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Tonali ready to play for 'top, top club' as Balzaretti hails 'special' Zaniolo

5 months ago
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Former defender Federico Balzaretti spoke to Stats Perform News about Italy stars Sandro Tonali and Nicolo Zaniolo.

Brescia sensation Sandro Tonali is ready to play for a "top, top club" amid strong links to Juventus and Inter, said former Italy international Federico Balzaretti.

Tonali is highly coveted following his exploits for Brescia – the Italian midfielder attracting interest from the likes of Serie A champions Juve, Inter, Manchester United, Manchester City and Barcelona.

The 20-year-old, compared to Italian great Andrea Pirlo, has been tipped to join either Inter or Juve at the end of the 2019-20 coronavirus-hit season.

Balzaretti hailed "special" three-time international Tonali in an interview with Stats Perform News.

"Tonali, the first time I watched him, his passing [stood out]," former Torino, Palermo, Juve, Fiorentina and Roma full-back Balzaretti said. "His idea, to pass and to play vertical. He is totally different to Andrea Pirlo but he could play together with Pirlo. It would be a great, great partnership because he is more physical maybe than Pirlo. What Andrea has is a light interior and a vision to map the field, to play under pressure and understand one or two times before other players. Tonali doesn't have that yet.

"But of course, Tonali is a great character. His defensive numbers are very high in the league. When you watch him after 10-15 minutes, you say okay he will be a national team player for the next 15 years. It's impressive. I watched him three years ago, he is very young. It's unbelievable. He is an incredible player. He is ready to play for a top, top club in Europe – if it's Juventus, Inter, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, I don't know, it doesn't matter. He is ready for the next step."

Tonali is set to shape the future of Italian football alongside fellow 20-year-old and Roma star Nicolo Zaniolo.

Zaniolo has flourished in the Italian capital since arriving from rivals Inter in 2018, establishing himself as a key player for Roma and Italy.

The attacking midfielder, who is continuing his recovery from a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), has been linked with a move away from Roma.

A possible return to Inter has been mentioned, while Juve have reportedly had an offer rejected amid reports Roma could be forced to sell prized asset Zaniolo due to their financial situation.

"It's very important to keep the best player, of course," Balzaretti, who spent three years playing for Roma before retiring in 2015, said. "But also, there is the financial part, which is sometimes more important because if you have a big debt, you have to sell, sometimes the management doesn't want to sell but they need to.

"When you need to sell, the offer comes for the best player you have. Clubs aren't stupid. They don't want to buy your worst player, they want your best player. Sometimes you need to. The problem is not to sell this kind of player, maybe it's a problem, but the first thing is to have a good balance financially. You have to be stable. You don't need to sell players, Zaniolo or someone else. This is the goal for this kind of club for me. Sometimes, you don't want but if you have less €100million, you need to sell because if not, FIFA will kill you.

"If you want to win the league, be stable in the Champions League, compete with the best clubs, you have to keep your best player. If they are young, like Zaniolo and [Lorenzo] Pellegrini, that can improve and be part of your future, of course it's not good. But if you ask everyone in Rome, the president and sport director, no one wants to sell their best player and sometimes you have to."

The 38-year-old added: "Zaniolo is a modern player physically. The power, amazing power. He is fast, he kicks well, he is a very modern player. He can play in midfield, wide, he can play number 10. A complete midfielder, an offensive midfielder.

"His impact in Serie A is so huge. You have to think that he played in Primavera, so under-19. His step was U19 direct to Serie A and not direct to Serie A to one 'normal club', with Roma and the pressure you have at Roma is amazing, so huge. His impact was more huge than the pressure he has. When you are special, you do something like that."

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