Stoke City midfielder Steven Nzonzi has reportedly turned a contract extension at the Britannia in a bid to engineer a move away from the club. The French midfielder was ever present for Mark Hughes’ side last term and helped guide the Potters to a ninth-placed finish.
Hughes is keen to tie N’Zonzi to a new deal at the Britannia, but however the player wants out and North London Club Arsenal are keen on the player. I cannot stress the importance of Arsenal signing a holding midfielder this summer if they intend to challenge for next season’s Premier League title.
Simply put, the Gunners are far too vulnerable on the counter-attack and this weakness has become dangerously obvious over the past few seasons. Divisional rivals know how to get a result against them; it does not take particular planning or tactical ingenuity. Signing a holding midfielder might not be the ultimate solution – Arsenal’s progressive philosophy will always leave them inevitably more open than the average Premier League side – but it would certainly be a step in the right direction, and evidence Wenger is taking his club’s title ambitions seriously.
Wenger has been rather ambiguous when quizzed on the matter of a defensive midfielder this summer, distancing himself from rumours and even alleging the role may go to Jack Wilshere. But it could be an effort to save face, with all his likely transfer targets seemingly only moving further away from an Emirates switch.
It’s time to think further afield, and in that regard I suggest Arsenal turn their attentions to midfield monolith Steven N’Zonzi, who rather conveniently wants out in the summer . Clearly his ambitions are set a little higher than the Potteries.
Don’t let mid-table snobbery cloud your judgement. Admittedly, the 25 year-old is no world-beater and a lack of experience in European football, compared to Arsenal’s other aforementioned targets, is a major disadvantage.
But N’Zonzi’s progression since first joining the Premier League in 2009 has been continuous and promising. He won the Player of the Year award during his first season at Blackburn Rovers, remaining ever-present in the side for the next two campaigns as relegation continually threatened, before being named the Young Player of the Year during his inaugural term with the Potters, having swapped Ewood Park for the Britannia Stadium in summer 2012.
N’Zonzi’s name may not be eye-catching in comparison to some of the other defensive midfielders linked with Arsenal this summer. But do not let that fool you – he’s productive in possession, resilient in defence, physically assertive, has Premier League experience and in my opinion, the potential for further growth is as large as
his towering 6 foot 4 frame.
Likely available for a figure around the £10million mark, the Stoke City midfielder could prove to be a real coup for the North Londoners.