligue 1 this season.

Ultras confronted the 60-year-old and the players upon their return and the squad was blocked from leaving as Puel’s resignation was demanded until the group was allowed to move after 20 minutes with police escorting the bus and then the manager home.

This weekend’s clash with Clermont Foot 63 is key and it require an outrageous Wahbi Khazri strike to tie with Metz which opened another can of worms with the LFP unable to share the sensational strike via social media because of the complicated broadcasting agreements.

Under current rules, highlights only become available from the early hours of Monday to ensure that no agreements are infringed upon.

Cisse: ‘Ben Arfa is Messi’

Djibril Cisse has told Soyons Foot that Hatem Ben Arfa was as good as Lionel Messi in his prime with the former France international stating that the 34-year-old free agent’s technique was among the best he ever saw on a pitch.

“Technically, Hatem,” said Cisse. “I might seem crazy, but I think that Ben Arfa at a good level is as good as a Messi. I have seen him do things … I will say it again, Hatem, at his best, is Messi.”

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