After Sevilla director Joaquin Caparros denied that a deal had been agreed with AS Roma for Steven N’Zonzi, Arsenal have again been linked with the French midfielder. Caparros recently said: “Is there an agreement between Roma and N’Zonzi? There is nothing. I have not had any contact with Monchi at all.”
The 29-year-old has been on the Gunners’ radar for some time, but he appeared to be on his way to Serie A after personal terms were allegedly being finalised. However, reports from Italy and Spain suggest N’Zonzi hasn’t agreed a deal to join Roma and could yet make the switch to Arsenal. But do the Gunners need N’Zonzi?
Arsenal could have signed the Sevilla midfielder for £35m this summer, as per his release clause, but they instead opted for a younger and cheaper alternative in Lucas Torreira. The 22-year-old impressed for Uruguay at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and possesses similar combative qualities as N’Zonzi.
The Gunners paid Sampdoria nearly £10m less than N’Zonzi’s release clause to procure the signature of Torreira who is seven years his junior. New manager Unai Emery knows N’Zonzi well from his time in charge of Sevilla, but he has little resale value and is past his peak as a player.
It makes more sense to opt for Torreira, especially given his outstanding performances on the international stage. The midfielder looked the real part for Uruguay and could prove to be the better acquisition this season.
Many will argue having N’Zonzi in the same squad as Torreira will only benefit Arsenal as it bolsters their options, but the Gunners are at risk of being overstocked with such midfielders of substance – Granit Xhaka, Mohamed Elneny, Matteo Guendouzi. Adding another similar player would be overkill. And the money would be better spent on strengthening their defensive options.
Arsenal strengthened their attack last season and added to their midfield this campaign, but their backline could still do with some work. Bernd Leno will challenge Petr Cech in goal, Stephan Lichtsteiner has come in as cover for Hector Bellerin at right-back and Sokratis Papastathopoulos will likely start at centre-back, but there’s a lot of inexperience in Rob Holding, Calum Chambers and Konstantinos Mavropanos.
Nevertheless, the Gunners have strengthened all areas of their squad and finally addresses problems that have been apparent for many years. The biggest testament to their recruitment is that they’re in a place where they don’t need N’Zonzi.