Inter ‘close’ to agreeing new & improved contract with Nicolo Barella

Inter are ‘close’ to agreeing a new contract with key midfielder and Euro 2020 winner Nicolo Barella, chief executive Giuseppe Marotta has confirmed.

Barella’s current deal at San Siro still has almost three years left to run, but the player has become a major asset since his permanent transfer from Cagliari in 2020 and his higher status within the squad deserves to be recognised accordingly.

Despite an initial point in the early summer where a departure looked likely, Inter have also been in advanced contract talks with Lautaro Martinez for some time. Marcelo Brozovic is another in line for a new deal, despite recent speculation linking the Croatian with a transfer to Chelsea.

“Barella and Lautaro will extend their contract with a pay rise, we are close. Brozovic’s contract is expiring, it will take more time, but I am confident,” Marotta told Corriere della Sera this week.

Barella initially joined Inter on loan in 2019, with an obligation to make the transfer permanent the following year. He missed only two Serie A games last season as the Nerazzurri won a first scudetto in more than a decade – one of those was after the title was already won.

The player then went on to have an important role for Italy at Euro 2020, starting every game except for the group stage dead rubber against Wales.

Barella has since started every game for Inter this season in Serie A and the Champions League and already has six assists to his name in just eight domestic matches so far – only three fewer than his final Serie A tally for the whole of last season.

Also this week, Marotta publicly questioned Romelu Lukaku’s motives for leaving Inter, suggesting the Belgian was chasing a big pay day when he returned to former club Chelsea.

“Lukaku was sold for €115m and we bought Dzeko for free,” the club chief said. “On the pitch, there isn’t much difference. Lukaku left to double his salary, in Italy these figures can’t exist.”

For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!

Thomas Tuchel clarifies Erling Haaland comments: ‘I fell into a trap’

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel has admitted he ‘fell into a trap’ when discussing the club’s interest in Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland this week, which led to a backlash in Germany.

Tuchel said that Haaland, who was on Chelsea’s radar in the summer before completing a £97.5m deal for Romelu Lukaku, is still ‘talked about regularly’ at Stamford Bridge.

The Norwegian has become one of the most talked about players in world football because of his goal record, which has seen him score 70 times in 69 Dortmund appearances since January 2020, with Manchester United, Manchester City and Real Madrid among his main suitors.

Chelsea had been interested in launching a bid for Haaland this summer just gone, even though it would have meant paying more than double his release clause. But regardless of spending £97.5m on Romelu Lukaku, overplaying the Belgian and Tuchel’s comments suggest there is still a need to sign the striker.

Manchester United have Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani, 36 and 34 respectively, as their primary striker options, while Manchester City are operating without a recognised striker this season after failing to convince Tottenham to sell them Harry Kane.

“I fell into a trap. I got an award in Germany. I got an award from a newspaper. They gave me this award and asked me about a player. Normally I never speak about other players,” Tuchel clarified.

“I should have known better because in making fun about it and being a nice guy to answer a question, getting this award, I joke about a double striker with Romelu in October and it gets like we put an offer in. I should have known better.”

Haaland has a release clause in his contract that comes into play at the end of the season, capping his price at a €75m (£63.4m). It is a relatively modest sum considering his current ability, age and long-term potential to get even better.

Any club that formally indicates a willingness to trigger Haaland’s release clause is granted the right to formally negotiate a transfer with him, cutting Dortmund out of the loop.

But any deal would only go through if the player accepts an offer and Dortmund coach Marco Rose is defiant about the assumption will Haaland will leave at the earliest opportunity.

“Why shouldn’t a smart boy like Erling develop the feeling, when things are going well, to stay in Dortmund? I definitely see an opportunity,” Rose has been quoted as saying by Bild.

For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hopes Atalanta comeback was start of ‘something big’ for Man Utd

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said that resilience is part of Man Utd’s DNA, and that he hopes their comeback against Atalanta is the start of ‘something big’.

