Tottenham and Bayern Munich target Nicolo Zaniolo looks set to sign a new deal at Roma, dashing hopes that he could be on the move this summer.
Zaniolo, 19, joined as part of the swap deal that sent Radja Nainggolan to Inter Milan last June and has impressed greatly across his 35 appearances in all competitions.
The twice-capped Italy international has bagged six goals in total, alerting some of Europe’s heavyweights, but the teenager looks likely to remain in the Eternal City for the foreseeable future after claiming he is happy at Stadio Olimpico
“I still have four years left on my contract and I’m happy here. I see my future at Roma,” Zaniolo told Sky Sport Italia.
“My agent will talk to the club at the end of the season.
“It’s always pleasing to have interest from great teams, but I’m focused on Roma and the last two league games.
“I’m positive about the [contract] renewal and I’m happy to stay.”
Zaniolo’s words will come as a relief to Roma after they announced Daniele De Rossi’s impending departure.
Roma will need Zaniolo to continue his eye-catching development next term as they seek to compensate for the loss of their iconic captain.
That is according to SPORT who claim the highly-coveted teenage centre-back will arrive at the Camp Nou this summer in a deal worth €70 million.
Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who got the deal for De Jong over the line, has reportedly taken charge of the De Ligt deal too, although it is believed nothing will be finalised until after the Copa del Rey final against Valencia in Seville on May 25.
Barca have long been keen on the Dutch club’s captain and have been in regular contact over recent months, but talks are said to be more complicated than with De Jong, mainly due to the fact De Ligt’s agent is Mino Raiola, who asks for huge amounts of commission and looks to start auctions on his players.
De Ligt’s desire, though, is clearly to follow De Jong to Catalonia, and he is believed to have turned down offers from Juventus and Bayern Munich.
De Ligt’s continued growth and performances with Ajax in the Champions League have extended the move due to other suitors going crazy and offering big money for De Ligt, more than Barca offered in their most recent meeting, allegedly.
But Barca, De Ligt and Raiola have met face to face on three occasions in three different cities.
SPORT have learned that the player’s intention is, once the Dutch season ends (Ajax have their final game on Wednesday and should win the title), to enjoy 10 days off before he has to join up with the Dutch national team on May 24.
Holland are preparing for the UEFA Nations League final four. They have England in the semi-final. Before that, De Ligt wants his future tied down.
Antoine Griezmann‘s decision to leave Atletico Madrid has plunged the club into chaos and fired the starting gun for a summer scramble among Europe’s elite.
Top scorer in each of his five seasons, Griezmann was the stardust of Atleti, offering spontaneity and craft in a team renowned for discipline and grit.
But he grafted too, which is why he was the perfect fit. Griezmann would run and chase as much as he passed and shot, his willingness perhaps exceptional for one of the world’s premium attackers, a class in which he now deservedly belongs.
“I said it last season and I’ll say it again – Griezmann is the best player in the world,” coach Diego Simeone said in October.
In a team that creates more chances and gives him a greater chance of converting them, Griezmann is likely to deliver an even better return than his 129 goals for Atletico in 256 games.
One more against Levante on Saturday will edge the Frenchman clear of Fernando Torres but Torres left a hero. Griezmann’s exit will leave a bitter taste.
“The truth is it has been difficult to take this route but it’s what I feel I need,” Griezmann said in a video for the fans.
He will be too late for a last outing in front of them at the Wanda Metropolitano, perhaps out of respect for Diego Godin, the godfather to his daughter, who was given a rousing farewell on Sunday after the club’s final home game of the season.
Perhaps Griezmann was wary too, unsure if he waved to the stands whether it would be waving hands he saw coming back.
The hope was he would be playing there in the Champions League final on June 1, the dream of hoisting a European trophy on home turf a key factor in his decision to reject Barcelona last year.
Godin would have led them out but, at 33, with his best years behind him, he goes with the blessing of the fans, a La Liga title, two Champions League finals, two Europa Leagues, three Super Cups and a Copa del Rey under his arm.
Griezmann, five years younger, should be entering his prime, and departs with only one Europa League and a Super Cup. Worse, most suspect he is about to strengthen Barcelona.
“I think my best time is still to come,” Griezmann said in December. “I know I can get even better.”
But his choice is a reflection on Atletico too, raising questions about their future under Simeone, who was there on Tuesday with chief executive Miguel Angel Gil Marin and sporting director Andrea Berta, when his star player said he needed something new.
Two of Atletico’s three outstanding players – Griezmann, Godin and Jan Oblak – are about to move. Oblak signed a new deal last month but it contains a release clause, reportedly set at €120 million, hardly an obstructive price for arguably the world’s number one goalkeeper.
Lucas Hernandez has already agreed to join Bayern Munich. Juanfran, Filipe Luis or Rodrigo could be next.
Admiration for Simeone is unwavering among supporters but frustration simmers too over style and progress. Atletico sit 11 points behind Barcelona in La Liga, one year after the gap finished at 14.
Griezmann’s early decision at least allows time for what is Simeone’s biggest rebuild since he took charge in 2011.
He also begins it in a summer when Atletico’s rivals are expected to respond to the success of the Premier League with spending sprees of their own.
Neither Griezmann’s rejection of Barcelona, nor the fans whistling him at Camp Nou, will deter the club from a fresh approach.
There have been whistles there as well for their own Philippe Coutinho, whose future would become even more uncertain with Griezmann’s arrival.
A reduction in Griezmann’s release clause from €200m to €120 on July 1, means there is also time for others to enter the bidding.
Paris Saint-Germain are likely to offer the fiercest competition, particularly if they lay down a financial package Barca cannot match.
Griezmann at PSG could in turn give encouragement to Real Madrid, whose president Florentino Perez retains a strong interest in both Kylian Mbappe and Neymar, each seen as the sort of statement signing to launch a glorious new era under Zinedine Zidane.
Another is Paul Pogba, who Madrid might find easier to lure if United framed Griezmann as his replacement. For Atletico, the knocks could keep on coming.