Manchester United have joined the race to sign Cagliari’s home grown ace Nicolo Barella, according to reports in the Italian media.
The recently-capped Italy midfielder has previously been linked with Liverpool, Arsenal as well as a host of other European clubs.
The 21-year-old has recently earned international recognition under new Azzurri coach Roberto Mancini, and was once dubbed by il Gazzetta dello Sport as the ‘Sardinian Gerrard’.
Having already attracted interest from the Gunners and the Reds, Jose Mourinho’s side have now joined the hunt for Barella, with club scouts keeping a watchful eye over the midfielder.
Former Azzuri boss Fabio Capello was full of praise for the youngster, when he told Radio Anch’io Sport: “Barella’s the player who can change the tempo in midfield. He gives something more in terms of quality and quantity, which we lacked before.
“He reminds me a bit of (Marco) Tardelli on a dynamic level.”
Capello’s comparisons are worthy with Barella boasting some impressive stats. With 72 recoveries in Serie A this season, no other player can touch him, while only five players have won more tackles than him (16). Only one midfielder has made more interceptions, while he ranks fourth in terms of duels won.
Cagliari are understandly reluctant to part ways with their new star, who was at the centre of strong interest from Atletico Madrid in the summer, but club president Tommaso Giulini remains determined to keep his starlet.
The reports suggest that while United are prepared to spend the required €50m it would take to sign the midfielder, Liverpool are happy to step away from a potential bidding war for the player given they have spent the best part of £100million upgrading their midfield this summer.
It does, however, seem that the player is keen on a move to the Premier League, with the player telling il Gazzetta dello Sport earlier this year: “If I had to choose between Serie A and the Premier League, I’d go for England, because I like the way they approach the game.
“Plus everyone there is just as irritable and prone to fouls as me!”
Barella has also been compared to former Manchester United target Radja Nainggolan, with the player saying: “I think people say we’re similar because we always give 100 per cent on the field,” the youngster reasoned. “I hope to have a career like his but I still have so much to learn to reach those levels.”
Want all the latest football news directly on your timeline? Like our Facebook page.