Nicolò Zaniolo admits he is ‘pleased’ at interest from Milan, Juventus and more, reveals he was too shy to speak with idol Zlatan Ibrahimovic and thanks Jose Mourinho for teaching him to ‘bite my tongue’ at Roma.
The Italy international has repeatedly been linked with a move away from the Stadio Olimpico this summer, as his contract is up in June 2024 and negotiations over a renewal have not progressed.
It is reported the club put a €65m price-tag on him, cash only and no player exchanges, but so far Milan and Juve have not stumped up the required figure.
“It is pleasing to be the subject of interest from big clubs, as if they think about you, it means you’re good,” Zaniolo told La Gazzetta dello Sport magazine Sportweek.
“I train with even more motivation, as I want to prove it’s right that I’ve been linked with these top clubs.”
Meanwhile, he had a mixed campaign, returning after two devastating knee injuries and winning the Conference League, but also seeing many cards and clashes with Mourinho.
“Mourinho is a winner, he taught me to get involved in defending and I know I need to improve in that area. He also helped me deal with certain situations that in the past I would’ve reacted badly to, for instance being dropped from significant matches. He taught me to bite my tongue: silence on the pitch and work harder.
“What I need to do next season is not fall into pointless provocation.”
However, Zaniolo also has some issues with the varying roles given at the Stadio Olimpico alongside Tammy Abraham.
“The 3-5-2 formation doesn’t get the best out of my characteristics, I prefer a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1, but if the coach decides to use me as a second striker, I have to give 100 per cent there.
“Abraham is a lovely guy, always happy and calm. If I was to leave Roma, I’d miss many people, and Abraham is one of them.”
When asked if he could be the heir to Paulo Dybala at Juventus, the Italian does not step back from the question.
“It seems excessive, but of course it’s pleasing. He is a fantastic player, unique. We’ll see, life is unpredictable and you never know what might happen in future. I will just train and wait.”
Milan also represent one of the contenders for Zaniolo’s signature and they have his “idol” Ibrahimovic in the squad.
“I made a dream come true by playing on the same pitch as Ibrahimovic. I didn’t talk to him, but I studied him: the way he approaches the game, his movement, what a charismatic leader he is.”
Why didn’t Zaniolo speak to Ibra if they were playing against each other?
“I was too shy to get close… I admired him from afar. I’m glad Milan won the Scudetto in the end.”
— La Gazzetta dello Sport (@Gazzetta_it) June 17, 2022