Connect with us

Scout Report

Scout Report: Nicolo Barella | Cagliari’s Complete Midfielder


Kaustubh Pandey provides a detailed scout report on Cagliari’s promising Italian midfielder, Nicolo Barella


In a country that is as passionate for the beautiful game as Italy, the hunger for success always runs high. Since their 2006 FIFA World Cup triumph though, nothing of note has gone the national team’s way. They’ve been knocked out in the group stages of the competition in both the World Cups after the one that saw them beat France in the final around 11 years ago.

But for a country as prominent in the footballing fraternity as Italy, success never seems too far from where they are now. They did do well in the 2016 Euros under Antonio Conte, reaching the quarterfinals of the competition, only to be ousted by Germany on penalties. And while Conte may have left for Chelsea, the amount of talent that is coming through in the current Azzurri is just as talented as the ones in Germany, France or Spain.

One important part of this upcoming bandwagon is Cagliari midfielder Nicolo Barella.

Who is Nicolo Barella?

Born in Cagliari, the capital city of the Italian island of Sardinia, Barella was picked up by the Cagliari youth academy at a very young age. And over the years, the 20-year-old has done very well in progressing through all the junior sides at the club, first representing them back in 2012 in the Primavera A during the 2012-13 campaign.

He made 10 appearances in his debut season, scoring twice. A season in the Primavera B followed, when he made 18 appearances, playing in the heart of the park for the Cagliari Primavera outfit. The following season, Barella made his debut for the senior side, before captaining the U19 side twice in the Primavera B division.

His Serie A debut came against Parma in April, 2015 but the midfielder had become a regular face on the bench for his childhood club, which had sacked three managers that campaign. Appearances against Cesena and Udinese followed and the future seemed bright.

The next season proved to be a breakthrough one for the Italian, despite the rossoblu’s relegation to the Serie B after having finished third bottom of the league. Barella made 16 first team appearances in the 2015-16 season, often playing as an attacking midfielder and as a left winger as well. His impressive performances helped the side finish top of the Serie B, helping them restore the first division status. He spent the second half of the season on loan at Serie B side Como, making 21 appearances.

Last season, Barella made as many as 28 first team showings in the Serie A as a 19-year-old, playing as a central midfielder and as an attacking midfielder in an almost equal share. Cagliari finished 11th, with Barella emerging to be one of the best players throughout the campaign.

Photo by Claudio Villa / Getty Images

On the international stage, Barella is quickly climbing up the ladder of recognition. Ranging from the U15s outfit to the U20s one, the youngster has made appearances at all levels, with his debut for the Under-21s coming this past September. Barella was a regular part of the Italy U20s side that took part in this past summer’s Under-20s World Cup in South Korea.

What is his Style of Play?

Originally a central midfielder by trade, Barella’s vital ability to bomb forward with the ball makes him versatile enough to play anywhere in the three behind the striker as well. He may not be the quickest or the strongest, but he has the tenacity to dominate the heart of the park at will.

And it can very well be said that young Nicolo Barella is a complete midfielder, who is a jack of almost all the trades, but a master of none.

What are his Strengths?

One big advantage that Barella brings to the plate is his box to box nature and his engine, which can help him be equally active in either of the boxes to do a job for the side. It is his tenacity and hunger to always be on the ball and be at the center of things that makes him so.

Another thing that tenacity makes him do is recover balls in the heart of the park, despite a frame that isn’t too imposing- 5 foot 7 inches tall and weighing only 68 kilograms. This season, the Italian has won 2.9 tackles per game, making 1.4 interceptions per game too. He isn’t a typical defensive midfielder who sits in front of the back four and shields the defense, but likes to bomb forward with purpose very often.

Despite being a rather diminutive midfielder, Barella uses his body well to retain the ball and keep it away from the opposition players. Not just that, but the threat that this 20-year-old carries on the break when carrying the ball forward is substantial. This season, he has completed 1.4 dribbles per game and last season, he made 1 per game.

Above, watch how Barella’s impressive balance on the ball and directness helps the rossoblu find the back of the net on the counter-attack with perfection. After having picked up the ball in midfield, Barella does very well in running directly at the opposition, before setting up an on-rushing attacker to grab an impressive assist.

His tendency to give his all and cover every blade of grass on the pitch has often drawn comparisons to a former team-mate of his- Radja Nainggolan, who now plies his trade with Roma. And while Barella is well aware of these lofty comparisons, his performances don’t show signs of dipping.

What are his Weaknesses?

One slightly concerning aspect of Barella’s play is his tendency to be rash in the challenge and pick up unnecessary bookings. Last season, he picked up nine yellow cards and one red card throughout the season and has already picked up two yellows this season at the time of writing. Being aggressive is an important part of his repertoire, but a youngster such as him has to be careful with not crossing the line with it. It’s always good to have a bit of fire about oneself, but it can sometimes let one down too.

