Tottenham should hijack Chelsea’s move for Nicolo Barella to replace Mousa Dembele

Tottenham should be looking to hijack Chelsea’s pursuit of Cagliari midfielder Nicolo Barella to offset the imminent departure of Mousa Dembele, who has been the subject of a successful £9m bid from Chinese Super League side Beijing Guoan.

What’s the word, then?

Spurs needed to sign some midfield reinforcements anyway, before the interest in Dembele became concrete. The Belgian has started just seven Premier League games this season as he struggles to maintain a consistently good level of fitness, and even in the games he has played in, he looks far from his usual dominant self.

Along with the 31-year-old’s issues, another midfield man in Victor Wanyama has started just a single league game as he too battles to avoid injury – however, it is a battle that he is losing quite heavily.

Mauricio Pochettino has reacted by promoting the likes of Oliver Skipp and George Marsh into the first-team in order to deal with the crisis in the middle of the park, but an accomplished, marquee signing in Barella wouldn’t go amiss – especially if it meant top-four rivals Chelsea missed out on him too.

Who is he?

The Italian international is a versatile young midfielder with a whole host of strings to his bow. At just 21 years of age, Barella can perform effectively in both the central midfield and centre attacking midfield positions, with his long-range shooting ability and tough tackling being key features of his game.

He has previously been lauded by none other than Andrea Pirlo, and it is clear to see why the Blues view him as an ideal candidate to succeed Cesc Fabregas in the middle of the park.

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Barella is also a strong set-piece taker, who can threaten the goal more often than not from dead-ball situations – he is set to be a star player for the present and the future, and Spurs simply can’t afford to let him go to Stamford Bridge.

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