The purse strings are apparently quite tight at Arsenal when it comes to the transfer budget, although new boss Unai Emery already has several targets in mind, all within the range of prices the club would prefer to spend. Unsurprisingly, most of the names linked are currently playing with La Liga clubs in Spain, although there’s one, in particular, that will feature right at the very top of the summer shopping list.
Steven N’Zonzi was first linked with a move to the Gunners when Emery was still at the helm with Sevilla FC, guiding them to three consecutive Europa League trophy victories. At the time, the Spanish club managed to fend off a wealth of interest in the player but, now, more than ever, there’s a genuine opportunity for the player to finally make his move to the Emirates.
For many of the final years under Arsene Wenger, the team lacked a defensive midfielder ‘killer’ capable of breaking up opposition play with any authority. The latest Premier League betting odds at bet365 have Arsenal priced at 2/1 to finish the 2018-19 campaign in the top four but, to do that, signing a dynamic midfield enforcer will be absolutely essential.
Nobody knows N’Zonzi better than Emery, who got sparkling performances from the midfield ball-winner, renown for his fearsome tackling and ability to stop rival moves in their tracks, while also a very accomplished passer of the ball. Even without his favoured coach at the Spanish club, during the 2017-18 campaign according to the numbers at WhoScored.com, he still achieved an impressive 88% pass completion ratio from 28 appearances in La Liga, and 92.4% in the Champions League.
Not only is N’Zonzi powerful on the ground, standing tall at 6 feet 5 inches and timing his leaps well, he’s also extremely useful in the air, featuring among the top three players in La Liga last season when it comes to aerial duels won. Although some fan blogs might have looked down their noses at his potential signing, less than impressed by how the Frenchman performed during his time at Stoke City, he is by far a much more accomplished and complete player than during his last Premier League stint.
With that in mind, for anyone after the plethora of transfer gossip which always surrounds Arsenal, a recent story from Metro.co.uk will make for positive reading. They claim that Emery has convinced the Arsenal board to sign N’Zonzi, making his capture a number one priority this summer. Such a productive earlier working relationship is clearly an influential factor, with the new Gunners boss eager to have such an important ingredient in the mix, as he seeks to forge a new destiny for the team.
As for the slice of the transfer budget it would take to secure the player, of the modest £50m available according to The Guardian, Emery could spend around half that figure to trigger N’Zonzi’s release clause at Sevilla. Although blowing half the budget on just one player might seem risky, there’s no denying it would be money well spent, especially for a player who Emery already knows can successfully fulfil the role required of him.