Could Barella revolutionise Howe’s midfield?

As per the Telegraph, Newcastle United are leading the race for Nicolò Barella. It is understood that Internazionale would receive a transfer fee in the region of £50m, while the Italian midfielder would benefit from a hefty salary that would see him become the highest earner at St James’ Park.

At just 26 years of age, the Italian has proven his grit on some of the sport’s biggest stages. He started alongside Marco Verratti and Jorginho as his national side lifted the EURO 2020 trophy against England, and the 2022/23 season treated him well too – winning both of Italy’s domestic cup competitions. His side faltered at the final hurdle though against Manchester City, suffering a painful defeat under the lights of Istanbul’s Atatürk Olympic Stadium.

Nicolò Barella has been one of the standout performers for Internazionale this season, and it’s clear that he’d represent a significant improvement to Eddie Howe’s midfield. Newcastle United are simply crying out for a new star to work in a pivot, offering further stability alongside Bruno Guimarães – who would benefit from Barella’s presence as he looks to venture forward more frequently.

Barella’s stats are simply incredible, and the reported £50m price tag seems almost too good to be true in this day and age. The Italian has made 35 appearances in Serie A this season, contributing six goals and six assists from central midfield. That’s a very respectable return for a player who doesn’t just look to shoot at any opportunity, and his xG of 3.2 confirms that.

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In Serie A, his passing accuracy sits at 81.6% – allowing him to thrive almost anywhere in central midfield. When in possession, Barella looks to head towards goal 46.8% of the time. This demonstrates that while he understands the importance of progressing up the pitch, he is tactically astute enough to know that sometimes, the better option is to build out from the back.

It’s understood that Howe would rather focus his spending money on two or three elite players, rather than bolstering depth across the squad. It’s a bold approach, but given the success he’s enjoyed since taking the reins at the club, we’re not in a position to disagree with his decisions.

The other player that features at the top of Howe’s wishlist is Leicester City’s James Maddison. While the Foxes are reportedly demanding a fee in the region of £60m, Newcastle United feel that they are able to negotiate a better deal following Leicester’s relegation to the second tier. They’ll face tough competition for his signature though, with Tottenham Hotspur also interested in securing his services as Ange Postecoglou looks to make his mark on the team.

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