That’s according to a report by 90min, who claim that, despite Jose Mourinho believed to be desperate to keep the 23-year-old at AS Roma beyond the closure of the summer transfer window next week, Antonio Conte and Fabio Paratici are still working on a deal to steal the forward away from the Serie A side in the coming days.
However, the report goes on to state that Chelsea have now joined the race for the Italy international, for whom Roma are thought to be demanding a fee of €50m (£42m) in order to part with this summer – be that an upfront payment or a season-long loan deal that includes an obligation to buy the attacker at the end of the current campaign.
Finally, it is claimed that both Conte and Thomas Tuchel view Zaniolo as a player who could operate either in attack or at a right-wing back, with the 52-year-old Tottenham manager recently revealing that he prefers his wing-backs to have a history of being deployed further up the pitch.
In comments cited by 90min, the Italian said: “The wing-back is really important if you play with three at the back. They’re important because it’s no good if they are too defensive because in this position you need to have quality. I like to have players that in the past were wingers because in this situation they are good at one vs one.”
Considering Zaniolo’s extremely impressive positional versatility, his obvious ability in possession of the ball and his potential for further growth and development in the future, the argument that the 23-year-old would be something of a dream signing for Conte to land over the remainder of the summer transfer window is an easy one to make.
Indeed, despite predominantly being deployed as an attacking midfielder – making 85 appearances in the position – so far in his career, the £34m-rated talent has also operated from central midfield 14 times, as a support striker 22 times, on the right wing 52 times, on the left wing nine times and as a centre-forward on four occasions – evidencing just how many options he would provide Conte following a potential switch to Spurs this summer.
Furthermore, according to FBref, the £75k-per-week attacker ranks in the top 3% of forwards in Europe’s big five leagues and European competitions for dribbles completed per 90, as well as the top 7% for progressive carries, the top 8% for shot-creating actions, the top 13% for shots and the top 14% for progressive passes over the last 365 days – proving how effective the nine-cap international is when moving the ball forwards for his side.
However, the player who Nick Mercadante dubbed both a “monster” and a “nightmare” also quite clearly works extremely hard in a defensive capacity, with FBref also ranking the 23-year-old in the top 13% of forwards for interceptions per 90, in addition to the top 14% for tackles and the top 33% for pressures over the past 12 months – demonstrating that the Romanista could indeed become an effective option at right wing-back under Conte.
As such, when taking all of the above into account, it is clear to see that Zaniolo’s versatility, ability and potential would indeed look to make him something of a dream signing for Spurs this summer – leading us to believe that Paratici simply must do everything in his power to land the Italian prior to September’s fast-approaching transfer deadline.