The transfer window kicks off earlier this year in England. The window opens on the 17th of May and closes at the beginning of next season. Arsenal are going through an overhaul in the managing positions and backroom staff. The squad also needs some tweaking before the season. With both the Manchester Clubs looking to spend big and bring in big players, it is highly imperative for Arsenal to have a smart strategy in the market.
The Gunners have both Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny to play as holding midfielders. Xhaka has been quite inconsistent and shaky in that position but still deserves a chance, given his age. Elneny is an excellent passer and fared well whenever given a chance. He certainly has the technicality to feature in this team but lacks the defensive nuance to feature regularly in that position.
Manchester United have Nemanja Matic, Chelsea boast of N’Golo Kanté, Manchester City have Fernandinho while Spurs have Mousa Dembélé. Each of these players, despite playing in different teams and with completely different tactics have something in common. They all act as a pivot between defense and attack and are quite efficient and irreplaceable in their roles.
Arsenal, too, requires such a consistent and a powerful presence in the midfield to pivot the play. Steven Nzonzi is the perfect fit for the role.
Steven Nzonzi is a French international who currently plies his trade for Sevilla. He plays as a central defensive midfielder. He has a great aerial presence and physicality. Quite composed on the ball, Nzonzi is a good passer and was instrumental in Sevilla’s run in the Uefa Champions League.
He has been quite consistent in the last two seasons for Sevilla. The towering midfielder has quite an experience of the Premier League, featuring for Stoke City and Blackburn Rovers. Nzonzi prefers the defensive midfielder role in a three-man midfield and can also work as a deep-lying playmaker in a 4-2-3-1.
Statistically put, Nzonzi wins 3.9 aerial balls per game, losing just 0.8 times. His aerial prowess and strength make him a must for our team. He rarely gets dribbled past and dispossessed, just 0.4 and 0.4 respectively per game. He averages 0.8 unsuccessful touches,1 interception, and 1 foul per game. Steven Nzonzi makes 0.5 total key passes, 1.3 successful tackles out of 1.8 attempted, 2.2 successful long balls and a passing accuracy of 87.7%. He averages 7.5 inaccurate short passes and 58.2 successful passes per game (all statistics by whoscored.com). Nzonzi might cost something around 30 million Euros.
To put things in perspective, In 37 Premier League games, Xhaka betters Nzonzi only in successful long balls, total key passes and assists. Nzonzi marginally outscores in all departments and a lot more when it comes to winning aerial duels. Xhaka goes to the ground easily and thus has more successful tackles per game, but when we put that in ratio to total attempted tackles, Nzonzi fares way better. The only downside of having Nzonzi is, he is 29 years old unlike Xhaka, who is 25.
Having Nzonzi though would limit the number of mistakes we made this season in midfield, given his impeccable composure on the ball. He drops deep between the center-backs to play the ball from deep and relies heavily on short and accurate passing. He will always dwell on the ball and will not go down easily. His marauding presence obliterated and annihilated the likes of Marouane Fellaini and Nemanja Matic in the Champions League. His aerial ability and presence will again let Arsenal compete against strong and physical teams. Bringing Nzonzi will also make Xhaka competitive about his place in the side and it will certainly add a better physical and defensive aspect to our team. Steven Nzonzi is in contract with Sevilla till 2020 and Sevilla might demand a little more in letting their towering midfielder go but I personally believe, hewould be worth every penny.