Nicolo Barella: The Cagliari midfielder lauded by Andrea Pirlo

Since the start of the 2017-18 season, only two players have won more tackles than Nicolo Barella (74) in Serie A - Lucas Leiva (87) and Allan (82)

Every week the BBC Football Daily Euro Leagues podcast panel will select a promising youngster to focus on. This week our subject is...

Nicolo Barella

His ambitions are to own a nice house and one day meet NBA superstar LeBron Jamesexternal-link - but Cagliari midfielder Nicolo Barella may have to widen his horizons soon.

The 21-year-old has reportedly caught the eye of several European giants, including Juventus, Tottenham and Liverpool, after two consistent seasons with the Sardinians in Serie A, while Azzurri legend Andrea Pirlo called him 'one of the best in Italy' this week.

Last season Barella scored six goals in the league - only Leonardo Pavoletti managed more for Cagliari - and he has already scored a superb free-kick this year against Atalanta.

"The transfer market? I feel at home with the team of my city," he said earlier this summer.

"Together with the president, I decided to prolong my relationship with them, rejecting the offers that came my way.

"I didn't even take them into consideration. My first choice has always been Cagliari."

It is a choice that may be revisited in January - and beyond.

Euro Leagues podcast analysis

Nico Barella
Against AC Milan, Barella recovered possession 13 times. Only two outfield players have done so more in a Serie A game so far this season.

Italian football journalist Mina Rzouki: "Barella is very much being spoken about, not just in Italy, but around Europe with the likes of Tottenham and Liverpool tracking his progress. Inter and Juve are at war about trying to bring him in, while Andrea Pirlo and Alessandro del Piero can't stop talking about him.

"The two things that Italians love in midfielders are intellect and having an old head on young shoulders - someone who can withstand pressure and play with composure. That is what he has. He is exceptionally veteran-like despite his young age and never seems rattled.

"He can dribble through a defence, score with left-footed volleys and start counter-attacks. He knows how to find the right passes and is box-to-box.

"Most importantly he can win back possession quickly and recover the ball. He was man of the match against Atalanta and then won the ball back 13 times against Milan at the weekend. He has been called up to the national team. Roberto Mancini believes in him."


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