That’s according to a report by Italian publication Corriere dello Sport (via Sport Witness), who claim that, despite Fabio Paratici coming very close to agreeing a deal with Tiago Pinto for the transfer of the 23-year-old, the Friedkin family – the owners of AS Roma – pulled the plug on the midfielder’s switch to north London at the last minute.
The report goes on to state that, barring any late twists or turns over the remaining days of the summer transfer window – something that would appear to be a team meeting Roma’s €50m (£42.5m) asking price for the Italy international – Zaniolo will be staying at the Stadio Olimpico beyond September’s transfer deadline.
Considering just how keen on Zaniolo’s signing Antonio Conte has appeared to be over the course of the summer, the news that Paratici’s pursuit of the 23-year-old now appears to be all but over is sure to have come as a gutting blow to the 52-year-old manager.
Indeed, it is well known that the former Inter Milan, Juventus and Chelsea head coach wants to add an attacking midfielder to his Tottenham squad prior to the transfer window’s closure next month, with the AS Roma star very much looking to have been the Italian’s first-choice target.
This is evidenced by a recent claim made by Italian journalist Xavier Jacobelli, who stated in an interview with Radio Radio: “Conte wants Zaniolo at Tottenham, he values him very much.”
And, considering just how impressive the nine-cap international was for Jose Mourinho’s side last season, it is not difficult to understand why the Spurs manager would be interested in a deal to bring the £34m-rated talent to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the coming days.
Indeed, over his ten appearances in the Europa Conference League in 2021/22, the £75k-per-week midfielder played a key role in Roma’s European triumph, scoring five goals, providing four assists and creating three big chances for his teammates, as well as taking an average of 2.0 shots, making 1.1 key passes and completing 0.8 dribbles per game.
These returns saw the player who Nick Mercadante dubbed a “nightmare” average a quite remarkable SofaScore match rating of 7.11, ranking him as the Giallorossi’s sixth-best performer in the tournament.
Furthermore, with Zaniolo also being able to operate from central or attacking midfield, on either flank, as a support striker or as a centre-forward, the 23-year-old’s rather astonishing versatility would very much appear to make him an ideal fit for Conte’s tactical setup at Spurs – allowing the 52-year-old to switch from a 3-4-3 to his typically preferred 3-5-2 setup.
As such, it is clear to see that the Roma star would indeed represent a sensational addition to Tottenham’s current options in the middle of the park, however, following the latest update from Italy, it would now appear as if Conte and Paratici must turn their focus elsewhere over the remainder of the current market – an outcome that is sure to be extremely disappointing for the 52-year-old.