A tall, rangy, strong midfielder who receives from box-to-box and affects play all around the park. Sound familiar? Denis Zakaria is precisely what Paul Pogba was intended to be for Manchester United.
The 22-year-old, who plays Borussia Monchengladbach at the Bundesliga, is allegedly a transfer goal for United, Tottenham Hotspur, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, and Internazionale.
In accordance with German tabloid BILD, Mönchengladbach will require £44million for the Swiss global having previously turned into a £20million offer from Dortmund in the summer of 2018.
Now both Premier League outfits have joined the race to get Zakaria who could become Mönchengladbach’s priciest export ever by surpassing the 35million Arsenal compensated for Granit Xhaka after the 2016 European Championships.
United’s requirement for a domineering central midfielder is famous. It is an open secret Pogba’s future lies away from Old Trafford with the participant unhappy and Real Madrid seemingly hell-bent about making the Frenchman their following Galácitco.
Nemanja Matić is another player who will be ushered out the door marked’exit’ shortly with Inter allegedly keen on a January move for the 31-year-old who’s featured in only 160 minutes of Premier League action this year.
Lyon celebrity Tanguy Ndombele became the North Londoners’ record signing while Giovani Lo Celso came on loan from Real Betis with the option to purchase. But the Argentine was prevented from making his debut by trauma.
But, Eric Dier’s future is in doubt and, after a stuttering start to the season, it is clear Mauricio Pochettino’s squad requires a refresh.
On paper, Zakaria would be the perfect match for the Premier League. In 6ft 3ins he has the physical attributes and has been likened the Pogba, the guy he would certainly replace at United, in addition to Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira.
“I have been compared to [Patrick] Vieira and [Paul] Pogba — two more players I actually admire and, in a way, see as role models. When I see videos of these I believe I’d love to play that way,” Zakaria stated last season.
And it is not an unreasonable comparison. Since the beginning of the Bundesliga season, Zakaria ranks seventh for ownership regains at the middle third, leading 1.43 interceptions and 1.29 successful tackles per 90.
However, the prior Servette and Young Boys midfielder are not only a destroyer. While he’s extremely proficient at breaking drama up, he’s equally convenient once in possession of the ball.
This period, Zakaria has a pass completion percentage of 84.8 percent, while he finished 100 percent of the moves he attempted in his first four Bundesliga games after making his debut.
His supply could use a little work — he is averaging only 33.43 accurate passes per 90 this year, just enough to rank 108th one of Bundesliga midfielders.
“I really like to win back possession and that I like carrying the ball and taking on opposition players, but I want to be more efficient, score and help more goals and enhance in the atmosphere,” Zakaria confessed. “I have proved myself to be a fast learner, however, and I am in the perfect place to learn quickly.”
With interest in him rife, Zakaria has had chances to leave already, but he’s in no hurry to leave Borussia-Park.
“I am in Gladbach and wish to remain. Sure, you don’t know what can happen in football, but I feel comfortable in Gladbach. I’m excited about the new season and playing our new coach.”
Zakaria would be wise to recall how many kids have come through at BMG and gone onto big things in the past several years, too.
Goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen began with Mönchengladbach before going onto Barcelona. And then there is the aforementioned Xhaka who performs Zakaria for Switzerland. But he must stay tuned — now comes a very crucial phase for him.
A significant part of that is going to be picking his next destination wisely. While Manchester United’s need for a central midfielder to control games has been painfully obvious for decades, Zakaria could be best served by continuing to hone his craft under Pochettino in Spurs.
If his time and decision to make off the area is anything like as good as it is on it, Zakaria’s future is in safe hands.