Denis Zakaria has risen to prominence in the Bundesliga very quickly. The Borussia Monchengladbach man has taken only two years to become a highly wanted player. It isn’t a surprise, considering how good a player the Swissman is. Zakaria’s form is one of the reasons leading online German bookmaker Eaglebet have shortened BMG’s Bundesliga title odds from 80/1 to 70/1 in recent weeks.
Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United have all been linked with Zakaria in recent weeks. Sky Germany (via the Mirror) have said that they have held talks with his agent. Tottenham have also been following his progress.
BILD have previously claimed that Borussia Dortmund had an offer for the player rejected in the summer of 2018.
When a player is chased by so many big clubs, it won’t be fair to doubt his quality. Indeed, Zakaria has been one of the best players for the Bundesliga table-toppers this season.
This season, Zakaria has been used as the defensive midfielder in a 4-3-1-2 shape under Marco Rose. But last season, the former Young Boys man played as a central midfielder and constantly took the ball forward more often. Under Dieter Hecking, he had Tobias Strobl play as the deepest midfielder in a 4-3-3 shape.
Rose’s system sees Gladbach play a diamond in midfield. The aim is to close out the central areas and force the opposition to wide positions.
Playing in that deepest position, Zakaria has made the highest number of tackles per game for the side- 2.4. He has also made the fifth highest interceptions per game for Gladbach- 1.5. Not just that, Zakaria has also completed the second-highest number of dribbles per game-2.1.
Those numbers show what sort of player Zakaria is. He is a ball winner who likes to take the ball forward. He is a complete powerhouse midfielder who, despite a big size, doesn’t have too many technical limitations.
Zakaria is also strong in the air, making 1 aerial duel per game this season. It shows that he is very adept physically and his dribbling numbers show that he likes to drive forward when the need arises.
As things stand, Liverpool’s 4-3-3 formation sees them play two hardworking central midfielders. Zakaria played that sort of role last season- like Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum and James Milner do. Zakaria can fit right into that system, but there would be a pressure of breaking into the first-team.
Henderson, Wijnaldum and Milner won them the Champions League. And displacing them would be a task.
As for Arsenal, there are uncertainties about the future. They do have Lucas Torreira, Matteo Guendozi and Granit Xhaka in midfield. Zakaria’s Switzerland teammate finds himself in a near-impossible situation which has seen him get a huge amount of criticism.
Xhaka has been linked with a move to Italy and if that goes through, Zakaria heading to the Emirates will make perfect sense. Since Zakaria is versatile enough to play deeper or slightly further forward, he fits right in.
Xhaka himself has praised Zakaria. He told the BILD: “His development is outstanding. Having Denis in the national team next to me makes me feel better! But he has to stay tuned – now comes a very crucial phase for him. “
As for Manchester United, the Red Devils failed to replace Ander Herrera in the summer. While Scott McTominay has done very well and Fred has improved, they are a midfielder short in that area. Especially considering that Nemanja Matic is out of favour, there is a spot in that side that needs occupying.
Zakaria will get regular football in a side that needs someone to come in and take charge of a young side. He himself is 22, but he is doing big things with Gladbach. Zakaria deserves a big move, but a lot depends on what he wants in his career.
He can go to Liverpool if he wants the assurance of playing for an established Champions Leauge club. United and Arsenal may not guarantee that, but they will hand him a central role in things. And it Zakaria’s decision to make.