Sandro Tonali has distanced himself from speculation linking him with Manchester United – and has also shrugged off comparisons to Andrea Pirlo.
The Brescia midfielder is carving out something of a reputation for himself, having been linked to a host of Europe’s elite over the last 12 months including Borussia Dortmund, Atletico Madrid and four Serie A heavyweights.
The interest prompted eccentric Brescia owner Massimo Cellino to slap a €300m price tag on the rising star, but it’s also claimed the most serious interest comes from Manchester United, who will try their hand with an initial £40m tempter when the transfer window opens.
Having been called up to the Italy squad for the latest round of fixtures, Tonali has spoken about his future for the first time, and his love for Cellino, amid talk a bid from United is imminent.
“I love President Cellino very much and he rates me highly,” Tonali said. “He’s a great person and I hope to travel down a good road with him.
“After the match against Fiorentina, he said he wouldn’t even sell me for €300m, but that doesn’t scare me, even if it really is a lot of money.
“I’m confident about what we’ll do this season. For now I’m not thinking about the market, I just want to help Brescia stay up.”
Tonali, 19, had always been likened to classy Italian ico Pirlo, who also started his career at Brescia, but the 19-year-old played down the comparison, instead naming another former Italy midfielder as his idol.
“Being compared to Pirlo doesn’t bother me, but I think we’re very different because he had indescribable technique and quality,” he said.
“I consider myself to be like [Gennaro] Gattuso but more technical. He’s always been my role model.”