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Poll: Should Roma Swap Zaniolo for Alderweireld?

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We play devil’s advocate for Roma reportedly mulling over this deal, because Toby Alderweireld is proven quality.

Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Final Photo by Giuseppe Maffia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Reports of Roma chasing Toby Alderweireld’s signature are heating up. But there is a key difference between signing guys like Marc Bartra from La Liga or Gianluca Mancini from within Italy, and signing a Premier League player like Alderweireld: Money. You need more of it, and you need it upfront. Yeah... about that.

Alderweireld reportedly holds a 28-million-euro release clause in his contract, while he’s on 4.6 million euros per year in wages. If that’s a number reported in gross figures (as is the custom with the Premier League) then Alderweireld is on less than Manolas was at Roma, and at the same level that the Giallorossi pay Fazio. Not so bad, but a steep transfer fee for a 30 year old.

The only factors that would open Tottenham to lowering their demands is the fact Alderweireld’s contract has only a year left to go. Oh, and another far less popular option altogether.

You may have already heard the reported part-exchange deal being mulled over between Roma and Tottenham over Nicolò Zaniolo.

Can Roma Afford to Send Zaniolo Packing for Alderweireld?

Italy v Poland: Group A - 2019 UEFA U-21 Championship Photo by Giuseppe Maffia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

While I personally believe a cash-plus-Alderweireld fee for Zaniolo makes sense on paper, it may be realistically beyond the limits of controversy that Roma can afford to stoke up right now. If it isn’t bad enough Roma are sending away the Romans, now they’re carting away Zaniolo too? That’ll be the reaction, even if I feel differently. There’s a lot of hype around Zaniolo that has more to do with bragging rights than Roma’s football itself.

In Zaniolo, Roma signed a 19-year-old player last summer who everyone admits has no natural position. He’s been labelled a “tuttocampista” who may or may not turn out to be the next Pogba or Milinkovic-Savic, but that’s a kind way of saying the kid is making up for lost time. He was on a fast-track to nowhere at 17 years of age, railroaded at formation club Fiorentina for being too lazy, before Zaniolo did something admirable: re-taking his career in his own hands and risking it all in Serie B.

Zaniolo’s Virtus Entella spell worked well enough to earn him a move back to the youth tanks of a big club, where he’d meet former Inter youth coach Walter De Vecchi. The man would transform Zaniolo’s entire approach to the game by teaching him to find success in the half-spaces.

FC Internazionale U19 v Chievo Verona U19 - Serie A Primavera Photo by Emilio Andreoli - Inter/Inter via Getty Images

Off-the-ball positional play out wide is all the rage among Italian box-to-box midfielders nowadays, and Zaniolo is no exception. The future Roma starlet found his physique was unmatched at Primavera level, collecting the ball wide to help the buildup, then ghosting into the box to get on the end of scoring chances at will. That iron-will confidence is what Zaniolo brought to his first season at Roma.

We have to give the credit for that much. What a difference it makes to see a Roma player never losing confidence under any kind of pressure and circumstance. Ultimately that made for all over a dozen or so genuinely good performances from the Italian youth in his Serie A debut season with Roma, but he was over-used in a bad run of form from March onwards.

FBL-ITALY-SERIEA-GENOA-AS ROMA Photo credit should read MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images

How many positions will Zaniolo be played in before he discovers himself? Will Zaniolo be fielded deeper in midfield, out wide, in the hole next season? How much gametime will he take away from other players? Not least of all Bryan Cristante. All this speculation just to raise the Zaniolo’s price tag so he can be sold off in a blockbuster deal to Juventus next summer?

Call it playing devil’s advocate here - because no one would be surprised to see Zaniolo agree a contract extension and turn out in a Roma shirt next season - but I’d rather sort out a deal for him to go to England now than Juventus or Inter tomorrow; not least of all because Toby Alderweireld’s quality and experience need no introduction.

Moulded on the ball at Ajax, forged into a fighter off the ball at Simeone’s Atletico Madrid and combined into both at Pochettino’s Tottenham. Alderweireld may just be the top signing Roma need right now.

Poll

Would you take Toby Alderweireld and cash for Zaniolo?

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    Yes, Alderweireld is too good a chance to pass up
    (182 votes)
  • 69%
    No, Zaniolo is ready for a great season with Roma.
    (673 votes)
  • 11%
    Taxi for Bryan Cristante.
    (115 votes)
970 votes total Vote Now