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Nicolò Barella: Profiling the Sardinian wonder scouted by Arsenal


Arsenal have raided a Serie A club as recently as last summer when Lucas Torreira swapped Sampdoria for The Emirates and it seems Arsenal are now looking toward Italy again with highly rated Cagliari centre midfielder Nicolò Barella

Nicknamed “the transistor radio” by his team-mates because of how much he talks and his joker attitude but when he’s on the pitch Barella is an adrenaline fulled midfielder with a real bite to his game.

A lionhearted prospect

Barella, at 21-years-old, is the youngest player to ever captain a game for Cagliari which is high praise as this is only his third season in their first team squad. Italian paper La Gazzetta Dello Sport, likened him to England legend Steven Gerrard, referencing his good technique, vision, stamina, and physical strength.

Although Aaron Ramsey is a player so unique that realistically finding a direct replacement would prove difficult it wouldn’t be unfair to say that Nicolò Barella shares a lot of the same traits as Ramsey.

Like Ramsey, Nicolò has been used in a number of midfield roles. He’s played as an attacking #10 and as a defensive #6 but his most common position is as a classic box to box #8 – again similar to Ramsey.

For Cagliari he plays on the right-hand side of a midfield diamond and because of this does tend to drift out towards wider areas of the pitch. His quick feet, acceleration and positive vitality for the game whenever he plays shines through and it’s this outlook – partnered with his impressive physical and technical traits that make him adept at winning possession back, driving forward with the ball, finding killer passes and even finishing moves off in the opposition box.

Following in Zola’s footsteps to the Premier League?

Barella joined and made his debut for Cagliari under the tutelage of Gianfranco Zola and he has had glowing things to say about the former Italian schemer that could perhaps be linked to what he wants for his own future:

“For me, Zola is a legend. To see a Sardinian go out and conquer London and England was truly inspiring”

Nicolò Barella who likes to play football at 100mph – whether the game is going forwards or backwards against his team. He’s described winning a tackle as being just as excited as scoring a goal before.

Nicolò Barella’s love for defending

His ability to win the ball back is impressive and according to, he averages 2.9 tackles per game which is the eighth highest in Serie A in a list that is topped by Lucas Leiva who doesn’t beat Barella by much at 3.6 tackles per game.

Nicolò Barella also averages at 1.3 interceptions and 1.5 dribbles per game whilst also being fouled 2.5 times a game which shows his impressive array of talents.

Two players Barella has built his game around was Radja Nainggolan and Dejan Stanković saying:

“I’ve admired them because they base their style on intensity and winning the ball back was part of their strengths. It’s certainly instinctive in part, if you don’t feel it inside you, you don’t go in for the challenge. Not everyone chases someone for 15 metres and then slides in.”

What he would add to The Gunners

Since players like Patrick Vieira and Gilberto Silva left the club Arsenal have been much maligned for having a midfield lacking bite with Wenger preferring to stock the team in great technicians rather than specific ball winners – but the idea of having Nicolò Barella in the same midfield as Lucas Torreira would certainly be a midfield with fangs.

Even more exciting would be the future prospect of being able to field the likes of Barella (22), Lucas Torreira (23) and Matteo Guendouzi (19) for future years would be options that would rival the midfield talents of most rival clubs on European football.

Emery has spoken before about wanting to build a team with a real work ethic that can bridge that emotional gap with the fans. Torreira has achieved this is bucket-loads this season and has instantly endeared fans with a never say die attitude – were he to join, Barella would absolutely follow suit. A different animal to Torreira, that’s for sure, but an animal nonetheless is a fantastic way to describe a player that is truly a warrior on the pitch.

I wouldn’t expect him to come anywhere near the goal or assist output of Aaron Ramsey but Nicolò Barella has all the hallmarks of an Emery player and the way the squad is being built he’d very quickly become an integral cog.

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