Liverpool sporting director Julian Ward will be all ears after a report from Italy suggested Inter Milan midfielder Nicolo Barella could be ‘sacrificed’ by the Serie A club.
The Italy midfielder is regarded as one of Italy biggest talents and his stock rose after last summer’s European Championship win. Liverpool were heavily linked with the 25-year-old in the aftermath.
Ward’s predecessor Michael Edwards is understood to have had Barella on his radar over 12 months ago. Liverpool were not given any encouragement though with Inter making the player an unmovable object.
The Reds are reported to have made an enquiry about the player before he helped guide the Azzurri to Euro glory.
Last July, Enrico Camelio from Radio Radio told the Calciomercato Show: “Liverpool asked for information for Barella, but for Inter they cannot be transferred. It ended there”.
However, now it transpires, Inter could make a U-turn and instead cash in on the player as early as January.
Barella has started all five Serie A games this season. But he was disappointing in the derby defeat to AC Milan. So much so that he was replaced just after the hour mark by Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
The Cagliari-born star did sign a new contract last November. He is now tied to Inter until June 2026 after negotiating a new €5m net per season deal.
Klopp likes Barella ‘a lot’
Caliciomercato report that Inter are considering cashing in on Barella next summer. Inter sporting director Piero Ausilio rates Barella in the €70m bracket. There will be no discounts. But interestingly a January sale is also not excluded should one of the Premier League giants put the right money on the table.
A number of LaLiga clubs are also following Barella and Inter will be pushing for a public-style auction.
Liverpool will be unwilling to get involved in that, but Jurgen Klopp is a big admirer of Barella.
Ahead of their February Champions League clash with Inter, in which Barella was suspended, Klopp said: “That Barella is not able to play is not bad for us!
“He is a really good player, a really good player. I like him a lot. He has all the things you want from a midfield player. He’s aggressive, he’s technically [good], he can run for ages and all these kinds of things.
“So he’s a top-class player. But – I’m not 100 per cent sure – probably the replacement will be Arturo Vidal. So that’s experience at its best.”
Liverpool injury list
The Italian source has previously claimed Klopp is ‘bewitched’ by the player and that he will stop at nothing to bring Barella to Anfield. The price tag last summer was nearer to €90m, so the €70m price tag looks like an attractive proposition.
Of course Klopp did strengthen Liverpool’s hand last week with the loan arrival of Arthur Melo from Juventus. The Reds do have an option to buy in the deal, but the German coach could still be looking for more midfielders even if Arthur’s deal is turned into a permanent transfer.
Injuries to Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jordan Henderson and Curtis Jones forced Klopp’s hand. He originally made it clear tha t Liverpool would not add to their squad in the final weeks of the window.
That all changed though after a poor start and an accumulation of midfield issues.
Jamie Carragher suspects Ward’s top priority at the moment will be to compile a list of midfielders that Liverpool can target next summer.
Carragher: Arthur not the answer
Carragher doubts Arthur is seen as the long-term answer at Liverpool and thinks they will be in the market for another midfielder in the next few windows.
The Liverpool legend said: “Liverpool needed a striker and spent big on a striker. Liverpool needed a midfield player but the player they wanted was not available. The question is should they have gone for someone else?
“Yes, there is an argument that next season – with age and injuries – they will need more than one midfielder. It’s the one area you can question Liverpool.
“Yes, they are not panicking. But they could be in the market for two or three midfield players – could they have brought one of them in now? Midfielders are going to be the major shake-up in the next 12 months for Liverpool.”
If Liverpool can get their hands on Barella he would be a brilliant acquisition.
The speedy former Cagliari man would be a perfect fit for the pressing style that Klopp insists upon. He can also shoot from range and is able to orchestrate proceedings from the middle of the pitch.