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Jose Mourinho has told former employers Tottenham that January transfer target Nicolo Zaniolo will not be leaving Roma this month – unless Spurs up their offer. The north London club have now returned to the table for the Italian forward, who was the subject of a rejected loan approach last summer.
Now Tottenham are once again attempting to lure last season’s Conference League final match-winner to the club after he entered the final 18 months of his current contract.
It seems Zaniolo’s head has been turned by the interest after he asked Roma to leave him out of the squad to face Spezia in Serie A on Sunday.
Yet despite fulfilling the player’s wish, Mourinho expects his 23-year-old playmaker to stay put as he dismissed Zaniolo’s chances of joining The Special One’s old side.
He said after his side’s 2-0 victory: “The director spoke and for me he spoke well. The important thing is that we won the game, the important thing is that we played well as a team, and then let’s see what happens.
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“I have my opinion, my feeling and that is that on February 1st it will still be there. But the transfer window is open and Nicolo wants to leave. This is how I feel about it.”
He later confirmed Zaniolo outlined his wish to depart this month, adding: “Yes, he has expressed a desire to leave, but that does not mean he will leave . Today, I too would like to be in London for dinner with my family and here I am.”
Mourinho was then pushed even further and asked why he believes Roma will keep hold of Zaniolo, to which he responded: “Because Nicolo is an important player, Nico has an important market value and the things that are offered are impossible for society to accept.
“Usually, when there is a strong urge for a player to leave, that urge is accompanied by a large offer that is hard to refuse. There is nothing, or very little. For that, my feeling is that February 1 will be here.”
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West Ham are also believed to be in talks with Zaniolo’s agent over a shock move but Roma are confident they will keep hold of the Italian.
Spurs are looking to add some extra attacking quality to Antonio Conte’s squad despite his uncertain future at the club.
It has now emerged that Tottenham seem unlikely to extend his contract and that Conte would like to return to Italy with his family following a rough second season at Spurs.
But regardless of the club’s cloudy situation, Tottenham are seeking to finish the season strongly as they target a top-four finish and potential silverware.
The arrival of Zaniolo would provide an injection of quality with Spurs currently lacking a natural No.10.
Roma are seeking around £35million to agree to a sale and they currently have no interest in a loan deal – even if it includes an option to buy.
Mourinho’s side are currently fourth in the Serie A table and on course to secure Champions League qualification following a sustained period of absence from the competition.
However, Mourinho, who is said to be frustrated at Roma, hinted he would be demanding a meeting with the club’s hierarchy should they go against his wish and sell Zaniolo this month.
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