According to Corriere dello Sport (via Sempre Inter), Spurs had enquired about the possibility of signing the Italy international in the recent window, although that move was swiftly rebuffed by the Serie A side who were intent on keeping the 25-year-old.
The report suggests that negotiations were not advanced as the San Siro outfit quickly put paid to any notion of a departure for the 39-cap gem, with the Lilywhites having also been eyeing a deal for his teammate, Alessandro Bastoni.
The playmaker was also reportedly a target for fellow Premier League side Liverpool in recent months, although the former Cagliari man ultimately stayed put, with four years still to run on his current deal.
Although it had never appeared likely that the 5 foot 9 sensation would make the move to north London, it will still have been a great source of frustration for Conte not to have been able to secure a deal for his compatriot, with the former Chelsea boss likely to have loved the chance to work with the midfield maestro again.
It was under the 53-year-old that Inter had signed Barella on an initial loan deal back in 2019, with the £63m-rated man going on to play a pivotal role in the club’s Scudetto success the following season, scoring three goals and providing seven assists in 36 appearances during that glorious 2020/21 campaign.
That title triumph had seen the current Spurs boss favour a 3-5-2 formation, with the £153k-per-week star typically lining up in a quality midfield trio alongside Marcelo Brozovic and Christian Eriksen.
At present, Conte simply does not have the tools to fashion such a trio at Tottenham, with the serial-winning coach potentially lacking a dynamic asset such as Barella who can make the difference in the final third from his midfield berth.
The Euro 2020 winner certainly does just that as he has scored 12 goals and registered an impressive 37 assists in 141 games for the Nerazzurri to date, including three goal contributions in just six games in the current campaign – with the likes of Rodrigo Bentancur (0), Yves Bissouma (0) and Pierre-Emile Hojberg (three) having only three goal involvements between them so far this term.
That creative flair was evident during Saturday’s triumph over Torino, as the highly-rated “genius” – as lauded by journalist Mike Piellucci – teed up the aforementioned Brozovic late on with a delightful dinked pass.
A player who loves to serve as that link between midfield and attack, the one-time Como loanee also notably ranks in the top 10% for progressive carries and the top 13% for progressive passes among those in his position across Europe’s top five leagues.
Such a quality addition could well have helped bolster Conte’s squad in such a key area of the pitch, with the former Juventus coach having recently revealed his frustration at the lack of further incomings.
He no doubt would have loved to have had Barella in his ranks this season.