“Into his prime” – Steven Gerrard lauds Nicolo Barella amid Liverpool scouting claims

Steven Gerrard hailed the quality of Nicolo Barella ahead of Inter Milan’s Champions League victory over rivals AC Milan at the San Siro.

The former Liverpool captain watched on as the Italian midfielder helped inspire a 2-0 win in the first leg of the semi-final of the Milan derby on Wednesday night.

Barella is one of many midfielders to have been linked with a move to the Reds as Jurgen Klopp looks to refresh in that area of the pitch this summer.

The 26-year-old has reportedly piqued the interest of Liverpool scouts in recent weeks, with Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio telling Sky Sports that the Reds are “one of the most interested clubs” when it comes to Barella’s signature.

MUNICH, GERMANY - JULY 02: Nicolo Barella of Italy celebrates after scoring their side's first goal during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Quarter-final match between Belgium and Italy at Football Arena Munich on July 02, 2021 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Sebastian Widmann - UEFA)

Gerrard was full of praise for Inter’s No. 23 as he previewed the Champions League showdown in Milan having seen his performance against England in the UEFA Nation’s League earlier this year.

“He did really well against the England midfield – your Jude Bellinghams and your Declan Rices,” Gerrard said while on punditry for BT Sport prior to Wednesday’s semi-final.

“He’s at a good age as well, coming into his prime, and it’s a big night for him coming up against one of his team-mates in Sandro Tonali and it will be interesting to see who comes out on top, as we know the midfield area is so important.”

The notion of the Italian approaching his “prime” years highlights that, at 26, he is a couple of years older than the majority of Liverpool’s reported midfield targets.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, February 21, 2023: Former Liverpool players (L-R) Michael Owen, Peter Crouch and Steven Gerrard working for BT Sport during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 1st Leg game between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Moises Caicedo and Ryan Gravenberch are both still in their early 20s, with Alexis Mac Allister and Mason Mount both aged 24.

Barella is not likely to come cheap should the Reds decide to make a move for him this summer.

Varying reports have seen the player valued between €50 million and €75 million, with Sky Sports‘ Melissa Reddy indicating that the player could be available for around £50 million.

Liverpool are almost certain to add a number of high-profile midfielders to their ranks in the transfer window and Barella looks to have caught the eye of perhaps the club’s greatest-ever player in that position.