Is Steven Nzonzi the man Arsenal need to turn around their future?
The transfer window kicks off earlier this year in England on 17th of May and closes at the beginning of the new season on 9th of August. Arsenal is 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 on superstars, it is highly imperative for Arsenal to work smart in the transfer market.
Arsenal has Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny to play as holding midfielders. Granit Xhaka has been quite inconsistent and shaky in that position but still deserves a chance, given his age. Mohamed 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 the 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 with a great aerial presence and physicality. Quite composed on the ball, Nzonzi is a good passer and was quite instrumental in Sevilla's run in the Uefa Champions League. He has been quite consistent in the last two seasons for Sevilla and also has quite an experience of the Premier League, featuring for Stoke City and Blackburn Rovers. He prefers the defensive midfielder role in a three-man midfield and can also work as same in a 4-2-3-1.
In 25 La Liga games this season, Nzonzi won 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, has a ratio of 1.3 successful tackles out of the 1.8 attempted, 2.2 successful long balls, and maintains a passing accuracy of 87.7% per game. He averages 7.5 inaccurate short passes and 58.2 successful passes per game. Nzonzi has 1 goal and 2 assists for the season with a game in hand and 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 while Nzonzi marginally outscores Xhaka in all departments, and a lot more when it comes to winning aerial duels. Xhaka goes to the ground easily and 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.
Nzonzi would limit the number of mistakes, Arsenal have made this season in midfield. He drops deep between the center-backs to play the ball from deep, relying heavily on short and accurate passing. He will always keep calm on the ball and will not go down easily. His marauding presence obliterated the likes of Marouane Fellaini and Nemanja Matic in the Uefa Champions League. His aerial ability and presence will make Arsenal competent against physical teams. Bringing Nzonzi will also make Granit 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 the Andalusian outfit would certainly demand a lot more than the set price. I, though, personally believe him to be worth every penny.