Roma attacking midfielder Nicolo Zaniolo has attracted plenty of interest after scoring the winning goal for Jose Mourinho’s team in the Europa Conference League final
Zaniolo had missed the entire 2020-21 season – as well as the European Championships at the end of the campaign – due to a cruciate ligament injury. He returned last season under Mourinho, however, and scored the winning goal for Roma as they beat Feyenoord to win the inaugural Europa Conference League.
The 22-year-old’s form last season has seen him attract interest from some of Serie A’s big hitters. Roma have slapped a big price tag on the Italian international, though, and he has been speaking about the reports linking him with the likes of AC Milan and Juventus.
“It is pleasing to be the subject of interest from big clubs, as if they think about you, it means you’re good,” Zaniolo told La Gazzetta dello Sport magazine Sportweek (via Football Italia ). I train with even more motivation, as I want to prove it’s right that I’ve been linked with these top clubs.”
He also opened up on Mourinho specifically, after some run-ins with the boss. “Mourinho is a winner, he taught me to get involved in defending and I know I need to improve in that area,” he said.
“He also helped me deal with certain situations that in the past I would’ve reacted badly to, for instance being dropped from significant matches,” Zaniolo continued. “He taught me to bite my tongue: silence on the pitch and work harder. What I need to do next season is not fall into pointless provocation.”
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In addition to Milan and Juve, a number of Premier League clubs have been linked with Zaniolo. Newcastle United reportedly tried their luck with a bid, while Manchester United have also been mentioned as potential suitors, but the player is not thought to be keen to leave Italy.
The youngster, who has featured on the wing and in an attacking midfield role for the Giallorossi, has been valued at €65m (£56m) by the club. However, with Juventus potentially seeking a replacement for Paulo Dybala as the forward prepares to leave Turin, Zaniolo was quizzed on his suitability as a potential successor to the Argentina international.
“It seems excessive, but of course it’s pleasing,” he said. “He is a fantastic player, unique. We’ll see, life is unpredictable and you never know what might happen in future. I will just train and wait.”
Roma’s position could be impacted by the fact that they failed to qualify for next season’s Champions League. Mourinho’s men finished sixth in Serie A, eight points behind fourth-place Juventus, though they would have qualified for the Europa League even with a lower league finish thanks to their triumph in the Europa Conference League final.