Arsenal are also said to be interested Cagliari midfielder Nicolo Barella.
Given that Aaron Ramsey is set to end his long association with the club come the summer, the Italian could well be the player to come in and replace the Welsh international.
football.London understands that the Gunners are prioritising are left-back, a wide attacker and a replacement for Ramsey in the summer, while reports in Italy claim Barella is a target for head coach Unai Emery.
Linked with Manchester United and Liverpool, as well as a number of clubs back in his home country, Emery will have a fight on his hands if he and Raul Sanllehi are intent on luring the Italian international to the capital this summer.
Much would depend on if the north London outfit are able to seal a return to the Champions League next season as that would result in an transfer budget increase for the Spanish tactician.
With that said, here’s everything you need to know about the next superstar emerging from Italy.
Who is he?
Barella is a midfielder who has caught the eye in Italy ever since making his league debut for Cagliari in May 2015 against Parma.
Sent on loan to Como in January 2016 with chances in the first team hard to come by at Sardenga Arena, the move was just what the youngster needed as he got some regular first-team football under his belt.
Making 30 appearances for Cagliari upon his return ahead of the 2016/17 season, it would be the following year when the talented player would start adding goals to his game.
Opening his account for the club in the 2-0 win over SPAL last September, Barella went on to score a further five goals over the course of the season.
His performances saw him rewarded with his first call-up to the Italian national team over a year ago having represented his country at every age level, although it would be this month when he finally made his bow for the Azzurri.
A box-to-box midfielder who is capable of playing any role in the middle of the park, Barella was even compared to Liverpool hero Steven Gerrard by Gazzetta dello Sport following his eye-catching performances.
A player with great vision, strength and an eye for a pass, as well as having the ability to win the ball back and chip in with a few goals, it seems that the midfielder will go all the way to the top if he continues to impress.
How has he done this season?
Very well. Barella has continued to impress for Cagliari so far this term despite an indifferent season for I Rossoblu.
Netting his first goal of the campaign in the 1-0 win over Atalanta at the start of September, the midfielder has made 29 appearances in all competitions for Rolando Maran’s side.
As well as impressing for his club, Barella is now making an impression on the international stage for his country.
Handed his Azzurri debut against Ukraine alongside Jorginho and Marco Veratti in the middle of the park, the 21-year-old certainly didn’t look out of place.
Speaking after the match, Italy boss Roberto Mancini said: “Barella was very good, he made an excellent match. It was easier to debut today at home rather than Portugal away.”
Impressive in the draw with Ukraine, Barella then took his game to another level in the 1-0 win over Poland and even earned comparisons with the great Marco Tardelli.
The midfielder netted his first goal at senior international level in the 2-0 win over Finland at the weekend, breaking the deadlock after seven minutes in the Euro 2020 qualifier.
Who wants him?
Plenty of clubs are believed to be in the race to sign Barella from Cagliari.
Juventus unsurprisingly are said to be keen on a deal for the highly-rated midfielder, while both Milan clubs and Roma are also said to be interested in the 21-year-old.
Atletico Madrid have also tried to sign him in the past, although president Tommaso Giulini made it quite clear he wouldn’t be sold to Diego Simeone’s side.
There’s also believed to be interest in the Premier League with Spurs, Liverpool and Manchester United mentioned, while reports in Italy have suggested that Arsenal have been to watch the player in action.
Gazzetta dello Sport (via Sport Witness) claim that scouts from the club have watched Barella and ‘noted down his qualities’ to pass onto head coach Emery.
Furthermore, Cagliari owner Tommaso Giulini admitted that Chelsea and Napoli wanted to sign the 22-year-old in January: “I can’t deny this. Napoli’s interest was concrete in January. Yes [Sarri wanted him too].”
How much is he worth?
It appears that clubs will have to fork out big money if they are to sign Barella.
Tipped to be sold for upwards of €50million, that price could well continue to skyrocket if he continues to catch the eye with his impressive performances in Serie A.
While there will no doubt be interest in the player once the transfer window reopens at the turn of the year, it looks like it will be the summer if and when he does depart as Cagliari don’t want to lose their prized asset midway through the season.
What has Barella said about his future?
Barella claimed that he would be open to a move to the Premier League in the future during an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport.
“If I had to choose between Serie A and the Premier League, I’d go for England, because I like the way they approach the game,” he said.
“Plus everyone there is just as irritable and prone to fouls as me!”
However, he said in a further interview that he is only concentrating on playing for his club at the moment at present.
“I’m not the one who sorts out the transfers,” added Barella. “It’s the agents, presidents and clubs who do that. I only think about Cagliari and to stay up in the league. We’ll see about the rest.
“The interest from big clubs is pleasing, and makes me proud. It means I’m doing the right things.”
What has been said about him?
“Barella’s the player who can change the tempo in midfield.
“He gives something more in terms of quality and quantity, which we lacked before.
“He reminds me a bit of Tardelli on a dynamic level.” (Goal)
“He is extraordinary. I put him as a playmaker in front of the defence towards the end and he didn’t put a foot wrong.
“He just gets better and better.
“He is a player who is ready and can be a key figure in the Nazionale going forward.” (Football Italia)