Chelsea and Real Madrid are reportedly set to battle each other for the signing of AS Roma starlet Nicolo Zaniolo in the summer transfer window.

As per a report from Italian outlet Calciomercato, Premier League heavyweights Chelsea are interested in AS Roma’s teenage midfielder Nicolo Zaniolo and are set to go head to head against European champions Real Madrid for his signing.

19-year-old Zaniolo, a former Fiorentina academy man, arrived at AS Roma this past summer from Inter Milan, in the transfer deal that saw Radja Nainggolan join the Nerazzurri. And the attacking midfielder has been making all the right noises in his debut campaign with the Giallorossi, emerging as a key player for Eusebio Di Francesco’s side.

So far in the 2018-19 campaign, Zaniolo has featured 24 times across all competitions for Roma, scoring five goals and setting up two more in the process. While the numbers might not be mind-blowing, the Italian has managed to catch everyone’s eye with his dribbling skills and ability to create chances for his teammates.

A star in the making (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)

A star in the making (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)

Zaniolo’s performances have managed to grab the attention of Premier League giants Chelsea. The Blues are heavily reliant on star man Eden Hazard for providing the creativity in the final third of the field and would be open to adding another player who could ease the creative responsibilities on the Belgian to some extent, with Zaniolo emerging as a potential target.

However, their plans for the summer transfer have been thrown in jeopardy after FIFA hit them with a two-window transfer ban for breaching rules in the signings of under-age players. While Chelsea can potentially push the ban till the January window with an appeal, it remains to be seen if they step up their interest in the Roma attacking midfielder.

Even if they do, Chelsea will have to battle the spending power of reigning European champions Real Madrid to land the talented 19-year-old. Los Blancos have resorted to a youth-centred recruitment process in recent windows as seen by their signings of Brahim Diaz, Rodrygo, Vinicius Junior, Dani Ceballos and see Zaniolo as another possible exciting addition to their ranks.

Able to play in the No.10 role, as well as on either flanks, the Italian has also been used as a striker as well as a central midfielder on occasions. This kind of versatility would certainly appeal to the Merengues, as they would be getting a talented player who can provide options in multiple positions.

Zaniolo is contracted to Roma till the summer of 2023, but having seen his rise to prominence, the Serie A giants are hoping to get him to sign a new and improved deal in order to ward off potential suitors. The report further adds that along with Chelsea and Real Madrid, French champions PSG too are also monitoring the 19-year-old.

In his brief time at the top level, Zaniolo has managed to make a strong impression, naturally leading to interest from a number of big clubs across Europe. It remains to be seen, however, if any of Chelsea, Real Madrid or PSG make an official approach for the youngster in the summer.

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