Roma’s Zaniolo a potential Ballon d’Or winner, says Capello

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Roma have a player who has the potential to win the Ballon d’Or on their books in Nicolo Zaniolo, according to Fabio Capello.

The coach, who led AC Milan to the 1994 Champions League title, as well as Roma to a historic 2001 Serie A crown, has compared the 21-year-old playmaker to Kaka and says he has all the attributes to reach the very top.

Capello was speaking after Zaniolo played a virtuoso role in Roma’s 3-1 win over Juventus, the player’s first start since an ankle ligament injury in January, during which he set up Diego Perotti after a driving run.

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“This Roma talent has extraordinary physicality, power and pace, mixed in with quality. He has the potential not just to win the Golden Shoe in future, but something more,” the 74-year-old told Sky Sport Italia.

“Kaka didn’t have the same strength as Zaniolo, as he was more technical and expressed himself better in the final third.

“I am in love with Zaniolo, because he has everything at the highest level: power, quality and pace. There are players out there with a lot of potential, but not like him.

“Looking at the assist for Perotti against Juventus, to reach the edge of the area after running from midfield with the ball at his feet and still having the cool head to make that precise pass, that means he has great vision and a really precise feel for the ball.

“I don’t see other young players as good as Zaniolo around at the moment, so yes, I think he has the potential to become a Ballon d’Or winner.”

Tottenham and Inter have previously been credited with an interest in the youngster, who posts six goals and two assists in 26 Serie A performances this season, though head coach Paulo Fonseca says that this will not happen.

“We don't want to sell Zaniolo or [Lorenzo] Pellegrini,” he told Sky Sport Italia after a 6-1 victory over SPAL.

“They are important for the future of Roma.”

Roma finished the season fifth in Serie A, eight points distant of fourth-placed Lazio, who claimed the final Champions League berth.

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