Since arriving at Inter Milan from Cagliari, Nicola Barella has established himself as one of the most integral players in Antonio Conte’s system. Not only that, but at the age of 24, the Italian is rapidly developing into the complete midfielder. Because of his impressive rise to superstardom, the Cagliari-born playmaker would have plenty of suitors should he opt to depart the Nerazzurri. However, a long-term career at Inter isn’t out of the question. So, let’s consider whether he should stay in Italy for a little while longer.
A Strong Relationship with Conte
Under Conte, Barella has been indispensable to the three-time Serie A-winning manager. Following their respective arrivals at the San Siro in 2019, the pair have developed a trusting relationship. In an all-action style like Conte’s, having the Italian coach’s faith is of utmost importance. Thus far in their time working together, there can be no doubts that the 51-year-old has taken Barella’s game to the next level.
On January 17th, 2021, goals from Arturo Vidal and Barella saw the Nerazzurri defeat the reigning Serie A champions, Juventus. Following the match, Conte described the 24-year-old midfielder’s performance against the Old Lady as “perfect in every aspect”. In response, the Cagliari-born playmaker stated that the former Chelsea manager has developed him as a player because of his straightforward attitude.
It’s a testament to Barella’s quality that the club views him as their next long-term captain after Samir Handanovic, according to Football Italia. For an Italian player, captaining the 18-time Serie A winners would undoubtedly be a great honour. In Barella’s case, few can argue that he hasn’t earned the opportunity, and heightened responsibility may be pivotal in retaining his services for the long term.
Could He Swap the San Siro for the Premier League?
Due to his impressive form in 2020-21, Barella has piqued the interests of various clubs. Along with Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hostpur, Liverpool are reportedly prepared to pay £56 million for the midfielder, with Georginio Wijnaldum going the other way on a free transfer. Statistically, it’s clear to see why the Reds want the Italian, who has three goals and six assists to his name in 24 Serie A matches this season. By comparison, Wijnaldum has two goals and no assists in his first 26 top-flight games in 2020-21.
However, it isn’t only English clubs that are circling around Barella. According to FC Barcelona Noticias, the 24-year-old has caught the eye of Barcelona and Real Madrid. Because of their history and reputation, few players pass up a move to Spain. As of March 3rd, the Catalan giants are 10/3 in La Liga betting to win the league in 2020-21, but their midfield undoubtedly lacks someone of Barella’s quality. With a lack of clarity hanging over Lionel Messi’s future, Ronald Koeman may need to launch a rebuild project over the coming months, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Italian became a primary target.
Plenty to Achieve at Inter
Although historic clubs may be keen on Barella, Inter holds all the cards. Having signed him permanently in the summer of 2020, the Nerazzurri don’t need to sell their star midfielder. Plus, with the prospect of becoming captain on the table, the 24-year-old could be at the heart of returning Inter to the pinnacle of domestic and European football, which could be too tempting to refuse.