Arsenal Transfer News: Gunners Rumoured in Two-Horse Race to Sign Steven Nzonzi

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistJuly 30, 2018

SEVILLE, SPAIN - MAY 04:  Steven N'Zonzi of Sevilla FC looks on during the La Liga match between Sevilla and Real Sociedad  at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on May 4, 2018 in Seville, .  (Photo by Aitor Alcalde Colomer/Getty Images)
Aitor Alcalde Colomer/Getty Images

Arsenal are reportedly in a head-to-head battle with AS Roma to sign Sevilla midfielder Steven Nzonzi, who is "almost certain" to leave for new pastures this summer. 

AS (h/t Sport Witness) reported Roma have waded back into the transfer race after Roma director of football, Monchi, Sevilla's transfer guru of 17 years, indicated earlier this summer the Italians weren't interested.

It's said the Giallorossi will still refuse to pay his €40 million (£35.6 million) release clause, and although that price also seems steep for Arsenal, the Gunners could have more readily available funds to satisfy Sevilla's valuation.

It was new Gunners manager Unai Emery who brought Nzonzi to Spain from Stoke City in 2015, and it could be the same manager who brings him back to England's top flight three years on.

Get Italian Football News recently referred to a report from Sky Sport Italy journalist Angelo Mangiante, who indicated the kind of fee Nzonzi's La Liga employers could be convinced to settle for:

Get Italian Football News @_GIFN

Roma are getting close to a deal for Sevilla midfielder Steven N’Zonzi for €25 million plus bonuses but Maxime Gonalons has to leave first. Meanwhile, Leon Bailey costs too much for the Giallorossi, according to @angelomangiante.

Emery has already signed a battling midfield force in Lucas Torreira, the Uruguayan who arrived from Sampdoria, but 6'6" Nzonzi would offer a more imposing presence in the middle of the park.

It's suggested the player's selection to France's 2018 FIFA World Cup-winning squad has encouraged Sevilla to hold out for a higher fee for their player, despite the fact he made only one start and played 141 of a possible 630 minutes in Russia.

Nzonzi is contracted at Sevilla until the summer of 2020, but an exit looks likely this summer after EFE (h/t Sport) reported at the start of July that the player had submitted a "transfer request" via his father. 

A return to England would signal the latest leg in a series of winding career turns for Nzonzi, as explained by the Irish Independent's Cian Tracey:

Cian Tracey @CianTracey1

Steven Nzonzi has had quite the journey in the last few years. 2011: Called up by Congo 2012: Relegated with Blackburn 2016: Inquires about playing with England 2017: Makes France debut 2018: World Cup winner #FRA #WorldCupFinal

Nzonzi's is highly regarded at Sevilla and has enhanced his game since leaving Stoke, but his place at the club was put in doubt after he fell out with former manager Eduardo Berizzo last season.

He was substituted by Berizzo at half-time in a 3-3 UEFA Champions League draw against Liverpool in November and told France Football (h/t MailOnline's Jordan Seward) his time at the club was over:

"The coach pointed the finger at me [at half-time of the Liverpool game]. I will not repeat it...but his words affected me.


"The fact I was always professional despite the circumstances, that I always did my job, I found it unfair.

"My future is clearly away from Seville. The only thing that disappoints me is the way it has ended."

The change in manager seemingly hasn't convinced Nzonzi to persevere in Seville considering his request to leave, although Roma, who finished third in Serie A last season, can provide Champions League football, while Arsenal cannot.

The prospect of moving to England's capital may be seen as a major selling point, and Arsenal have until August 9 to get a deal over the line for their World Cup-winning target.