Italian journalist Luigi Garlando has weighed in on the special qualities that Inter midfielder Nicolo Barella brings to the Italian national team.

Reflecting on the player in a column for yesterday’s edition of Milan-based newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport, as reported by L’Interista, the journalist explained that Barella is a player who can change a game for the Azzurri, as he has for the Nerazzurri.

Given that the Azzurri’s opposition for today’s semi-final clash is the Spanish national team, Garlando finds it especially appropriate that two of the 24-year-old’s many special performances in an Inter shirt have come against Spanish opposition.

He notes that Barella was not initially considered to be a major talent in the Italian youth setup, but that legendary former AC Milan manager Arrigo Sacchi saw the potential in the midfielder who now stars for both his club and country.

Garlando’s words:

“The player closest to a match-winner [Italy] have is Nicolo Barella.With the goal he scored against Belgium, dancing past three Belgians, he showed how far he is from the stereotype of the pure ball-winner.”

“Even in Coverciano, as a boy, they had mistaken him for a mastiff with no future, and were about to off-load him. But Arrigo Sacchi, who at the time ran the youth teams and had a long eye, urged patience: ‘Let’s wait, in the heart of that raw talent there is gold.'”

“And in fact, over the years, the fighter who arrived from Sardinia has begun to shine and create. The Spaniards are waiting for him and they fear him. They have seen him play two huge matches with Conte’s Inter: the first, at the Camp Nou, and the second at Valdebebas against Real, with his backheel assist for Lautaro. And since then they have wanted him, like a handful of other top clubs.”