Nicolo Barella on track to legendary status as Inter’s title statement
Inter’s Nicolo Barella further enhanced his growing reputation with a masterful midfield performance against Juventus in Sunday night’s Derby d’Italia.
Antonio Conte’s side, thanks to goals from Arturo Vidal and Barella, beat the winners 2-0 at San Siro – increasing their lead over the Old Lady to six points.
The 23-year-old’s second-half strike after securing an incredible assist from Alessandro Bastoni, another of Italian football’s brightest young stars, was his second Serie A goal of the campaign.
Arguably the peerless player on the pitch for both sides, it was also Barella’s cross as Vidal returned home to open the scoring after just 12 minutes – further proof of his growing influence on the team.
Signed from Cagliari in September last year for £ 25.2million, the Italy international has already made 66 appearances for the Nerazzurri; but for many Barella is a bit unknown and few people outside of Italy know his strengths as a mezzala.
Versatility in the different midfield roles is something Barella has long been praised for. Its tactical flexibility allows coaches to adjust their system safely in-game knowing that it will be able to adapt seamlessly and that these days it’s worth its weight in gold.
Add to that his impressive passing range paired with his aggressiveness in the middle of the park and you could tell the ex-Cagliari man is almost the complete midfielder. Having already won 18 caps for Roberto Mancini’s national team, he is truly a key part of the squad with the new look that the former Manchester City boss is building.
Barella’s ability to go from a relentless midfielder aggressively chasing his opponents without the ball to a cultivated playmaker with it at his feet, almost at the push of a button, makes him a very special footballer. .
One of the criticisms that have been leveled at him in the past is that sometimes in terms of death he can be a little too risk-averse, but based on his performance so far this season it seems a bit hard. His time as one of Serie A’s big hitters means he is now in a team that spends a lot more time playing up front and that may be why some of the critics have been silent.
Conte, throughout his managerial career, it’s fair to say that he preferred to trust more experienced players, seasoned professionals if you will – hence the re-signing of Arturo Vidal during the summer transfer window, a player he has already won three Scudetti with.
However, if you review the campaign so far, it could certainly be argued that the 33-year-old has been eclipsed by the younger Barella.
If Inter can keep Barella for the seasons to come, he certainly has the technical attributes and the temperament to continue and become a legend at the club. But first, everyone must focus on the job at hand, close the gap to their division-leading city rivals and win their first league title in over a decade.