'Roma has given me so much' – Zaniolo relaxed on contract renewal

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Roma's Nicolo Zaniolo remains relaxed about his contract situation and has refuted claims he came close to leaving the Giallorossi in the transfer window.

Zaniolo helped Roma end a 14-year trophy drought in May, scoring the winning goal as Jose Mourinho's men beat Feyenoord to win the inaugural Europa Conference League.

The attacker's contract in the Italian capital does not expire until 2024, but he was strongly linked with an exit during the recent transfer window.

Juventus were considered the most likely suitors for the 23-year-old, who has nine senior caps for Italy, but he insists a transfer was never likely.

Speaking at a news conference ahead of Roma's Europa League clash with HJK, Zaniolo said: "It was not a unique summer for me. It always seems that I always go and then I stay.

"These are inferences and thoughts that [the media] make. I still have a year and a half on the contract to be able to talk about it. This is not the time right now because we have HJK and Atalanta.

"Roma has given me so much. It has given me everything and we hope to win other titles."

Zaniolo also outlined his appreciation for Mourinho's backing, adding: "I have to thank the coach because he's always been willing to give me a hand and a second chance. He's a great coach and a great person. I'm happy to have him."

Ahead of Thursday's meeting with the Finnish outfit, Roma are unbeaten in their past 19 home matches in European competitions (W13 D6), the longest such run in their history.

Roma did begin their Europa League campaign with a 2-1 defeat at Ludogorets, however, meaning Mourinho has lost his last two games in the competition (also 3-0 v Dinamo Zagreb with Tottenham in March 2021). Mourinho had previously lost just three of his 24 Europa League games (W17 D4).

The qualities of captain Lorenzo Pellegrini will be key to the Giallorossi's hopes of getting their campaign up and running on Thursday, and Mourinho wishes he could field him in multiple positions.

"Last year I talked about three Pellegrinis, who would always be starters because he can play three different roles and he does them all great. For his age, he has room for improvement but he's a top player," Mourinho said.

"It's a pity that there is only one – I would like three Lorenzos. We try to give him a role where he feels at ease.

"Lorenzo is the first to know that as a captain, the most important thing is to be available to the team."