Deal Close: Arsenal set to make January bid for 23-year-old Serie A star

Arsenal have reportedly taken a liking to Roma midfielder Nicolo Zaniolo.

The 23-year-old’s fledgling career has been disrupted by more than one serious injury, but his performances have still led to interest from across Europe.

Zaniolo spent time in the youth systems of Genoa, Fiorentina, Entella and Inter Milan before making the move to Roma in 2018, and he has since made 125 senior appearances for the club.

The Italy international has conjured up 24 goals and 18 assists for the Giallorossi in that time, and he became Europa Conference League champion with Jose Mourinho’s men last term.

The 6’3″ playmaker only has two goals and three assists to boast from 14 matches this season, and he has missed a further 90 games for Roma through injury or illness in the past five years.

Despite his perennial injury concerns, clubs have been alerted to the prospect of a cut-price deal, as Zaniolo will soon enter the final 18 months of his contract with Roma.

Tottenham Hotspur have long been linked with a swoop for Zaniolo, but according to Radio Radio, Arsenal have stolen a march on their North London rivals.

The report claims that neither Roma nor Zaniolo have approached one another regarding a contract renewal, and Arsenal could wait until 2024 before snapping him up on a free transfer.

Alternatively, Mikel Arteta’s side could opt to negotiate a deal with Roma next summer, and Mourinho’s side would supposedly be willing to offload Zaniolo for a fee of €25m (£21.8m).

Arsenal added to their playmaking ranks in the summer with the signing of Fabio Vieira, who currently provides backup and competition to club captain Martin Odegaard.

Emile Smith Rowe is also capable of deputising in the number 10 role, but the England international has been sidelined since undergoing groin surgery in September.

Arteta has confirmed that his side will be “very active” during the January market, where a new central midfielder and winger are believed to be the Spaniard’s two priorities.

However, Gabriel Jesus’s serious knee injury could lead Arsenal to search for a new number nine over the winter, as Eddie Nketiah could be the Gunners’ only recognised striker for the next couple of months.

The Premier League leaders were dealt another injury blow in Saturday’s 2-0 loss to Juventus in a friendly, as fellow attacker Reiss Nelson came off with an apparent hamstring problem in the first half.

Own goals from Granit Xhaka and Rob Holding saw Arsenal succumb to defeat against Juventus at the Emirates, where they will host West Ham United on Boxing Day upon their return to Premier League action.

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