The summer of change at Tottenham Hotspur continues to crank out transfer rumor after transfer rumor with no signs of it stopping anytime soon. This weekend, the rumors heated back up around Roma attacking midfielder Nicolo Zaniolo. Specifically, there’s a new report from Italian journalist Alfredo Pedullà that claims that not only are Spurs still interested in Zaniolo, but the player has agreed to come to Spurs in a player-plus-cash deal that includes Toby Alderweireld and that would total €50m.
The basics are this: Alderweireld, who has had no suitors willing to pay his £25m release clause, would be sold to Roma as a makeweight for €23m (~£20m). Spurs would then include an additional €27m for Zaniolo, who would move to north London on a permanent transfer. The idea is that Alderweireld would get his move away from the club and a modest increase in after-tax wages in Rome, Spurs would get a young talent who could compete with Dele Alli, and everyone’s happy (except for Spurs fans who were still hoping Toby would sign a new deal).
Zaniolo is a solid talent. Just 20 years old, he’s a player who could potentially develop into a superstar in attacking midfield, hence why Roma have slapped a €50m valuation on him. He’s good enough to potentially start, or at least rotate, in Spurs’ lineup and would give the club badly-needed depth in attacking midfield, regardless of whether Christian Eriksen stays or goes this summer. The knock on him is that he’s not a great passer and he was considered slow at Roma (and considering he was deemed “slow” by Italian league standards should be a mite worrying about his prospects in the Premier League). Even so, Moe at Statsbomb notes this and still thinks his dribbling, press, strength, and shot volume bode well for his future as a football star.
Pedullà says that Zaniolo has agreed to the deal, but conveniently glides over whether Roma has also agreed. So it’s worth emphasizing that this is still a rumor. To my knowledge, Pedullà is the only reporter with this story. We’ve bred a following of transfer rumor skeptics at this website. My advice: keep your powder dry on this one. It’s not over until the fat lady sings. Wait until the BBC is on it. Etc, etc, etc.
It’s still a weird transfer, the Toby part in particular. We also don’t know if this is still Spurs making googly-eyes at Betis to get them to lower the Giovani Lo Celso price. But if Alderweireld is ready to get out of London no matter what the cost, he could be willing to make the transition to Italy, considering that it doesn’t look like any bigger clubs are interested. And as good as Toby is, turning him into a behind-the-curve attacking midfield depth might be a good move for everyone.