Mancini backs Roma's Zaniolo to become an 'extraordinary player'

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Zaniolo Udinese Roma Serie A
The young midfielder has repeatedly caught eye of the former Manchester City manager

Italy head coach Roberto Mancini believes Roma star Nicolo Zaniolo can develop into an "extraordinary player".

Zaniolo, 20, has impressed since arriving at Roma from Inter in 2018, although he suffered a serious knee injury in January.

But Mancini feels the five-time Italy international can become a star if he remains focused.

"If he continues to train seriously and make an athlete's life, he could become an extraordinary player," he told Roma TV.

"He is young and does not yet have many Serie A matches in the legs, so that not all responsibility falls on him.

"I think he has not yet found his role. He can do two or three. He is one of those young players who with another year will be able to improve, will recover from the injury."

Zaniolo was set to miss Euro 2020, but the coronavirus pandemic meant the tournament was pushed back to next year.

That delay could be a blessing for Zaniolo and Mancini, who is keen to count on him for the tournament. 

"Zaniolo may be a very important player. He is also very young, he will have one more year to improve," Mancini told Rai Sport

"My hope is to have all the players available and have difficulty in making choices.

"I think the team can improve. We came from many games played well and won and there was great enthusiasm. It would have been great to play now."

Speaking in late 2019, Zaniolo stressed his focus remains on Roma, despite reported interest from Manchester United. 

"I'm very happy, Roma have given me so much confidence, now I'll repay it on the pitch. I'm proud to represent these fans, I feel very good here," he said.

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"The things [Paulo] Fonseca has to say, he says to your face. He's a very direct person and he’s helping me improve.

"It's important to keep your feet on the ground at all times and I have a family behind me who do that, who understand football and who make sure I work my best at all times.

"Beyond that, the only way to manage expectations is within myself. I can't listen to what others say, good or bad. I'm not Totti, but one day I hope to be as good."