Prior to his move to Inter, Nicolo Barella was a wanted man all around Europe, and Chelsea, then managed by Maurizio Sarri, were among the suitors.
There were a number of reports about it this time last year, to the point where local newspapers believed the Premier League side wanted a deal done by Christmas.
However, the move never happened, and instead of continuing his career in England, he stayed in his home country, moving to Milan where Antonio Conte convinced him to join him at Inter.
He’s impressed already, and has shown why Sarri wanted him so badly at Chelsea.
In fact, it seemed the London club were ready to go above and beyond for Barella if Marcello Carli, Cagliari’s director of football, is to be believed.
Speaking to Corriere dello Sport, he said: “Last January, Napoli did their best, like Atlético Madrid. [Tommaso] Giulini (Cagliari’s president) said no. Chelsea did everything and more. Maurizio [Sarri] wanted to bring him despite the transfer ban”.
The idea would have been to sign him in January knowing their ban was on its way, much like the club did with Christian Pulisic, who was then sent back to Borussia Dortmund for the rest of the season.
That being said, had it happened, it seems unlikely Barella would have returned to Cagliari on loan, such was Sarri’s desire to have him under his orders.