Aston Villa

Aston Villa

Premier League • England

Aston Villa exit wish granted, as surprise move to dethroned champions develops

Two clubs target Nicolo Zaniolo

Things haven't worked out since the midfielder's move to Villa

After recently admitting his desire to return to Serie A, Aston Villa loanee Nicolo Zaniolo has become a surprise target for two clubs who could grant him that wish, according to reports in Italy.

Aston Villa brought Zaniolo to the Premier League in the summer by agreeing a loan deal with Galatasaray. However, the versatile attacking midfielder has struggled to earn a consistent place in Unai Emery’s lineups.

The Italy international is now longing for a return to his native country, where he previously made his name with Roma before things turned sour there.

And according to Sky Sport Italia, he could have the chance this summer after emerging as a new target for Napoli, the current Serie A champions.

Way down in eighth place, there is no chance of Napoli retaining their title this season, but they would still be a high-calibre club for Zaniolo to join.

Classed as one of the main rivals of his former club Roma, though, it would be a move not without controversy.

An alternative route via which Zaniolo could return to Serie A would be with Fiorentina, which may be more emotional, since he spent six years in their academy before embarking on his senior career with Virtus Entella.

Whatever happens from here, it has been categorically stated that Villa will not be making an attempt to buy Zaniolo after his loan spell.

Zaniolo searching for next club

It means he will return to Galatasaray, but there seems to be little chance of him staying in Turkey, so the search is underway for the 24-year-old’s next step.

There were even claims recently that he could stay in the Premier League and swap one claret-and-blue club for another by signing for West Ham, but it remains to be seen if any other sources will back up that suggestion.

Despite starting against Manchester City in midweek, Zaniolo was once again a substitute for Villa’s match against Brentford on Saturday.

He eventually came on for Morgan Rogers in the 69th minute of the 3-3 draw, which means he has now made 34 appearances for the club, for whom he has scored three goals.

His outings have come on either wing, or in a more central attacking or midfield position. Perhaps it is his failure to nail down a single definable role – an issue that stretches back to his breakout with Roma, where he was originally regarded as a central midfielder, soon transitioned into a right-winger and ended up as a support striker – that has actually worked against his ability to cement a regular place for a club.

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