Newcastle have joined some of Europe’s big guns chasing the signature of Roma’s 19-year-old youngster Nicolò Zaniolo, widely regarded as one of the top talents in Italy.
Lee Ryder of the Newcastle Chronicle reports that the Toon have scouted the 6ft 3in midfielder as a potential replacement for Mo Diame, whose contract is up at the end of the season and may be allowed to leave — such is the faith Rafa has placed in the currently sidelined Sean Longstaff.
With Jonjo Shelvey’s future also uncertain, the promise of a central midfield duo made up with a pair of teenagers is exciting for fans, with what they lack in Premier League experience being countered by sheer talent.
Ironically, Zaniolo ended up at Roma thanks to a summer swap deal with Inter Milan, which saw former Magpie Davide Santon join him there with Radja Nainggolan going in the opposite direction.
But with Spanish giants Real Madrid and Serie A runaway leaders Juventus both eyeing reportedly the starlet, who has four Italy U-21 caps to his name, it will be a tough battle to lure him to Tyneside.
The very fact that Rafa Benitez is looking at players like Zaniolo should be seen as a positive for Newcastle fans, as they maintain hope that the Spaniard will pen a new contract at the club.
Many managers whose contract are winding down at a club would be looking out for themselves in terms of the summer months, but it is testament to the man that Rafa is, that he is still concerned only with the future of Newcastle United.
Could this planning be a sign that Rafa is closer to signing a contract extension at Gallowgate? The black and white faithful will certainly hope so.
We think that a player with the calibre of Zaniolo would be a fantastic signing for Newcastle, if a little risky with his lack of experience. What do you think Toon fans? Have your say below…