Nicolo Barella has proven himself a star at Inter, attracting the attention of Manchester City, and his decision to agree to a new contract is a key win for the Nerazzurri.

La Gazzetta dello Sport reported today that the 27-year-old Italian midfielder had verbally agreed to sign a new long-term deal with the league leaders, worth around €7m net per season including add-ons, lasting until June 2029.

Whilst pen hasn’t been put to paper yet, it only seems like a matter of time now until Barella officially commits his future to Inter, something that will come as great news for coach Simone Inzaghi and the club’s management.

Since joining the Nerazzurri in July 2019, the Italian midfielder has scored 22 goals and provided 49 assists in 218 appearances across all competitions, helping the club win six trophies including the Scudetto. His performances were also vital in their run to the Champions League final last term.

Barella is one of the most important figures in Inzaghi’s Inter squad, able to play in a number of roles in his five-man midfield. Where the 27-year-old truly shines, however, is when he plays on the right side of the five as a mezzala or box-to-box midfielder.

The Euro 2020 winner is a hard-working and creative player, willing to press intensely across the 90 minutes and drive up the pitch with the ball at his feet. He has a strong vision of the match, able to cross play with long passes, and his clever off-the-ball movement also assists his teammates in build-up moves.

Barella also shines when playing quick passes in between the lines and is no slouch in the final third, able to contribute with thunderous long shots. His hunger for the ball makes him fearsome when Inter are out of possession, confident chasing down his man before launching into a tackle.

The graph above compares Barella’s work in the 2023-24 Serie A season so far to his midfield peers, using 1721 minutes of action as a sample size. The numbers seen refer to his percentile rankings in each statistic, with 50% being the average for his role.

The 27-year-old clearly stands out in a number of areas, starting with his work in attack; he produces an incredible number of shot-creating actions, 4.55 per 90 minutes on average, and an impressive level of quality shots, 0.15 non-penalty expected goals per 90.

In possession, Barella is almost unmatched in his role for progressive passes, providing 9.57 per 90, and receives a significant amount as well, 4.76 per 90. This shows how he’s able to play the ball forward to teammates before charging down the pitch to help continue the move, quickly progressing play.

With the ball at his feet, the Cagliari native is confident pushing through the lines, averaging 2.20 progressive carries per 90, and taking on his man, winning 0.99 defender take-ons per 90. His 65.89 attempted passes per 90 also signposts his central role to Inzaghi’s system and general vision on the pitch.

Finally, the graph clearly highlights how Barella isn’t particularly asked to carry out too many purely defensive duties for Inter. Whilst clearly able to fill those roles, Inzaghi values the Italian’s contributions going forward too much to want him to drop deep for the dirty work.

Considering all of the above then, it’s hardly a surprise that Barella agreeing to commit his future to Inter is a huge win for the club, especially when remembering how Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City made a serious approach for the midfielder just six months ago. Other clubs like Newcastle United and Chelsea have also reportedly targeted the 27-year-old in the past, showing his value.

Words: @ApolloHeyes

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