Inter have received some disturbing news from the treatment table, with the verdict having fallen on Nicolo Barella’s knee injury indicating that he needs surgery.
The 22-year-old, who is on loan at San Siro from Cagliari until the end of the season, suffered a knock in Saturday’s 3-0 victory over Torino away from home.
While the win kept Antonio Conte’s side firmly in touch with Serie A leaders Juventus – the Nerazzurri have dropped only four points so far this season – it has come at a cost as they have lost the midfielder for the rest of the year.
On the club’s official website, Inter announced: “Clinical and instrumental examinations of Nicolo Barella at the Istituto Humanitas di Rozzano took place on Sunday after yesterday's substitution against Torino due to a distortion in his right knee.
“The investigations showed a detachment of a cartilaginous fragment of the patella. Barella must undergo arthroscopic removal of the fragment.”
While Inter have not put a timescale on the player’s return from the operation, it is estimated that it will be early January before he is back in action.
Barella has been an important member of the side that has climbed to second in Italy’s top flight, having played every one of their 13 fixtures so far this season. During this time, he has contributed three assists, while he scored his first goal prior to the international break against Hellas Verona on November 9.
It is a particular blow to Inter’s Champions League aspirations. Sitting on four points from four games, their progress in Europe is far from clear after going down 3-2 against Borussia Dortmund earlier this month.
Conte’s men, therefore, travel to Slavia Prague in midweek seeking a victory that could keep their aspirations burning ahead of what they hope will be a decisive home match against Barcelona in December.
Barella netted against the Czech side when the teams met on the opening night of action, with his stoppage-time goal all the more important in light of subsequent results.
Inter are faced with an extensive injury list, as Stefano Sensi, Roberto Gagliardini, Matteo Politano and Alexis Sanchez among those to miss the fixture.