The transfer wheels are beginning to turn ahead of the summer and more and more players are getting linked to Manchester United.
One of these is Roma star Nicolo Zaniolo, with Italian newspapers Il Messaggero reporting United are keen on a cut-price £25.5 million move for the midfielder.
On one hand, the price makes Zaniolo difficult to ignore. He is just 21, and is already a senior Italy international with seven caps.
After breaking into Roma’s first team at just 19, he was hailed as a successor to Daniele de Rossi.
Roma don’t like to let their top academy players leave, with De Rossi and Francesco Totti staying loyal through their careers. So snapping Zaniolo up could be a unique opportunity.
When a top level talent is available at a discount, there is often a reason. In Zaniolo’s case, it is due to injury.
Zaniolo is recovering from his second ACL injury of his career, sustained in September 2020.
He had only just returned from his previous ACL injury suffered in the previous January.
There are obviously concerns that Zaniolo would go onto suffer further serious injuries, and also over how this will affect him as a player, technically and mentally.
What’s United’s risk tolerance?
ACL injuries are part of football, but to suffer two, especially so young, makes Zaniolo an extra risky case.
For evidence of how players can recover, look no further than Danny Ings, who suffered two ACL injuries during his time at Liverpool, and has since bounce back to score 35 goals in his last two seasons.
Zaniolo is just 21, and should have a long and prosperous career ahead of him. If he can shake these injuries off, then he could prove to be a bargain.
United succeeded once before, when Sir Alex Ferguson took a risk on Ruud van Nistelrooy after an ACL injury. He was worth the gamble.
Zaniolo has two, and plays in a high intensity position in midfield. If United take the chance, then they should be applauded for it, but there will be safer options out there this summer.
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