Nicolò Barella has just ended an extraordinary season at Inter and Richard Hall reckons he’ll be one of the most exciting players to watch at Euro 2020.
When Antonio Conte spoke of Nicolo Barella in the season just ended, he was at his utmost flattering. “Perfect in every respect,” was the verdict of the now-ex Inter coach.
Perhaps the best example of what so impressed Conte was seen against Juventus, in what was a Barella masterclass. It was an almost faultless performance – at his best Barella’s use of the ball is intelligent, his engine is unstoppable and he carries himself with more maturity on the pitch than players 10 years his senior.
There are few players who can dominate a game in midfield like Barella and his consistency is admirable too. The 24-year-old now has the experience, not just in having a Scudetto to his name but knowing what it takes to deliver one and having been a major part of Inter’s success. That Barella has drawn comparisons to the great Lothar Matthäs says a lot – and that the comparison isn’t inaccurate does too. The Germany legend himself even spoke about their similar playing styles. They both certainly have abnormal stamina; Barella is also a hard tackler and the comparison is there when considering their powerful running styles and long distance strikes.
Barella will feature prominently at Euro 2020, injuries permitting, not only because there is no player like him available to Roberto Mancini, but also because this tournament could move him from excellent talent to elite player. Barella may not be there yet but he is doing everything within his power to propel himself onto the world stage.
Mancini already has some potential injury headaches in midfield, which just make Barella a more likely option to start. His maturity is far beyond his years and the 23-year-old is a player who can be used as a defensive block or an offensive threat, in the same game. This year, at club level, Achraf Hakimi, Matteo Darmian, Marcelo Brozovic, Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku have all benefitted from Barella as the metronome in the middle of the field.
Barella has also proven to be a big game player and seems to thrive on the pressure. It’s a must that he is part of Mancini’s squad. The coach will know that Barella will be as tenacious and brave in the smaller games as he will in the bigger ones, and the Sardinian will add dynamism, courage, intelligence and class to any midfield.