It’s amazing to think that this time last year, Nicolo Zaniolo was plying his trade at the Primavera level for Inter, a promising prospect but little else. Flash forward to the end of the 2018/2019 season, and not only is he a major player for Roma’s senior side, his is now viewed as the centerpiece of Roma’s future, either as a cash cow or the next in a long line of Italian legends to play for the Giallorossi.
That type of explosion onto the scene, rivaled only by Moise Kean this season, typically comes with an outburst of interest from the major clubs of the world, and Zaniolo has already seen a huge number of suitors emerge in the quest for his services. Bayern Munich’s Director of Sport has already commented on the young Italian midfielder, and every club from Chelsea to Real Madrid has shown interest in Zaniolo through the press. Given all this interest in Nicolo, Jim Pallotta is faced with a major decision: reap the profit on Zaniolo now, or let him continue to develop at the Olimpico, perhaps netting an even greater profit in the future (or maybe, just maybe, letting him become a Roma legend in his own right? Just a thought).
It looks as if Pallotta has decided on the second option, at least for now. One of the rumors trickling out of the Roma President’s Boston meeting with Frederic Massara is that Pallotta has approved a massive wage increase and renewal for Roma’s #22. La Repubblica is reporting that Zaniolo’s wages will triple with this new contract, going from €0.7 million to €2.1 million, putting his salary on par with that of Stephan El Shaarawy and Aleksandar Kolarov. Of course there has to be the seemingly-only-required-for-Roma-players release clause, but at €100 million, that’s by far the highest Roma has ever set and sends a message to the petrol powerhouses: show me the money.
Corriere Dello Sport is also reporting that no matter how Roma’s season wraps up, the main priority will be to keep Zaniolo in Rome for at least one more season. Although I’m reasonably skeptical considering Roma’s supermarket reputation, the fact that journalists are saying this with a straight face has to be an encouraging sign.
It goes without saying that Zaniolo’s star is not guaranteed to continue rising; just ask Stephan El Shaarawy about what can happen after one astonishing breakout season. Even so, Roma would be moronic to not try to hold onto the breakout star of Serie A; worst case scenario, he’s still making less than Juan Jesus.