The UEFA Nations League, instituted in the fall of 2018, was an attempt by UEFA to add some significance to what were otherwise pretty pointless international friendlies. In essence, the Nations League took the prior friendly structure, or lack thereof, and attempted to gerrymander it into an actual league format, complete with rankings, standings...the whole lot. And this tournament, no matter how well intentioned, may have just cost Roma Nicolo Zaniolo.
In the 40th minute of Italy's matchup against the Netherlands at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam, Nicolo Zaniolo was subbed following a knee-to-knee collision with Donny van de Beek.
L’infortunio di #Zaniolo al ginocchio sinistro in #OlandaItalia— Jacopo Aliprandi (@AliprandiJacopo) September 7, 2020
Nicolò, non fare scherzi... pic.twitter.com/raCdRgs3Nc
As you can see from that clip, it looks like the injury occurred prior to the collision with van de Beek, right on that little hop-step he took before colliding with him. Now that we can see it, it looks pretty similar to the ACL injury he suffered in January—an awkwardly extended leg planting into the pitch and just erupting upon impact.
While he was able to leave the pitch under his own power, the initial updates haven't been good. Zaniolo may have damaged the ACL in his left knee, which would be the second ACL injury he's suffered in the past eight months, after tearing the ACL in his right knee this past January.
Brutte notizie dall'Olanda: per Nicolò #Zaniolo si tratta di un infortunio al legamento crociato del ginocchio#ASRoma #Italia @tempoweb @Teleradiostereo pic.twitter.com/vpLZdrStaK— Filippo Biafora (@Fil_Biafora) September 7, 2020
While nothing is official or confirmed, the early word coming from the Italy camp is that Zaniolo may have injured, and possibly torn, the ACL in his left knee.
We'll update this as soon as possible, but needless to say this would be a crushing blow to Zaniolo's young career, not to mention Roma's prospects for the upcoming season.
And it all occurred in a trumped up friendly—it doesn't get much more Roma Happened than that.
Italian team officials confirm there was a significant injury of some sort, though they didn't go so far as to provide a specific diagnosis.
#NationsLeague— Nazionale Italiana ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (@Vivo_Azzurro) September 7, 2020
️ #Ferretti (medico Nazionale): "Per #Zaniolo si tratta di una distorsione di una certa importanza, aspettiamo domani per ulteriori dettagli"
#PaesiBassiItalia 0⃣-1⃣#NEDITA #UNL#Azzurri #VivoAzzurro
More from Italy's team docs:
Italy medic Professor Andrea Ferretti confirms Nicolò Zaniolo is ‘very worried, as are we’ after he suffered a new potential ACL injury https://t.co/dBZQWyYO21 #ASRoma #NEDITA #NetherlandsItaly #VivoAzzurro #NationsLeague pic.twitter.com/fu6kjDdFxb— footballitalia (@footballitalia) September 7, 2020
Italy medic Andrea Ferretti:
“It is a significant sprain of the knee,” Ferretti told RAI Sport.
“It’s difficult to compare the stability with the other knee, because that has already undergone an operation. It’s a significant sprain.
“He is coming back from a long rehabilitation process for the other knee, so obviously he is very worried, as are we.”
The club provides an update on the injury and testing set to occur tomorrow:
#ASRoma can confirm Nicolò Zaniolo suffered a trauma to the left knee during Italy’s match against Holland on Monday night.— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) September 7, 2020
On Tuesday, after returning to Rome, the player will undergo diagnostic and clinical tests to assess the full extent of the injury. pic.twitter.com/a5lOsnPtdW