The spotlight on Arsenal this summer is more significant than recent summers following last month’s appointment of Unai Emery.
The meticulous tactician arrives as part of a new structure at the club, less in the role of a ‘manager’ and more a ‘head coach’. A more pragmatic approach will see the club’s sporting director, Raul Sanllehi, head up the transfer department whilst Emery is part of a wider setup.
It is thought the Spaniard will have a veto on transfer targets and that part of the job interview process included the discussion of how the current squad could be strengthened.
Emery is used to a similar setup having previously coached at Valencia, Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain, although how much power he was afforded at the latter is up for debate.
Strengthening the midfield
It is obvious that the Gunners squad needs surgery across several departments, most notably in their goalkeeping and defensive ranks.
However, the central midfield is another area which is in need of some reform. Granit Xhaka’s underwhelming impact since arriving two seasons ago has continued to leave a void in the heart of the midfield.
Aaron Ramsey looks set to be rewarded for his fine form with a new long-term deal yet doubts continue to surround the future of Jack Wilshere, whose fitness and possible attempts to leave the club would once again leave the squad lacking in the midfield department.
Francis Coquelin’s exit in January hints that summer targets were already being considered.
Emery was at the helm of the Andalusian club when Steven N’Zonzi joined from Stoke City in the summer of 2015.
Having built up a reputation in England’s top flight, the Frenchman slotted seamlessly into the midfield and evolved his game, helping propel Sevilla to the 2016 Europa League title and subsequent progress in the Champions League.
He has often complemented a more technically-gifted midfielder, who in the first and most recent seasons has been Ever Banega while Pablo Sarabia has also occupied the role.
N’Zonzi has a release clause said to be in the £35 million (€40 million) bracket, which would leave the Spanish club powerless should Arsenal, or any other club, lodge such an offer – an amount viewed as affordable in the current bloated market.
Fitted to the Premier League
The 29-year-old spent six seasons in England’s top flight and was an influential member of combative Blackburn and Stoke sides.
He is clearly capable of dealing with the greater physical demands of English football and it is argued he thrives under such conditions.
Renowned for his calmness and composure whilst in possession and having an accurate passing ability, he also covers great distances in matches and injects plenty of energy into the heart of midfield.
His role has evolved since moving to La Liga and he has offered a greater attacking threat, having previously been labelled as a holding midfielder.
Some have drawn comparisons to Arsenal great Patrick Vieira, and that alone could be enough to whet the appetite of many Gunners.
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