Liverpool are long-term admirers of Roma’s Nicolo Zaniolo and could make a move for him this summer, according to Gazzetta dello Sport (via Sport Witness).
Zaniolo, 22, is predominantly a right winger but he’s also played 17 matches this season in a second striker role. That means he could provide cover and competition for Mohamed Salah, but may also be able to operate as a false nine in the manner of Roberto Firmino, for example.
And it seems Julian Ward, taking over as sporting director from Michael Edwards, could look to find more success by shopping in the Italian capital.
Zaniolo has just over two years remaining on his deal at the Stadio Olimpico, though his current focus may be on preparations for the Europa Conference League final against Feyenoord on 25 May.
His hat-trick against Bodo/Glimt last month helped steer Jose Mourinho’s side into the semifinals.
The Italian press claim Zaniolo has been a Liverpool target for some time, so this is seemingly an Edwards target being carried over into Ward’s new role.
If the player is to extend his stay at Roma, he wants a contract worth €4million per year, which equates to about £65,000 per week, says the report. But if he’s to leave, he won’t be short of suitors, either domestically or abroad.
Juventus and AC Milan are waiting in the wings, and the player’s first instinct is apparently to remain in Italy.
He would apparently find it difficult to turn down a ‘super offer’ from overseas though, as Liverpool and Antonio Conte’s Tottenham Hotspur ‘have continued to monitor him for some time’.
It’s thought that he would cost somewhere between €65million and €70million (£55.3million-£59.5million).
Is Zaniolo good enough for Liverpool? His goals/assists record this season is good without being spectacular – seven scored, eight assisted in 39 appearances across all competitions.
But it’s important to remember that he’s still a young player and that his development has badly affected by injury. The Italian suffered two anterior cruciate ligament injuries in the space of a year, so patience may be required.
What’s more, some of Zaniolo’s underlying numbers are strong. He records a high volume of dribbles (81st percentile), touches in the attacking penalty area and progressive passes received (both 80th), highlighting his technical proficiency and intelligent movement.
This is the former Serie A Young Player of the Year, and Klopp may believe he can unlock his potential.
In other news, Liverpool may have found a Jordan Henderson replacement.
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