Nicolo Zaniolo: Leeds United looking to end banished forward’s AS Roma stand-off

Leeds United are looking to complete a complicated deadline-day swoop for AS Roma forward Nicolo Zaniolo after he was frozen out by the Giallorossi. The story has been full of twists, but how did we get here?


Leeds United are making a deadline day effort to swoop for wantaway AS Roma forward Nicolo Zaniolo, as the Italian international seeks to cut all ties with the Serie A club after a bitter dispute. A switch to Elland Road could be his last opportunity to secure any meaningful football this season after being frozen out at the Lupi, following a failed move to Bournemouth.

As reported by The Independent, Leeds are in talks with Roma over a deal for Zaniolo and are keen to bring him to the Premier League, after raiding Serie A for Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie on Monday.

The Whites have already concluded business with Roma by sending Spanish international centre-back Diego Llorente to the Stadio Olimpico on loan with an option for a permanent deal in the summer, and are hoping to build on these talks to secure an agreement for Zaniolo.

Nicolo Zaniolo tries to get AS Roma back into the game against Lazio. [@OfficialASRoma]

Leicester City may hold key to Zaniolo transfer

However, there are multiple factors that are making any transfer difficult, with Roma keen to make an example of Zaniolo after his transfer demands and refusal to play for the club complicating matters. The Lupi had agreed a €30 million deal with Bournemouth, only for the player to reject the Cherries, and so will not sanction a deal unless that figure is met by Leeds.

The English club could raise funds by selling winger Jack Harrison to Leicester City, but are still considering transferring the former Manchester City man and this is delaying talks with Roma, despite Zaniolo being keen to move to Elland Road.

It is reported that Leeds have proposed a loan with an option to buy in the summer, whilst Roma are adamant that he will only leave the Italian capital on a permanent basis this month.

Why is Zaniolo no longer welcome at AS Roma?

Zaniolo sent shockwaves through Roma’s Trigoria training ground earlier this month when he made clear his desire to leave the club immediately, amidst interest from AC Milan.

Jose Mourinho watches on after being sent off. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

The Rossoneri were keen to swoop for him, but were only ready to propose a loan deal and this was duly turned down by Roma.

Giallorossi President Dan Friedkin and Sporting Director Tiago Pinto are said to have been dismayed by the former Inter academy talent’s conduct, particularly after Roma nursed him through two serious knee injuries and coach Jose Mourinho has regularly made a point of defending him.

After Zaniolo made it known that he did not want to be considered for selection in recent Serie A matches against Spezia and Napoli, and rejected a move to Bournemouth after Sky Sport Italia reported that he refused to even meet with representatives of the Cherries, Mourinho‘s patience appeared to have run out.

Zaniolo has been saying for a month that he wants to leave. Unfortunately, it looks like I was right,” Mourinho declared in his press conference ahead of Sunday’s 2-1 defeat to Napoli.

“I say unfortunately because he has been saying for a month that he wants to leave. If a player tells everyone he no longer wants to wear the Roma shirt, I must say unfortunately.

“When a player tells you, the club and his teammates, “I don’t want to wear the Roma shirt, I don’t want to play, I don’t want to go back to training”, then I have to say unfortunately.

“The ideal situation is for the player to be happy. I said that I expected him to stay, but as things stand, I have to add unfortunately to that sentence.”

Leeds offer escape for Zaniolo

Zaniolo has now been frozen out at Roma and is no longer being considered for the first team, with La Gazzetta dello Sport suggesting that the Lupi are ready to leave him on the sidelines until the summer and attempt to move him on then.

Should Leeds find a solution with Roma, the forward is ready to make the switch to West Yorkshire and link up with Italy teammate Wilfried Gnonto.

Having established himself as one of the brightest prospects in Serie A prior to two serious injuries, Zaniolo has struggled for form this season and only scored twice in 17 appearances in all competitions.


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