Scouting Report: Could Nemanja Pejcinovic Bolster Arsenal's Defence?

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentMay 26, 2014

Paris Saint Germain's Zlatan Ibrahimovic, left, and Serbian Nemanja Pejcinovic, right, vie the ball during a French League One soccer match Paris Saint Germain against Nice at Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013. Paris Saint Germain won 3-1. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Michel Euler/Associated Press

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has the option of spending £100 million in the summer transfer window, per Gary Jacob at the Times, but do not expect him to ignore economically efficient deals.

One transfer possibility could be bolstering Arsenal's squad depth by adding Nice centre-back Nemanja Pejcinovic.

To cover that scenario, here is a scouting report on the 26-year-old Serbian international. 

 

Positives

Pejcinovic is a 6'1", 179-pound centre-back, who would seamlessly slot into how Wenger wants his centre-backs to play: controlling the tempo from the back.

Pejcinovic completed 87.3 percent of his passes and had a 90 pass-completion percentage or higher in 53.3 percent of his games, per Squawka.com.

Source: Squawka.com.

Pejcinovic covers the field quickly, is a disruptive presence and routinely breaks up plays.

This was evident with him intervening at the last moment to stop Montpellier left winger Anthony Mounier from scoring.

Source: Ligue1.com.
 Tackles Per GameFouls Per GameTackles Per FoulInterceptions Per Game
     
Laurent Koscielny1.70.91.82.8
Nemanja Pejcinovic3.31.32.63.0
Per Mertesacker1.20.33.41.7
Thomas Vermaelen1.00.42.31.4
     

Despite Koscielny's physical prowess and him bossing from the back, he pales in comparison to Pejcinovic from a defensive productivity point of view.

Source: Squawka.com.

Pejcinovic can interchange from a proactive ball-winner to standing his ground and using his size to his advantage.

This was exemplified when he altered the shot of then Sochaux centre-forward Giovanni Sio (now with Basel), causing the Ivorian international to drag the ball wide.

Source: Ligue1.com.

What makes Pejcinovic an all-round centre-back is his anticipation ability, hence why he is great at winning contested and uncontested headers. 

Source: Ligue1.com/OGCNice.com.

Source: Ligue1.com/OGCNice.com.
 Headers WonContested HeadersHeaders Won %Headers Won Per Game
     
Laurent Koscielny529853.11.6
Nemanja Pejcinovic466669.73.1
Per Mertesacker9614267.62.7
Thomas Vermaelen335362.32.4
     

 

Negatives

Pejcinovic has vintage Nemanja Vidic-like moments and then abruptly morphs into Sebastien Squillaci.

Pejcinovic scored an own goal after trying to clear the pass of Marseille's Sochaux loanee Jordan Ayew.

Source: Ligue1.com.

When Pejcinovic dribbled out of defence, he was stripped of the ball, leading to then-Evian Thonon Gaillard centre-forward Kevin Berigaud (now with Montpellier) scoring.

Source: Ligue1.com.

Pejcinovic impeded Rennes right-forward Jonathan Pitroipa and was sent off for a last-man foul.

Source: Ligue1.com.

Pejcinovic's inconsistencies have resulted in him never playing for a major team in a top European league. 

While his statistics are elite, keep in mind he only started 14 Ligue 1 games in an injury-interrupted campaign, so it is a smaller sample size when compared to Koscielny and Mertesacker. 

Prior to this season, Pejcinovic had never averaged 2.9 tackles and interceptions or more per game, meaning there are doubts over his ability to re-produce his first-rate ball-winning output. 

 

Bottom Line

Pejcinovic is a second-tier centre-back, who has yet to renew his contract at Nice and could exercise his Bosman right to a free transfer. 

Wenger has a history of signing free agents from French teams. 

  • Yaya Sanogo (Auxerre; 2013)
  • Marouane Chamakh (Bordeaux; 2010)
  • Mathieu Flamini (Marseille; 2004)
  • Guillaume Warmuz (Lens; 2003)
  • Guy Demel (Nimes; 2000)

Pejcinovic would be a cheap squad addition to Arsenal. 

 

@allanjianga

Statistics via WhoScored.com