Nicolo Barella was heavily linked with a move to Chelsea back in January, and the Inter star has now revealed why he opted against a switch to Stamford Bridge.
Then Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri was said to be an admirer of the Italian midfielder, with the Sun noting last December that the Blues were plotting a €40m January swoop.
As noted by Calciomercato, the 22-year-old eventually went on to leave Cagliari as he joined the Nerazzurri in a deal that could cost them up to €45m, but that switch didn’t happen until this past summer.
Speaking about previous links with Chelsea, Barella has revealed that the decision to snub a move to west London was a simple one and it was out of loyalty to Cagliari as he stayed until the end of the campaign to help them out of a difficult position.
“If Sarri could have been my coach? Yes, Chelsea looked for me in January, the negotiation was concrete,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport, as per Calciomercato. “At Cagliari I said, it’s not an easy moment for the team, I’ll stay until the end of the season, then I’ll make a decision.”
That level of loyalty has to be lauded but it will perhaps still be a disappointment for Chelsea that they weren’t able to sign him at the start of the year while their transfer ban kicked in over the summer and so even if they were still interested, they wouldn’t have been in a position to snap him up.
Instead, he has joined up with Antonio Conte at Inter, and he’ll be hoping to get one over Sarri as they face Juventus in the Derby d’Italia on Sunday night.
Given Sarri’s exit from Chelsea, it could also be argued that it was perhaps a good thing that the deal wasn’t done in January, as there would have been no assurances that he would be part of Frank Lampard’s current plans.