That’s according to a report by Italian publication Gazzetta dello Sport (via Sport Witness), who claim that the AS Roma midfielder has now asked to leave the Stadio Olimpico at the earliest possible opportunity, to which Jose Mourinho’s outfit have responded by categorically placing the 23-year-old ‘on the market’ – with the Italian’s asking price set at €40m (£35m).
This is sure to come as a huge boost to Eddie Howe, as the Magpies have recently been linked with the Italy international, however, it was previously suggested that a move for the midfielder was ‘not conceivable’ in the January transfer window, and that the Premier League side would have to wait until the summer to stand a chance of landing the 23-year-old.
Considering the sheer amount of ability and potential Zaniolo undoubtedly possesses, the argument that the Italian sensation would be an unreal signing for Howe to get over the line this month is an extremely easy one to make.
Indeed, according to FBref, the £12m-rated talent currently ranks in the top 4% of midfielders in Europe’s big five leagues for shots per 90, in addition to the top 17% for non-penalty xG, the top 12% for progressive passes received and the top 12% for touches in the opposition penalty area – proving just how dangerous the 11-cap international is in the final third.
Furthermore, FBref also rank the £79k-per-week playmaker in the top 6% of forwards in Europe’s big five leagues for dribbles completed per 90, as well as the top 13% for shot-creating actions, the top 13% for xAG – xG which follows a pass that assists a shot – and the top 39% for progressive passes – highlighting Zaniolo’s creativity when on the ball.
The 23-year-old also clearly puts the work in defensively, with FBref also ranking the former Inter Milan starlet in the top 23% of European forwards for blocks, the top 28% for tackles and the top 44% for interceptions per 90.
Aside from his evident technical ability, the player who journalist Nick Mercadante dubbed both a “monster” and “unreal” is incredibly versatile positionally, with the Italian being able to operate in central and attacking midfield, on either wing, as a support striker and even as an out and out number nine.
As such, should Howe manage to get a deal over the line for Zaniolo this winter, it is indeed easy to argue that the Romanista would represent an unreal signing for a club of the Magpies’ current standing – and would undoubtedly help to play a part in Newcastle launching an assault on the top four in the Premier League table come the end of the campaign.