Liverpool could sign £85m Inter Milan star to unleash midfield revolution

Even though it has been widely reported that Liverpool have concluded their transfer business for the summer, rumors linking players with moves to Anfield continue to circulate. You can’t blame agents for pushing such stories for their clients, when the interest of the Reds is a serious seal of approval these days.

The club may have only made three signings, but their business has freshened up three sections of the team. The acquisitions of calvin ramsay, Fabio Carvalho and darwin nunez will provide an injection of exciting young talent into the defence, midfield and forward line respectively.

But having missed out on Aurelien Tchouameni, it’s clear the Reds were aiming to add another top star to their options in the center of the park. It has been claimed they are interested in signing Nicolo Barella of Inter Milan for £85m, and it’s obvious how such stories might have started.

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Jurgen Klopp spoke about him ahead of his side’s Champions League tie with Inter Milan. “He is a really good player, a really good player. I like him a lot,” Klopp said. “He has all the things you want from a midfield player. He’s aggressive, he’s technically [good]he can run for ages and all these kinds of things.” With praise as fulsome as that, transfer links between Barella and the Reds were inevitable.

The 25-year-old has just enjoyed the most creative season of his career, setting up 12 goals as Inter narrowly failed to defend their Serie A title. Only seven players in Europe’s big five leagues (one of whom was Mohamed Salah) collected more assists in 2021/22.

And while midfielders at Liverpool are not primarily expected to create goals, Barella’s record puts the lack of potency the Reds carry from central areas into sharp focus. Nine different men started a league game in midfield for Klopp’s side last season and in those appearances the players in question collectively contributed 12 assists, to match the Italian’s total.

Barella’s other statistics also illustrate that he can press, carry the ball well and both cross and pass it into the penalty area on a regular basis. While a transfer to Liverpool seems very unlikely at this point, there’s little doubt he has the skills that would catch the eyes of the scouts and analysts at the club.

Yet with the midfielders Klopp can call upon, the Reds don’t necessarily need to sign another. While they went for Tchouameni, that may have been in part down to his availability rather than because they had to address an urgent need.

With reports emerging that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is set to stay at Liverpool to see out the final year of his contract, the need for midfield reinforcements naturally retracts. This works in more ways than one, as according to Statsbomb’s data one of the players whom is most similar to the former Arsenal man is Barella.

Per FBRef, Oxlade-Chamberlain has amassed some very impressive numbers over the last year, albeit while not playing as often as he would like. He is among the top four percent of midfielders in England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain for statistics such as pressing in the final third and pressure success rate, carrying the ball into the attacking third or opposition box and passes into the penalty area.

In other words, Liverpool already have their Barella in the form of Oxlade-Chamberlain. His performances by him were underwhelming at times in 2021/22 though, which helps explain why he did not start a league or European game after mid-February.

But the numbers suggest he was still producing at a very good standard, and it will be interesting to see how often he features for the Reds next season. It’s very unlikely that Barella will.

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