Arsenal Target Marcelo Brozovic: Is He Good Enough for the Gunners?

Aleksandar Holiga@@AlexHoligaFeatured ColumnistOctober 19, 2014

Croatia's Marcelo Brozovic, left, tries to score next to Bulgaria's Nikolay Gadzhev, during their Euro 2016 group H qualifying soccer match at Vassil Levski stadium in Sofia, Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Valentina Petrova)
Valentina Petrova/Associated Press

Dinamo Zagreb’s Marcelo Brozovic has become a regular for Croatia's national team and is reportedly on Arsene Wenger’s radar—but is the 21-year-old midfielder what Arsenal really need?

According to Goal.com’s Hrvoje Tironi, “several English teams” are interested in acquiring Brozovic’s services, which has reportedly been confirmed by the player’s agent, Miroslav Bicanic. “Yes, I can confirm Arsenal are one of them,” Bicanic said after revealing he plans to negotiate his protege’s future next month in London, where Croatia will play an international friendly against USA at Craven Cottage.

Take that with a pinch of salt, please.

Miroslav Bicanic is not a big “player” in the business, and Brozovic is by far his most valuable client. He’s been known to talk him up before, gladly offering “exclusives” to those who ask for them.

In June, while Brozovic was with Croatia at the World Cup in Brazil, he told Estadio Deportivo (via Inside Spanish Football) he had been in contact with Sevilla, who had just sold Ivan Rakitic to Barcelona. He said the talks were already in progress, adding that he was convinced Brozovic could "replace Ivan Rakitic at Sevilla, just as we know he can in the national team."

He also claimed to have spoken to Inter Milan about Brozovic (via Sky Sports) before Dinamo Zagreb sporting director (and now also head coach) Zoran Mamic said: “I don’t know what is going on. But I know one thing: so far our club didn’t get any official offers for him.”

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And now, following his client playing 180 minutes for Croatia in two Euro 2016 qualifiers against Bulgaria and Azerbaijan, Bicanic offered another “exclusive”, this time to Goal.com. On that same day, however, he also spoke to the FC Inter News website (via Football Italia), refuelling the rumours about Brozovic’s possible move to San Siro: “I’ll be in Italy to see the game between the two national teams [Italy and Croatia on November 16] and after that we’ll know more,” the agent said.

However, even allowing for the impression that his representative might be pushing for a transfer just a little too hard, the prospect of Marcelo Brozovic soon moving to one of the clubs in Europe’s big leagues is certainly plausible. He is, after all, part of Croatia’s midfield, regularly playing alongside such world-class footballers as Real Madrid’s Luka Modric and Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic.

But could he really end up at Emirates? Well, yes and no.

Dinamo, as always, will be keen to sell—provided the price is right. In Brozovic’s case, that should mean somewhere in the €5 to 7 million range—hardly a huge expenditure for the north London club. His steady improvement means he could develop into a very useful and decent player under Wenger’s guidance, although he’s not that young (he turns 22 next month).

With his performances for the national team, Brozovic has already proven he can play in a star-studded midfield and not look like someone who doesn’t belong there. His goal in the game against Azerbaijan (a match that ended in a 6-0 Croatia win) was particularly memorable: Brozovic got hold of Luka Modric’s difficult pass just inside the box, quickly turned with the ball and netted a beautiful half-volley.   

ZAGREB,CROATIA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Marcelo Brozovic of Dinamo Zagreb in action during the UEFA Europe League match between GNK Dinamo Zagreb and FC Astra Giurgiu at the Maksimir Stadium on September 18, 2014 in Zagreb,Croatia. (Photo by Damir Sencar/EuroFoot
EuroFootball/Getty Images

He possesses a great shot from outside the area, precision in his passes and a stamina so impressive that it looks like his lungs have been cybernetically enhanced. This guy can run—not very fast but hard.

On the other hand, he’s neither a creative type nor a true holding midfielder. His technique, dribbling and vision are all average at best. While he does reasonably well with his tackles and interceptions, Brozovic is not the kind of player who can impose himself upon opponents. At 5’11’’ and 143 lbs, he’s more of a light box-to-box midfielder—a carrier, if you will—than a physical presence in the middle of the park.

Arsenal look more in need of a good, physical holder than anything else at the moment—although they could use a proper centre-forward as well. In all honesty, Marcelo Brozovic looks like an undernourished, less creative but slightly more direct and durable version of Aaron Ramsey. That could be useful for the Gunners, but it is hardly a priority for them at the moment.