Premier League • England

‘Pole position’ claim for Liverpool, Man Utd target conflicts Mourinho advice in attacker transfer battle

Nicolo Zaniolo, Jose Mourinho Roma during Serie A game v Cagliari

Nicolo Zaniolo has been linked with Liverpool and Manchester United – but reports in Italy now warn the Premier League pair that Juventus have made him a top target too.

Reports earlier in the week wrote that Liverpool could make a move for Zaniolo in the summer. It followed links with Manchester United for the attacking midfielder.

Zaniolo can play centrally or on the right wing – and has even featured as a support striker in a 3-5-2 system for Roma this season.

But there are no guarantees over how much longer he will be in the Italian capital. His contract with Roma expires in 2024.

There could be renewal talks over the summer, but by then, Tuttosport believe Juventus will be ready to pounce.

The Serie A side are keen to build an Italian core for the future and have identified the 22-year-old as the next part of that puzzle. In fact, he is in “pole position” on their transfer wishlist.

Roma do not want to sell him, but cannot guarantee they will keep him. As such, Juventus will pose a serious threat to any Premier League contenders for his signature.

Liverpool face season-defining run of games before international break

Liverpool face season-defining run of games before international break

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp faces a season-defining run of fixtures before the international break at the end of March.

Zaniolo missed the entirety of last season after suffering the second ACL injury of his blossoming career. His return to action has not always gone smoothly, but Juventus still believe in his big potential.

Therefore, as long as they qualify for the Champions League again, they could make a move for Zaniolo in the summer.

Tuttosport tout a price tag of around €40m (about £33.5m), even though Roma have not set one themselves. Liverpool or Man Utd could in theory compete with those figures, but there is no mention of them in the Turin-based report.

Zaniolo advised against Serie A stay

What should be noted, though, is that Jose Mourinho has advised Zaniolo – in public – to continue his career outside Italy.

Mourinho has not been happy with the tough tackles his playmaker has been on the receiving end of. As such, in December, he issued the following warning.

Mourinho told DAZN: “I speak against myself, but if I am Zaniolo I begin to think about not staying in Serie A for so long because I feel bad for him for what he has to suffer.”

During an interview with Roma’s official website, the manager then added: “I advise Zaniolo to go abroad, because here in Italy it is becoming impossible for him.”

Joining Juventus may give him the same problems. So he could yet have something to consider from Liverpool or Man Utd.

READ MORELiverpool eyeing Luis Diaz repeat as plans accelerated for exciting 11-goal target of interest to Chelsea