Chelsea were close to sign 22-year-old Serie A star in January

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Italy midfielder Nicolo Barella has announced he held ‘concrete’ negotiations with Chelsea last winter before deciding to stay in Italy.

Premier League outfit Chelsea were one of several clubs who showed interest in signing 22-year-old Barella last year.

Italy international had proved himself as one of Cagliari’s key players and chose to stay at his boyhood club till the end of the season.

In the summer transfer window, Barella joined Antonio Conte’s Inter Milan on an initial loan agreement with an obligation to buy.

Following on the speculation linking him with a transfer to Stamford Bridge, Barella told Gazzetta dello Sport: ‘Chelsea had been looking to sign me in January, the negotiations were concrete.

‘At Cagliari, I said: “It is not an easy time for the team, I will stay until the end of the season. Then I will make a decision”.’

Italian talent has made an excellent start to his career in Milan, netting three goals and providing two assists in 13 games this season.

Discussing his relationship with former Chelsea manager Conte, Nicolo Barella added: ‘He [Conte] has a different attitude, a way of talking to you that gives you something new.

‘I’d die for him, that applies to all his players. And that makes the difference. Do you see how Conte’s teams run?

‘It’s not only because they are well prepared. It is the outcome of what he puts in your head.

‘Years ago, I wrote all my goals down. The first was to get to Serie A with Cagliari: I succeeded. Then there was also the one to wear the Inter shirt: done.’