Marca cites Corriere dello Sport in reporting that before the COVID-19 pandemic, Barcelona had made an offer for Sandro Tonali, but the Italian had rejected the offer. The Italian has been subject to a lot of interests from clubs across Europe, but till now he has remained at Brescia.
The rise of Sandro Tonali
The 20-year-old is regarded by many as the next Andrea Pirlo because of three striking similarities. Firstly, he plays in the same position as the Italian legend. Also, he has started his career at Brescia. Finally, there is a striking resemblance in his looks with Pirlo, instigating many to consider him as a replacement of the Italian World Cup winner. However, we feel that there is a long way to go for Tonali to be compared to Pirlo, but he is moving in the right direction.
In 2017, Tonali was moved into the senior squad after graduating from the youth set up, and pretty soon he became a regular in the first team. At that point of time, the club was languishing in the second division. However, the performances of the Italy international ensured their passage in Serie A in only his second season. Even this term, he has done brilliantly for the team garnering interest in him from scouts worldwide.
The biggest asset of Tonali is his vision. Although he has only completed only 73.9% of his total passes, the balls that he has delivered have been incisive. He can penetrate the defence of the opposition with his long balls, thus amassing a figure of 2.7 long balls delivered per game. This is the most prominent trait that has made the critics compare him to Pirlo. Also, he has completed 2.1 key passes per game this term, being a constant threat for the opposition.
However, despite all these, there are areas of his game which need definite improvements. His conversion rate is still low, and in 76 matches for the Serie A team, he has scored only six times. For a player whose primary position is the central-midfield, he needs to improve his work-rate and defensive contributions. With an athletic build, one would expect him to be a barricade in front of the back four, but that has not been the case till now.
Do Barcelona need him?
The Catalan giants are known to rope in talented young players and groom them into world-class footballers, and Tonali could be another such player. However, last season they brought in Dutch youngster Frenkie de Jong in almost the same position, and this could have been a factor in the Italian’s mind before rejecting the offer. De Jong is considered as a future star and could be the midfield general of the side for a long time to come.
Sergio Busquets, however, is already 31 and it would not be long before the Spaniard moves into the role of a mentor, thereby making space for someone like Tonali. Therefore it can be safely presumed that although Tonali would not have been a regular at this moment, there would have been chances for him to feature regularly in the side in the near future. The combination of De Jong and Tonali would have been mouthwatering and one that the Barca fans would be hoping to see in the future.
Stats from Whoscored.
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