There’s one thing we know for certain ahead of tomorrow's match: Nicoló Zaniolo won’t be part of Roma’s starting eleven or even the match day squad when the Giallorossi travel to La Spezia on Sunday. Transfer rumors have swirled around the talented 23-year-old for some time now, but this time around, they look more real than ever. With reports of Zaniolo asking for more salary as part of a contract renewal than the club is willing to offer, it looks like Roma is seriously considering his exit during this transfer window.
And with potential offers coming in from the Premier League, it’s said that Zaniolo has refused to be called up for this one. If all is to be believed, then we may have seen the last of him on the pitch for Mourinho’s side.
Aside from the Zaniolo absence, the only other player missing out on this one will be longtime absentee Gini Wjinaldum. Otherwise, Mourinho will have his pick of the litter when naming his XI for a crucial away match against Spezia.
At the moment, there doesn’t seem to be much debate among the major publications about who Mourinho will run out as his starting line-up. There will likely be two changes to the lineup that defeated Fiorentina last weekend. In defense, Roger Ibañez returns from suspension and will push Marash Kumbulla to the bench. Meanwhile, in the midfield, Nemanja Matic is expected to return to the first 11 in place of youngster Edoardo Bove.
One thing to keep an eye on with Napoli looming in a week are the players approaching an accumulated yellow card suspension: Gianluca Mancini and Bryan Cristante. The two have been fixtures in Mourinho’s starting line-ups, so it’ll be interesting to see if either is left out to protect them from potential suspension ahead of a trip to the league leaders. If that is the case, then Kumbulla and or Benjamin Tahirovic could get another start.
ROMA (3-4-1-2): Patricio; Ibañez, Smalling, Mancini; Zalewski, Cristante, Matic, Celik; Pellegrini; Dybala, Abraham