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Club president confirms Chelsea are desperate to sign €50m Italy international

Maurizio Sarri urged Chelsea to sign Cagliari midfielder Nicolo Barella, according to the Italian club’s president Tommaso Giulini.

Sarri was desperate for Chelsea to sign a replacement for Cesc Fabregas, who was allowed to complete his move to Monaco in the January transfer window. Reports claimed that both Sarri and his assistant Gianfranco Zola were pushing Chelsea’s hierarchy to make a move for Barella.

But Giulini has revealed that the 22-year-old was always likely to remain at Cagliari for the rest of the season. ‘Barella was never close to a January exit,’ Giulini told the Corriere dello Sport.

‘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.’

When asked about Barella’s €50 million (£42.7m) valuation, Giulini admitted the midfielder’s price tag will only rise.

‘Maybe it’ll take more, seeing as next year it is his beloved Cagliari’s Centenary,’ Giulini said. ‘I don’t know what his future holds, but he is a player who can grow a great deal more.

‘We hope he can continue to do that while wearing our jersey. It’s banal to make the comparison, but he does remind me of Radja Nainggolan, even if Nicolo is more technically-gifted than Radja.’