Barcelona failed in a big-money bid for Brescia starlet Sandro Tonali before football across Europe was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic
Tonali has established himself as one of Europe’s hottest young prospects after breaking into the first team and helping the club gain promotion to Serie A. He has gone on to impress in Italy’s top flight in 2019-20.
“Nasser would like to have him in Paris, he wrote me today. But he doesn’t want to go to France. He prefers Inter and Juve. De Laurentiis has offered me £36 million, Fiorentina are ready to do whatever it takes, but his fate is more or less sealed. Before the coronavirus, Barcelona had arrived at €65m ($72m) plus two very interesting guys valued €7.5m each, one was a defender. I think the Catalan leaders received an answer they didn’t like. And not from Tonali.”
Tonali’s agent has warned the youngster against moving away from Spain. Beppe Bozzo told Carlo Laudiso at Gazzetta dello Sport that Tonali would be better off staying in Serie A where he can “immediately establish himself at a top club.”
Tonali Tipped to Be ‘The Next Pirlo’
Brescia’s young starlet has already been tipped to become ‘the next Pirlo.’ It’s a label that Andrea Pirlo himself is not too sure about. He told Gazzetta dello Sport why he thinks the comparison is wrong.
“He is very good but he is different from me on the pitch. He has everything to be a champion but he is more a midfielder for a two-man midfield. He could already play for a great team; he is the best in this league.”
Tonali has already been called up for national duty by Italy manager Roberto Mancini. The midfielder made his debut in a 5-0 win over Liechtenstein in Euro 2020 qualifying in October 2019. His first start for the Azzurri came a month later in a 3-0 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Roma legend Francesco Totti has also spoken about Tonali, in an Instagram Live with Paolo Bonolis, and has backed the youngster to go on and “become one of the top central players in the world.”
Barcelona’s Midfield Is Already Overcrowded
Barcelona’s interest in Tonali comes as something of a surprise given the club hardly lack for midfield options. The Catalan giants splashed out heavily to bring Frenkie de Jong to the club last summer from Ajax. He joined Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic, Arthur and Arturo Vidal at the club. The versatile Sergi Roberto is also an option in midfield.
The Spanish champions also have a number of promising youngsters hoping to make the breakthrough. Carles Alena, who joined Real Betis on loan in January, and 20-year-old Riqui Puig have been tipped for big things. Barcelona B’s Alex Collado has also trained with the first-team squad this season.
Yet players such as Busquets, Rakitic and Vidal are into the thirties and heading towards the end of their careers. Rakitic and Vidal face uncertain futures at Barca with the club willing to sell but both players in no rush to leave.