Record-setting Roma star Zaniolo earns Pogba comparison from Italy boss Mancini
The teenage midfielder has become the youngest Italian to bag a brace in a Champions League fixture and has been likened to a World Cup winner
Roma starlet Nicolo Zaniolo has drawn comparisons to Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba on the back of his record-setting showings in the Champions League.
At 19 years of age, the highly-rated playmaker has become the youngest Italian to bag a brace in an elite European fixture.
He achieved that feat in the first leg of Roma’s last-16 encounter with Porto.
Zaniolo is now seeing his potential noted by a global audience, but those in his homeland have been aware of his ability for some time and consider him to be destined for the top.
Italy boss Roberto Mancini told Corriere della Sera of a player currently forming part of the Azzurri’s U21 set-up: “Zaniolo? I had followed him at the European Under-19 Championship and, besides him, others also impressed: [Sandro] Tonali, [Moise] Kean and [Gianluca] Scamacca.
“I liked Zaniolo because he is physically strong, he often dictates on the pitch and when he has the ball they can never take it away.”
He added on a player Inter allowed to move on as part of their deal to land Radja Nainggolan in the summer of 2018: “Why did Inter let him go? Sometimes, with young people, it’s hard to understand.
“I’ve seen some qualities, he’s completely different from [Nicolo] Barella, Jorginho and [Marco] Verratti. He has the characteristics to do very well.
“The comparison with Pogba is there, but now he needs calm and patience or even he will get into trouble.”
It is considered to be only a matter of time before Zaniolo earns senior international recognition.
Once that arrives he will form part of an exciting group of young talent emerging in Italian football.
Mancini believes a bright future lies ahead for a nation that missed out on a place at the 2018 World Cup.
He is, however, eager to see players of promise rewarded with regular game time and top-tier football at club level.
The former Inter and Manchester City manager added on the likes of Juventus teenager Kean and Brescia’s reported Liverpool target Tonali: “In Italy now there is more courage, yes, but there could be more, because there are many good young players.
“For Juve, Kean does not play, but he would almost anywhere else. Tonali should play in A, even [Stefano] Sensi and [Pietro] Pellegri always has great quality.
“The young are the guiding thread. In two years we can put together a strong team that can do well at the Euros, and the World Cup in 2022 can be big.”
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