Nicolo Barella may be a £45 million ($58m) target for Chelsea, but Italy manager Roberto Mancini has sounded a warning to the Cagliari midfielder ahead of any potential big-money move.
Goal revealed recently that the 21-year-old has been identified as a top target by Maurizio Sarri, amid competition from Serie A heavyweights Inter.
The Chelsea boss sees the highly-rated youngster as a natural successor to Cesc Fabregas, who has completed a £10m ($13m) switch to Monaco.
It would appear to be only a matter of time before Barella finds himself on the move, with it expected that his potential will soon be given a grander stage on which to flourish.
Mancini, though, has called upon a member of his Azzurri squad to give careful consideration to any future call, with it imperative that gets assurances of regular game time before heading anywhere.
The former Inter and Manchester City boss told Gazzetta dello Sport: “I was telling [Marco] Tardelli at the Coverciano training ground that Barella moves a lot like him.
“He has technique, quality, rarely loses the ball, is good in the air despite not being tall, never gives up and tends to push forward, but needs to also score a few more goals.
“Considering his age and the relative lack of Serie A experience, he has a strong grasp on his role already.
“Barella can set the example for the young Italian players out there who can give a little more to make that step up.
“He has enormous potential for growth and if he does leave Cagliari, he must be certain that he gets to play regularly.
“If he does go to a big club and is a first choice, then he can improve far more.
“However, if he risks spending half the season on the bench, he should stay put.”
Barella has been part of the senior set-up at Cagliari since making his debut in May 2015.
He is fast closing in on 100 appearances for the club and has shown himself to be a more than capable performer in the Italian top-flight.
Chelsea would welcome the opportunity to bring his obvious potential onto their books, but they do boast several alternative options in the middle of the park.
Sarri is, however, building for the present and future and will hope to convince an exciting prospect that he can play a leading role in those plans.