Nicolo Barella would be a good replacement for Cesc Fabregas at Chelsea
Maurizio Sarri has made it clear that he wants a new midfielder in his squad to cover for the departure of Fabregas (Sky Sports) and the Italian youngster has shown enough promise in recent years to impress the Blues.
A product of Cagliari’s youth system, Barella made his Serie A debut in 2015 and spent time on loan at Serie B club Como. The youngster enjoyed his breakthrough season in the 2016-17 campaign in the Serie A where he established himself as a first choice in Cagliari’s midfield. Barella hasn’t looked back since then and he already has 4 caps for Italy at the senior international level, having made his debut back in October.
Standing at 5ft. 7 inches with a lean and thin frame, Barella is a technically gifted central midfielder by trade. He is certainly not strong enough for a central midfielder, neither does he have the height to cut out the attacks with his aerial ability but Barella makes up for his lack of physicality with his tenacity, drive, determination and wonderful technique.
His low centre of gravity allows him to keep good close control, which coupled with his excellent body balance makes it difficult for the opposition to dispossess him. Known for his good range of passing and high work-rate, Barella not only has the ability to dictate terms in the midfield with his flawless passing but he is also capable of covering every blade of grass on the pitch.
Blessed with sharpness, agility and good game reading ability, the 21-year-old is not a traditional central midfielder who sits in front of the back four but he likes to bomb forward with the ball at his feet and also tracks back to make recoveries to win back possession for his team. The youngster is never afraid to stick his foot out when needed and has shown the ability to keep things tight in the middle of the park.
To put things into perspective, someone like Barella is not yet the finished product who can be a perfect replacement for a seasoned campaigner like Fabregas. However, there are high chances of him settling down well at Chelsea under the philosophy of Maurizio Sarri.
Sarri’s philosophy of possession-based patient build-up play requires high-quality players with technical abilities and tactical awareness. Barella has got both in abundance and Sarri has shown that he wants his midfielders to adopt a more dynamic approach to the game, with N’Golo Kante now playing as an attacking midfielder on the right of a midfield three.
While Barella likes to keep the ball at his feet, he is not good at sitting too deep inside his own half and Sarri’s philosophy will allow him to operate in a box-to-box role in the middle of the park. Furthermore, Barella is adept at moving the ball around quickly with short and long passes, which perfectly fits Chelsea’s possession-based style of play.
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That said, the Blues should not hesitate to splash the cash on the Italian prodigy as he has all the makings of developing into a world-class player provided he continues his development in the right path.