United beat the Serie A side 3-2 after being two goals down at half-time in the Champions League on Wednesday, with Cristiano Ronaldo rounding off a memorable night at Old Trafford.

[embedded content]

Solskjaer, who scored United’s iconic winner in their most famous comeback of all time back in 1999, says that kind of spirit is what the club is about.

“It’s something we have done plenty of times at the club,” he told a pre-match press conference ahead of facing Liverpool at Old Trafford on Sunday.

“It’s in our DNA. It’s ‘Never Give In’, [the title of] Sir Alex’s documentary. That’s what our fans expect from us, to give our best all the time. If you do that with the quality the players have here you can win games. You can sometimes lose games, but if you give everything then that’s a team out there.

“I saw a team in the first half as well giving everything for each other. But we needed half-time against Atalanta to push that belief a little bit more. Hopefully it’s the end of a bad period for us. Teams always go through bad spells and good teams come together.

“If that was the start of something big, that’s what we hope. The focus and determination in the lads has been really good since our bad performance against Leicester.”

United are looking to end a run of three successive Premier League games without a win when they host Liverpool. Another loss would see the Merseysiders move seven points clear of United, who could end up finishing the weekend as low as tenth.

Thomas Tuchel on how Callum Hudson-Odoi can kickstart his career

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel says that Callum Hudson-Odoi needs to perform well for the next 250 games in order to turn his career around.

The 20-year-old has scarcely featured since Tuchel took charge at Stamford Bridge, but impressed in Chelsea’s win over Malmo in the Champions League and could feature more in the coming weeks following injuries to Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner.

But when asked in a press conference whether this could be a turning point for the better in Hudson-Odoi’s career, Tuchel replied: “The only person who can decide this and answer this question is Callum.

“It’s as easy as that. Is there a turning point? Ok, he needs to prove it. He needs to play the next 250 games on the highest level and then that was the turning point. But is it a turning point if he does a brilliant match tomorrow? No.

“It’s only a turning point if he makes it a turning point – and only if he does not only do one good match, one good half, 60 good minutes, but if he does it consistently,” Tuchel added. “It’s as easy as that with every player.

“Once you do this you will have more minutes. Once you have more minutes you will maybe look back and say: ‘That was a turning point.’ You need to fight for it. You need to deserve it. It must be a perfect fit in a perfect moment. Sometimes you need a bit of luck. But in the end the only person who can answer that question is Callum. And we will support him.”

Hudson-Odoi’s next chance to impress for Chelsea comes in Saturday’s early Premier League kick-off against Norwich City.

Mikel Arteta lauds Emile Smith Rowe after lifestyle change

Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta revealed Emile Smith Rowe has adjusted his lifestyle to aid his football career after the academy graduate shone in the victory over Aston Villa on Friday night.

Smith Rowe – who was linked with a move to Villa Park in the summer – got the assist for Thomas Partey’s opener and scored the third as the Gunners ran out comfortable 3-1 winners at the Emirates, and his manager was full of praise for him after the game.

Arteta also revealed the 21-year-old played the full 90 minutes in Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace on Monday despite carrying an injury.

“When you want to take the game to the next level, when you become a real important player in such a big club, that should be the only priority and every detail is important and relevant,” the Spaniard told Sky Sports.

“You have to make him aware of that, you cannot give percentages away that can make big differences and he has changed that.

“Credit to him and obviously the staff here that are all the time monitoring and build that education with him and he’ll only get better.

“He should demand that in his game because he is capable of doing it. I’m pleased that that is developing. He still needs to develop more in other areas as well.”

Speaking about the knock the youngster had picked up, Arteta added: “The other night he wasn’t 100 per cent fit but he stepped forward and he wanted to play with a difficult injury that he had.

“There is no complaining, he is just looking forwards, he is really determined, he has changed the way he is living as well a little bit and some of the habits that he had and he’s been superb.”

The victory over Villa lifts the Gunners to ninth in the Premier League table, level on points with Man Utd in sixth, although Arsenal have played a game more.