CHELSEA were interested in a January swoop for Cagliari midfielder Nicolo Barella, according to the Italian club’s chairman.
The 21-year-old is widely regarded as one of the best young prospects in Serie A with a host of European teams tracking his progress.
He has also been hailed by Italian great Andrea Pirlo as “one of the best players in Italy”.
And according to Corriere dello Sport, Maurizio Sarri was keen to bring him over to Stamford Bridge before the transfer window slammed shut.
But Cagliari were determined to hold on to their £40million-rated star.
Tommaso Giulini told the Italian newspaper: “Barella was never close to a January exit.
“I cannot deny that there was concrete interest from Napoli in January.
“Maurizio Sarri also wanted him at Chelsea. As for Inter, that was just a chat, nothing more.”
Cagliari are desperate to hold on their prized asset but a bid in excess of £40m in the summer could seriously test their resolve.
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Liverpool and Tottenham have also been keeping tabs on Barella who revealed his rejected the chance to quit Cagliari last summer.
However, the Premier League sides face stiff competition from Juventus, Milan and Roma who all want to keep Barella in Serie A.
Barella’s impressive performances were rewarded with as he received his first senior cap for Italy in the 0-0 draw with Portugal in October.