Arsenal tried to sign Denis Zakaria in 2017 and again in 2019 and, according to the Athletic, they could be about to try again.
Denis Zakaria is a striker turned defensive midfielder who doesn’t seem to do a lot of defending, according to the Athletic’s scouting report of the player. Quite fitting, then, that’s he being linked as a replacement for Roma-bound Granit Xhaka.
A knee injury in March 2020 has allegedly seem him struggle since his return but that hasn’t stopped his club trying to get him to renew his current deal, which expires next summer.
The Swede, who snubbed Arsenal and Liverpool to join Borussia Monchengladbach four years ago as a 20-year-old, said at the time he felt he wasn’t ready for the pressure of life in England.
“There was interest from England, which I can confirm, but the people at Borussia really fought very hard for me,” Zakaria told Weltfussball in 2017.
“I had the impression that they wanted me absolutely, that impressed me, my [gut] feeling told me that Gladbach is the best choice for me. In time I can go on to an even larger club; the past has often proved that.”
He also told Sport Bild, “[Gladbach] wanted me 100 percent, so I wanted to go here and not to Liverpool. If you go to England and you are not immediately good, you are immediately outside. It was too early for me.”
Now, it seems like the time might be approaching for Zakaria to give England a go and the Athletic write, “Plenty of top Premier League teams have been linked, including Arsenal, who may be on the lookout for a Granit Xhaka replacement. Zakaria profiles similarly to Georginio Wijnaldum, who Liverpool will be keen to replace after he left the club.”
Towards the end of Unai Emery’s time at Arsenal, the club were once again in touch with Zakaria’s representatives to check on the then 22-year-old. At that time, we wrote, “It’s clear why Zakaria is generating such interest, helping Gladbach maintain the second-best defensive record in the league by shielding the back four whilst also chipping in at the other end from time to time.
“That’s also going to make his club keen to hold onto him though. The suggestion is that a deal could cost €50m, and with the Premier League clubs listed as having an interest, that’s hardly surprising.”
That was before he was sidelined for eight months after injuring his knee cartilage.
Now, it seems Zakaria’s value sits around the £27m-mark.