Nicolò Zaniolo, Roma's NxGn playmaker likened to Gerrard and Lampard

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The youngster joined Roma from Inter Milan in the summer and has already forced his way into Eusebio Di Francesco's first-team plans

Despite suffering a few setbacks in Serie A this season, Roma's future is shaping up rather nicely.

The Giallorossi have moved shrewdly in the transfer market over the past couple of years, acquiring a smorgasbord of top young attacking talent as they look to build on last season's impressive league and Champions League showings.

Ante Coric, Justin Kluivert and Cengiz Under are all prominent figures under manager Eusebio Di Francesco, while Nicolo Zaniolo is being afforded a chance to shine in Italy's top-flight having endured indifferent spells with Fiorentina and Inter Milan.

The 19-year-old started his football education with La Viola, who didn't see future for Zaniolo at the top level and subsequently released him in the summer of 2016. The Italy youth international had to restart his career with little-known Virtus Entella, but the leading lights of Italian football came calling after just seven outings for the Serie B outfit.

Zaniolo

Inter Milan beat off interest from champions Juventus for the starlet's services, but he was on the move once again in the summer when the Nerazzurri used him as a makeweight in the deal for Belgian midfielder Radja Nainggolan.

The move seems to have worked out brilliantly for the three-time Serie A champions, who not only received a sizeable fee for a player approaching the twilight of his career but also a star in the making, according to his former coach at Inter, Stefano Vecchi.

"He will go places," Vecchi told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "He has the characteristics to become a modern mezzala. He's a [Steven] Gerrard, [Frank] Lampard-type player."

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Nicolo Zaniolo graphic

High praise indeed for Zaniolo, who didn't look out of place when Di Francesco afforded him only his third start for Roma against Champions League holders Real Madrid: the son of former forward Igor made two key passes, completed two dribbles and finished the game with a passing accuracy of 84%. More than respectable numbers for his first ever start in Europe's premier club competition.

His development hasn't gone unnoticed either; Roberto Mancini called him up to the Italy national team ahead of a UEFA Nations League double-header, before he had even made a first-team appearance for Roma. He didn't manage to pull on the famous blue jersey, but it seems to be only a matter of time before Zaniolo becomes a key figure for both club and country.

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