Football Features

Nicolo Barella transfer latest: Six things we know so far about the Newcastle, Liverpool target

By Ben Green

Published: 13:15, 29 June 2023

Nicolo Barella is the latest high-profile name to emerge as a potential transfer target for Europe’s major clubs this summer.

A European champion with Italy, Scudetto-wearer with Inter and a Champions League finalist, Barella is a world-class midfield operator, and speculation linking him with a move away from the San Siro has set pulsing racing for certain clubs across the continent.

Plenty of Premier League clubs have been credited with an interest in a player who was once described by Fabio Capello as “one of the three best midfielders in Europe” — but could he genuinely make a switch to England? Well, here’s where we’re currently at.

Who is interested in Nicolo Barella?

Central midfielders are hot property this summer, a notion underpinned by the tug-of-war between Arsenal and Man City for Declan Rice, and Barella is among those being looked at with covetous eyes from the shop window by some of Europe’s biggest clubs.

News broke quite dramatically recently that Newcastle were in discussions with Inter over a proposed £50m deal, but they have since turned their attentions to Milan’s Sandro Tonali, in a deal that could cost them around £60m, underlining their intent to become a powerhouse.

Liverpool are also thought to hold a strong interest in the 26-year-old. Jurgen Klopp will be desperate to reinvent his midfield this summer following the departures of James Milner, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Thiago is also someone he can’t really rely on given his injury track record.

Already, he has recruited Alexis Mac Allister from Brighton, and at just £35m, there will be plenty more dough left in the transfer kitty — and Barella has reportedly been identified as a major target. Prominent Liverpool names have already talked up the Italian’s credentials.

Steven Gerrard said last season of Barella: “I watched him against England in Naples and he was involved in all parts of the game. He did really well against the England midfield; Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice. He’s at a good age, as well, coming into his prime.”

Jamie Carragher also commented: “I think he’s probably one of the best in Europe playing in that tucked in, right-sided central midfield position. He’s box-to-box and gets goals from there.”

Manchester United are the other major name with a firm interest in Barella. There are suggestions they are in the race for Rice, but there remains doubt as to whether they would be willing to match West Ham’s £100m+ asking price, so Erik ten Hag could turn his attention to Barella instead.


Nicolo Barella transfer specials: To sign for before 3rd September 2023  Sky Bet
Newcastle 5/2
Liverpool 3/1
Arsenal 7/1
Chelsea 7/1
Man Utd 16/1
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How much could Barella cost?

Barella was supposedly in talks with Newcastle over a £50m deal, but reports suggest they are some £30m shy of Inter’s valuation for their prized asset. All in, Barella has cost Inter around £40m from Cagliari when they signed him permanently in 2020, so they will want at least double that fee.

It’s one of the main reasons why Newcastle have redirected their gaze to Tonali, with Eddie Howe reportedly unwilling to break the bank and risk FFP repercussions on the signing of Barella for a club-record fee. Still, if Liverpool and Man Utd are interested, they will be looking at a figure in that region.

When does Barella’s contract run out?

One of the reasons Inter can command such a high figure is because Barella still has three years remaining on his current contract. Only a year after joining, the midfielder signed a contract extension in November 2021 which will keep him at the club until June 2026. Inter are very much in the driving seat here.

What has Barella said?

Barella’s attachment to Inter is well-documented. Last year he mentioned how his father is a big Inter fan, and used to buy him the kits when he was growing up.

He said: “When my father went out for work he always brought me a kit from the city team and I used them when we played matches with my cousins. At Inter I had one of Ronaldo and one of Recoba.

“I have always said that I am a Cagliari fan but I have always sympathised with Inter because many of my family supported Inter.”

More recently in December, when discussing the ambitions of Italy at the 2026 World Cup, and his own future at the San Siro, he commented: “We’ll have to get their first, but I see myself as still being an Interista in 2026.”

What have Inter said?

In recent days, Inter legend Beppe Bergomi has declared that Barella is “untouchable”, telling Gazzetta dello Sport: “It’s simple. They [Inter] have to convey the message that he’s not for sale at any price, it’s useless to make an offer.”


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How could Inter replace Barella?

It certainly wouldn’t be easy trying to replace someone of Barella’s qualities, but there are players on the market with similar profiles. One of those is versatile midfield operator Otavio from Porto, who spent the majority of last season switching between central midfield and right wing.

In the 2022/23 Primeira Liga season, Otavio was the only player to complete through balls in the double digits, and registered 20. He also ranked third for expected assists (9.65) and expected assists from open play (8.45), while also winning the second-most fouls of any player (82).

Of course, any potential move would involve Otavio transitioning from occasional central midfielder to out-and-out mezzala, a free-roaming No. 8 who can mirror the surging runs and creative spark of Barella, but also bring the tenacity and bite to hold his own in the middle third. He won the fourth-most duels of any player last term in the Portuguese top flight (224), so it looks like he might be able to handle himself in the hustle and bustle of Italian football.

Joey Veerman is another who has a similarly creative outlook. The PSV midfielder ranked fourth in the Dutch top flight last season for expected assists (10.23), while he also ranked third for final third entries (396) and second for completed through balls (eight). Recently capped by the Netherlands, the 24-year-old has the creative instinct and midfield dynamism to really enhance Inter’s midfield should Barella leave.

If it’s a younger model Inter are after, then 18-year-old breakout star Desire Doue could be an alternative from Rennes. Reims’ 20-year-old sensation Kamory Doumbia is another interesting candidate, as is Strasbourg’s Habib Diarra and all-action American midfielder Yunus Musah from Valencia.

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