Still building a name for himself at Sassuolo, Simone Zaza’s future has been the subject of intense speculation.
The Italian first shot into the consciousness of the wider football world with nine Serie A goals for Sassuolo last season, starring alongside Domenico Berardi in attack.
Zaza’s success in his first full campaign in the top flight followed on from a 16-goal performance in Serie B, seeing his development on track at the Mapei Stadium.
Co-owned by Juventus last term, Sassuolo saw fit to purchase the 23-year-old’s full rights last summer – but only with the stipulation of a buy-back clause for the Bianconeri.
Since, Zaza has continued to progress. Hitting eight league goals thus far, the Atalanta youth product has pushed his way into the Italy international set-up under Antonio Conte.
Scoring his maiden Azzurri goal in September against Norway, Zaza has already become a favourite of the Italy boss, who prizes such players with a high work rate.
With Zaza’s stock high and intrigue in him growing, the question has turned to where he’ll be playing his football when next season rolls around.
In January Sky Sport Italia transfer guru Gianluca Di Marzio reported that Tottenham had enquired after Zaza, meeting with Sassuolo sporting director Giovanni Carnevali.
Standing in the way of completing a deal, however, was the lingering first right of refusal Juventus have on the burgeoning hit man.
The Serie A champions have the option to bring in the Policoro-born striker for €15 million this summer or €18 million the next, so any negotiations must go through Turin.
Only once Juventus have decided whether or not to snap up Zaza can the situation be resolved, and it remains unclear how the Bianconeri will proceed.
While Calciomercato have claimed that Zaza already has a contract with Juventus, agent Christian Maifredi says that nothing is currently settled.
He told CalcioNapoli24: “Even his future with the Bianconeri isn’t certain. For now he’s a player with Sassuolo, when the season is over it will be up to Juventus and Sassuolo to find an agreement.”
Maifredi was also unequivocal in addressing a recent report from La Gazzetta dello Sport that Napoli had offered Zaza a four-year, €1.7 million per season contract.
“I haven’t heard from [Napoli sporting director Riccardo] Bigon in 22 months. I heard from others, but not him.
“Evidently the Gazzetta journalist heard some rumours coming from inside either of the clubs involved.
“I can’t imagine what use Zaza would be to Napoli, when they already have [Gonzalo] Higuain and [Duvan] Zapata.”
Not only would Napoli not be able to get their hands on Zaza without going through Sassuolo and Juventus – a fierce rival – but also purchased another striker in January in the form of Manolo Gabbiadini.
Unless Higuain is sold when the transfer window opens, it is difficult to see Napoli ultimately proving a major player in the sweepstakes for Zaza’s signature.
This means one fewer potential rival for Tottenham, though what becomes of Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente at Juventus is certainly the most crucial point.
Juventus have a ready-made solution should they require reinforcement up front this summer, which stands in the way of any ambitions Spurs may have concerning Zaza.
The Daily Mirror have previously suggested that Tottenham would be willing to pay in the region of €16 million for him, but whether they’ll get the opportunity is still dependent on a number of unresolved details.