Tottenham Hotspur missed out on “one of the three best midfielders in European football” when they failed to sign Inter Milan’s Nicolo Barella in January, Fabio Capello has told Sky Italia.
With the Nerazzurri dreaming of the Scudetto for the first time since the days of Jose Mourinho, Wesley Sneijder and Samuel Eto’o, it’s no surprise the Serie A leaders slammed down the shutters when Spurs came calling for the division’s most influential midfielder.
Barella may be diminutive in stature but, metaphorically speaking, is a giant presence at the heart of Antonio Conte’s team, the driving force of a stirring title charge.
According to Calciomercato, Tottenham tried to sign the £43 million-rated Italy international during the January transfer window.
Inter, however, had no intention of cashing in on a player who, according to Capello, has few equals anywhere on the continent.
“Barella is without a shadow of a doubt one of the three best midfielders in European football. Without a shadow of a doubt,” the former Real Madrid, AC Milan and England boss explained after Inter’s 3-0 victory over Genoa secured their four-point lead at the top of the table.
“He has vision, stamina, quality and pace. He does everything right. Achraf Hakimi (the right-back) has pace, but the difference is Hakimi gets there and boots it into the box. Barella crosses the ball precisely. That is a very big difference.
“Barella wins back the ball and then passes it to start moves. The Inter team has been transformed with him.”
With three goals and ten assists to his name this season, Barella is starting to become a real difference-maker in the penalty box for the first time in his career too.
Tottenham never had a chance.