Liverpool could secure their ideal heir to Jordan Henderson this summer after being linked with a move for Inter Milan midfielder Nicolo Barella.
What’s the story?
According to Italian outlet Calciomercato (as relayed by TheHardTackle), the Reds are keen on signing the Italy international over the coming weeks as manager Jurgen Klopp looks to strengthen his engine room options.
With Gini Wijnaldum departing for French giants Paris Saint-Germain and the future of club captain Henderson far from secure, Liverpool are believed to be searching for added reinforcements in the centre of the pitch.
However, they will reportedly face competition for Barella’s signature, with fierce rivals Manchester United also credited with an interest in the Inter ace.
Is Barella a realistic target for the Reds?
He’s better than Gini Wijnaldum
The San Siro could be the ideal destination to pick up a superstar this summer as the reigning Serie A champions look to address their financial troubles. Achraf Hakimi has already departed the Nerazzurri for PSG, while Romelu Lukaku is the subject of intense interest from Chelsea.
And Barella could be the next key figure to depart in the current window after several standout performances for club and country over the last couple of campaigns.
After playing a pivotal part in Inter’s first league title victory in 10 years, the box-to-box beast continued to excel on the international stage for Roberto Mancini’s Italy.
Barella bagged one goal and provided two assists for his teammates in six outings as the Azzurri claimed the European Championship trophy in impressive fashion, catching the eye of several onlookers, including Gary Lineker.
The Match of the Day presenter tweeted his admiration for the midfielder after his crucial goal in the quarter-final against Belgium, saying: “Barella the fella as Italy lead with a cracking goal. Superb game this.”
And his figures for the 2020/21 campaign reveal he could even prove to be an upgrade on Wijnaldum, should Klopp pull off an ambition swoop for the former Cagliari gem.
As per fbref.com, Barella’s underlying attacking figures were also far superiors, with the 5 ft 6 dynamo producing 52 key passes and 2.66 shot-creating actions per 90 to Wijnaldum’s tallies of 23 and 1.50, respectively.
And it wasn’t just in the final third where the Italian excelled, completing 1.33 tackles per 90 and 0.91 interceptions to Wijnaldum’s 0.75 and 0.75.
Whether Liverpool can afford the £58.5m-rated Barella remains doubtful, though, but if Director of Football Michael Edwards can continue to shift the club’s unwanted fringe players, then his excellent negotiating skills may be able to get this transfer over the line.