Reporting on contract extensions is always a bit of a fool's errand. On the one hand, it seems like a rather straightforward process: tell me what you (or your client) wants, we'll counter with a slightly lower figure, we'll haggle about the salary, bonuses, and release clauses for a few days, and then, Bam!, we got a new deal. However, as we're currently seeing with Lorenzo Pellegrini, the contract renewal process is far more delicate than we just made it sound.
Considering the often protracted nature of these negotiations, we tend to bristle when we come across contract extension rumors, but Italian journalist Nicolo Schira dropped an interesting nugget about another Nicolo—Zaniolo:
According to Schira, Roma and Nicolo Zaniolo's representatives are working on a four-year contract extension for the 22-year-old attacking midfielder; one that would keep him with Roma through June 2025. While Schira doesn't speculate on the proposed salary figures, we can safely assume that his agent Claudio Vigorelli will seek to boost his client’s current €2.5 million annual salary.
Zaniolo's current deal runs through June 2024, so while it seems odd they'd go to all this fuss just to tack on an additional year, both sides are taking a calculated gamble here. In a way, it's reminiscent of how MLB teams handle their young stars' contracts, where players can't hit free agency until they've accrued six years of service time. And, every so often, teams will offer a young star a new deal two or three years into their initial six-year pact; basically, they pay their young stars more than they're worth now but potentially less than they'd make on the open market.
We can't say for certain that's what's going on with this proposed deal, but chances are Zaniolo's new deal will bump his €2.5 million salary up by a million or so, paying him more than he's worth now but still far less than he'd get from a giant European club on the transfer market. It's a trade-off that provides the player a healthy pay raise while the team gets to retain a young star, staving off transfer market advances.
For years, we've lived in fear of the day someone like Barcelona, Juventus, or Manchester City would steal Zaniolo from Roma's grasp. And while the club received a two-year reprieve from these fears thanks to his ACL injuries, with Zaniolo looking fit and ready to take off under José Mourinho's tutelage, the clubs at the top of Europe's football food pyramid are likely circling over Trigoria as we speak.
Binding Zaniolo to Roma for the next four years would go a long way to allaying those fears and could set the stage for The Kid to become a Roma lifer. However, if this negotiation mirrors the Pellegrini process, it may be several months before we see Zaniolo and Pinto mugging for the cameras, but, as far as signals of intent go, this news should boost your spirits.