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Italy star Nicolo Barella was in talks to sign for Chelsea.

Chelsea were linked with Nicolo Barella during the first half of last season, with Barella shaping up as some combination of a replacement for Cesc Fabregas, a deputy for Jorginho and a replacement for N’Golo Kante.

Compared to the other two players the Blues signed at Maurizio Sarri’s behest, Barella would have been a useful addition to the squad, although not at the eventual expense of Kante and not given what has shaped up as a glut of midfielders under Frank Lampard.

The Italian star had established himself as one of Cagliari’s key players and decided to stay at his boyhood club until the end of the season. The move obviously never happened, but Barella is still getting a chance to share in a recent Chelsea experience by spending the season with Antonio Conte at Inter Milan, who have an obligation to buy in his loan contract.

“Chelsea had been looking to sign me in January, the negotiations were concrete. At Cagliari I said: ‘It is not an easy time for the team, I will stay until the end of the season. Then I will make a decision'”, reflecting on the speculation linking him with a move to Stamford Bridge, Barella told Gazzetta dello Sport.

Barella has made a fine start to his career in Milan, scoring three goals and providing two assists in 13 appearances this season. Discussing his relationship with former Chelsea boss Conte, the Italy international added:

“Conte has a different attitude, a way of talking to you that gives you something new.

“I would die for him, that applies to all his players. And that makes the difference. Do you see how Conte’s teams run? It is not only because they are well prepared. It is the outcome of what he puts in your head”, he concluded.

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