Analysis: Why Steven Nzonzi would be a handy addition for AS Monaco

One of the latest names linked with a move to AS Monaco is AS Roma’s Steven Nzonzi, who reportedly wants out of Rome after just one year with the Giallorossi.

Although the Frenchman didn’t perform terribly at Roma following a €26 million move from Sevilla last summer, he struggled to recapture the form from his time in Spain that ensured he was a part of France’s triumphant 2018 World Cup winning side in Russia.

Not helped by missing the preseason and the turmoil surrounding Roma throughout the campaign both on and off the pitch, to his credit, he still produced many promising showings, particularly after Claudio Ranieri took over from Eusebio Di Francesco as coach, on his way featuring 39 times in all competitions. Despite many people calling him a failure and a shocking signing, this judgement is far too harsh, for he didn’t play anywhere near as badly as what has been suggested. Set to cost around the €20 million mark, Roma’s loss could well be Monaco’s gain, as the 30-year-old would be a very handy addition to Leonardo Jardim’s squad.

Experienced and intelligent, the 196 cm holding midfielder would have little issue fitting in at Monaco alongside Cesc Fabregas, as the pair would complement each other quite nicely.

A towering presence on the defensive end, he uses his height to shine in aerial confrontations and his long legs to nip in to force many interventions in ground battles.

Nzonzi’s aerial prowess

Nzonzi great interception

Using his long legs to cleanly win the ball back

He supplements this with his positional awareness and nous, thus ensuring he does a fine job of reading the play to block passing lanes, cut out attacks, cover a teammate or move in unison with the team’s defensive shape.

Meanwhile, when it comes to applying pressure, he does so with intensity and good timing while using his physical characteristics smartly. Quick to pounce on pressing triggers both in mid block defending or when pressing high, he’s a massive obstacle to overcome. This means his targets subsequently find it difficult to turn him and control the ball cleanly, which sees him force many a turnover.

Moving onto his offensive efforts, and Nzonzi contributes successfully here too. To start with his passing, and the holding midfielder moves the ball in a coherent fashion to help construct passages by switching the angle of attacks and adding tempo into upfield moves.

Usually serving more as a player who keep things ticking over while looking to find the more creative attacking players, he can crucially also break the lines himself. He does so typically with the occasional through ball or ground pass to a teammate in between the opposition’s lines of midfield and defence.

Fantastic through ball assist for Dzeko

Displaying good vision and awareness, he typically doesn’t try and get overly ambitious with his passing so he doesn’t unnecessarily turn the ball over, something that’s a bonus for his team in terms of ball retention.

Although he’s not a prolific dribbler, he still goes on the odd customary forward burst, where he’ll use his athleticism and ball control to charge upfield and put pressure on the opposition. Due to his languid frame, defenders usually find him hard to read, which in combination with his ability to knock the ball beyond his man and use his forward momentum, plus how he uses his colossal frame to hold off adversaries, ensures he can beat a man or draw pressure to free up a colleague.

Adept at assisting his team’s progression through the thirds with his movement, this means he plays a key role in build up and when supporting attacking moves as they progress. Knowing when to drop deep, push wide or move higher, he does a proficient job of generating numerical or positional superiorities to provide an outlet for his colleagues.

Finding space expertly to receive possession

Possessing a strong tactical understanding, Nzonzi also covers teammates to supply structural security in situations when a fellow midfielder steps out to press or when a central defender tracks their man deep.

His set piece threat also warrants special mention. On top of being a fantastic target at dead balls, he’s shown how effective he can be at blocking or dragging opponents out of shape to heighten a teammate’s chance of scoring.

Superb headed goal vs. Empoli shows off his threat from set pieces

Weighing in admirably in both phases of the game, his statistics from the last four years punctuate his worth, as he’s completed 4.42 interceptions per game, 3.89 aerial duels pg, 1.22 clearances pg, 0.43 shot assists pg, roughly one dribble pg, almost one progressive run pg, 55.67 passes pg at 91% and hit roughly nine accurate passes into the final third at 82.1%.

Currently a hot topic of debate, the future of Nzonzi remains uncertain for now with the likes of Galatasaray, Lyon and former club Sevilla also showing interest alongside Monaco. But if reports are to be believed, it appears Monaco are encouragingly right at the top of the queue for any potential transfer.

If they were to get the deal over the line, the experienced, battle-hardened midfielder, who’s plied his trade in France, England, Spain and Italy, would unquestionably be a shrewd acquisition, even if his time at Roma wasn’t the best period of his career.

All graphics created using analysis platform InStat