Kaustubh Pandey

Kaustubh Pandey

19, Football Writer, BackPageFootball, EPLIndex, ForzaItalianFootball, VAVEL. Manchester United fan. Aspiring football journalist.
Kaustubh Pandey

100 to Watch

Latest

Talent Radar6 days ago

U-22 Young Players’ Team of the Week #16: Youri Tielemans and Patrick Cutrone feature

A regular feature on our website is the Talent Radar Young Players Team of the Week with the best young...

Talent Radar2 weeks ago

Brasileirão U-23 Young Players’ Team of the Season 2017: Talent Radar

As the 2017 Brasileirao season has finished, it is time for us at Outside of the Boot to recognize the...

Talent Radar2 weeks ago

2017 Meiji Yasuda J1 League: Top 5 U-22 Players of the Season

Steven Davies sits down and takes a look at, who in his opinion, have been the best of a bright...

Opinions2 weeks ago

The Resurrection of Nicklas Bendtner

Harry Burford writes about the resurrection of Nicklas Bendtner. Whilst Denmark’s Nicklas Bendtner has all but disappeared from our collective footballing...

Bengaluru FC3 weeks ago

Analysis | Three Things We Learned: ATK 0-2 Bengaluru

Arinjay Ghosh discusses three talking points about the Indian Super League game that finished ATK 0-2 Bengaluru Bengaluru FC scored...

Indian Football4 weeks ago

Analysis | Three Things We Learned: ATK 1-2 Chennaiyin

Arinjay Ghosh discusses three talking points about the Indian Super League game that finished ATK 1-2 Chennaiyin Chennaiyin FC came...

Talent Radar1 month ago

U-22 Young Players’ Team of the Week #15: Franck Kessie and Leon Bailey feature

A regular feature on our website is the Talent Radar Young Players Team of the Week with the best young...

Indian Football1 month ago

Analysis | Three Things We Learned: Pune City 3-0 ATK

Naven Venkat discusses three talking points about the Indian Super League game that finished Pune City 3-0 ATK Playing the...

Indian Football1 month ago

Mohun Bagan Vs East Bengal: The Enduring Allure Of The Kolkata Derby

Arinjay Ghosh looks at the significance of the Kolkata Derby and why in the ever-changing landscape of Indian football, Mohun...

Indian Football1 month ago

Analysis | Three Things We Learned: Mumbai City 0-1 Kerala Blasters

Vatsal Dani discusses three talking points about the Indian Super League game that finished Mumbai City 0-1 Kerala Blasters Iain...

Bengaluru FC1 month ago

Analysis | Three Things We Learned: Delhi Dynamos 2-2 Bengaluru

Aakriti Mehrotra discusses three talking points about the Indian Super League game that finished Delhi Dynamos 2-0 Bengaluru When Delhi...

Bengaluru FC1 month ago

Analysis | Three Things We Learned: Bengaluru 1-0 ATK

Arnab Ray discusses three talking points about the Indian Super League game that finished Bengaluru 1-0 ATK With the Indian...

Indian Football1 month ago

Analysis | Three Things We Learned: Chennaiyin 2-2 Delhi Dynamos

Hrishi Anand discusses three talking points about the Indian Super League game that finished Chennaiyin 2-2 Delhi Dynamos Chennaiyin FC...

Indian Football2 months ago

Analysis | Three Things We Learned: ATK 1-1 FC Goa

Arinjay Ghosh discusses three talking points about the Indian Super League game that finished ATK 1-1 FC Goa FC Goa...

Indian Football2 months ago

Analysis | Three Things We Learned: Pune City 5-0 NorthEast United

Naven Venkat discusses three talking points about the Indian Super League game that finished Pune City 5-0 NorthEast United This...

Tactical Analysis2 months ago

Tactical Analysis: Real Madrid 0-3 Barcelona | Los Blancos Implode in the 2nd Half

Om Arvind provides a tactical analysis of the La Liga game that finished Real Madrid 0-3 Barcelona Barcelona were 11...

Indian Football2 months ago

Analysis | Three Things We Learned: ATK 1-0 Delhi Dynamos

Arinjay Ghosh discusses three talking points about the Indian Super League game that finished ATK 1-0 Delhi Dynamos ATK rode...

Indian Football2 months ago

Analysis | Three Things We Learned: Chennaiyin 1-1 Kerala Blasters

Hrishi Anand discusses three talking points about the Indian Super League game that finished Chennaiyin 1-1 Kerala Blasters Chennaiyin FC...

Tactical Analysis2 months ago

Tactical Analysis: Manchester City 4-1 Tottenham Hotspur | Guardiola extends winning run to 16

Siyang Xu provides a tactical analysis of the Premier League game that finished Manchester City 4-1 Tottenham Pep Guardiola guided...

100 to Watch in 20182 months ago

100 Best Young Players to Watch in 2018 | Part 10 | Forwards

Football News 24/7  For the 5th year running, Outside of the Boot has returned with our year’s special feature – a detailed...

Talent Radar Award History

Subscribe via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this site and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Young Player Rankings 17-18

More on Outside of the Boot

Previous Next
Close
Test Caption
Test Description goes like this