With Sead Kolasinac and Alexandre Lacazette already in the door, could a Croatian international midfielder be next to arrive at The Emirates?
Amid transfer talk surrounding Thomas Lemar and Riyad Mahrez, Arsenal’s rumoured interest in Inter Milan’s Marcelo Brozovic has gone somewhat under the radar.
So, who is Marcelo Brozovic and what would The Gunners be getting should they pursue the Nerazzurri midfielder?
Brozovic started his professional career at Croatian side Hrvatski Dragovoljac in 2010, having been part of clubs academy since 2002.
However, after one season in the first-team, making 22 appearances and scoring one goal, the midfielder moved to Lokomotiva Zagreb following Dragovoljac’s relegation.
Brozovic would also only spend one season at Lokomotiva as an impressive campaign saw his stock rise again. 33 appearances and five goals across all competitions led to a move across Croatia’s capital and to the country’s biggest club, Dinamo Zagreb.
Unlike his two previous clubs, Brozovic had a longer stay with Dinamo, playing for the club for three years from 2012-2015. In this time, he played 64 games, including his UEFA Champions League debut, and scored nine goals.
It was during this time that he drew the attention of big clubs across Europe, and it was Inter Milan who secured his services on a one-and-a-half year loan deal in January 2015, with the deal including an obligation to buy.
His time at Inter has been up and down, going from a key player in 2015/16 to making only 28 appearances across all competitions in 2016/17, although he did manage six goals and four assists.
According to reports, the Italian club are now willing to listen to offers for the 24-year-old and value him at £18 million, just £1 million more than his market value on transfermarkt.com.
Upon joining Inter, Brozovic compared his style of play to Frank Lampard.
While he may not have shown the kind of scoring form that Chelsea legend Lampard did, it is important to note that Englishman was 26-years-old when he first hit double figures for goals in a season at Stamford Bridge, so there is still time for Brozovic to prove these comparisons.
The Croatian is still a positive attacking threat, even if that has not been translated into goals and assists yet.
A confident and competent dribbler, Brozovic likes to run at teams from deep, jinking past challenges and cause chaos amongst opposing defensive ranks with great success, highlighted by his successful take on percentage of 70% in Serie A last season.
Although he does hang on to the ball for too long on occasion, he often draws a foul rather than losing possession, but he could do better at moving the ball, keeping attacks flowing.
When he does play the ball, it is accurate, with an 85% pass accuracy last term.
His passing is often attack-minded, with 969 forward passes compared to 457 backwards for Inter last season. He also created 43 chances and played 41 key passes, not entirely impressive numbers on their own. But, taking into consideration the fact that he only played 23 league games in 2016/17, they are actually very good.
On average, this means that Brozovic creates 2.23 chances and plays 2.12 key passes every 90 minutes, clearly showing the attacking threat he provides.
He also likes to strike the ball from distance with his powerful and accurate right foot, something that would add a different dimension to Arsenal’s passing-based style.
When looking at his defensive stats, it becomes clear that Brozovic is a forward thinking player.
The 24-year-old made 27 interceptions, 2 blocks, and 17 clearances in Serie A last campaign. Not highly impressive numbers but a contribution none the less.
Tackling is clearly a weakness in Brozovic’s game, winning just 33 compared to 87 lost. He also only won 30.77% of his aerial duels.
Despite his lack of defensive quality, his attacking threat makes him an attractive signing.
From watching him play a few times, as well as some of his highlight reels, I would describe him as a more technically able Aaron Ramsey.
That was not an attempt to insult Ramsey but, he is at his best without the ball, bursting forward at pace, arriving in the box late to score goals, whereas Brozovic likes to cause danger with the ball, attacking teams head on.
The Croatian is a player I would go after for a number of reasons.
Firstly, with Santi Cazorla out indefinitely and Jack Wilshere susceptible to injury, we have little back up for Ramsey should the Welshman be missing.
Secondly, £18 million for a player of Brozovic’s quality, especially in the current market, is an absolute bargain. Look at it this way, Burnley paid £10 million for Jack Cork while Davy Klaassen cost Everton £23 million. Both are good players in their own right but Brozovic represents better value for money.
Thirdly, at just 24, the midfielder has his best years ahead of him and should he join, we should see those in an Arsenal shirt.
At this stage, it would appear that there is only interest from Arsene Wenger and Arsenal, but a deal would appear easy to complete should the club decide to make a move, and personally, I’d like Brozovic at The Emirates.