Tottenham Hotspur have been handed a boost in their pursuit of Nicolo Zaniolo.
That’s according to Gianluca Di Marzio, with the Italian journalist revealing in a recent interview with Wettfreunde (via The Express) that, despite the AS Roma midfielder being recently linked with a move to Arsenal, the 23-year-old is not interested in a switch to The Emirates, and instead would only be open to a move to Spurs – who were linked with the Italian this summer.
Regarding the Gunners’ reported interest in Zaniolo, Di Marzio said: “Nicolo Zaniolo only had one real request in the summer and that was Tottenham. Tottenham tried to get him but with a swap deal with other players or a loan option and AS Roma didn’t want to sell the player under those conditions.
“Now, like [Rafael] Leão and [Milan] Škriniar, it’s about Zaniolo’s contract – whether or not Roma will renew Zaniolo’s contract because his contract expires in a year and a half so they need to renew his contract if they want the contractual power if the player makes a request. Arsenal or other clubs? No.
“Only Tottenham can come back because Tottenham sporting director Fabio Paratici is one of the managers Zaniolo has wanted for a long time. Even when he was at Juventus.”
Considering the fact that Antonio Conte was reported to be extremely keen on bringing Zaniolo to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this summer, Di Marzio’s suggestion that the forward-thinking midfielder would only be open to a move to Spurs next summer is undoubtedly fantastic news for Paratici, while simultaneously likely to come as a blow for Arsenal.
And, it is not difficult to see why Conte is so eager to secure a deal for the 23-year-old, as the Italy international’s impressive positional versatility – being able to operate from central and attacking midfield, as well as a support striker and on the wing – coupled with his impressive returns for Roma would appear to make him a perfect fit for either of Spurs’ 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 set ups.
Indeed, according to FBref, the Italy international ranks in the top 6% of forwards in Europe’s big five leagues for shots per 90, in addition to the top 8% for shot-creating actions, the top 19% for progressive passes, the top 5% for progressive carries, the top 3% for dribbles completed and the top 16% for progressive passes received over the last 365 days.
Furthermore, the £30.5m-rated talent also ranks in the top 8% for interceptions per 90, in addition to the top 22% for tackles and the top 42% for pressures over the past 12 months – demonstrating how hard Zaniolo works in a defensive capacity, a trait that Conte is known to favour in his attacking players.
As such, should Zaniolo indeed become available in the transfer market at the end of the current campaign, it is easy to see why both Tottenham and Arsenal would be interested in a move for the £77k-per-week sensation, as the nine-cap international would undoubtedly add both a great deal of attacking threat and intense work-rate to either of the north London rivals’ squads.
However, following Di Marzio’s latest update, it would very much appear as if it is Paratici, Conte and Tottenham are currently in the driving seat for the player Nick Mercadante dubbed “unreal” next summer, something that will come as a huge boost to Spurs and a massive blow to Arteta and Arsenal.