AS Roma have been quite busy in the transfer market in 2018 bringing in a total of 13 players. With French World Cup winner, 6ft 4ins Steven Nzonzi being the latest acquisition from Sevilla for a fee of €27 million after the Malcom deal fell through. He leaves Spanish club Seville after three years, with a Europa League winners medal in his pocket having defeated Liverpool 3:1 in the 2016 Final in Basel.
€108 million approximately has been invested by the club in the transfer market part financed by the Alisson sale which brought in €72.5 million. The Nzonzi signing is the biggest one, brought in just before the Serie A transfer window shut on August 17th. Other notable big money signings include Javier Pastore from Paris Saint-Germaine for under €25 million and the 19 year old Justin Kluivert, son of Dutch football legend, Patrick Kluivert from Ajax for €17.5 million. Still smarting from the manner in which Barcelona swiped Malcom from under the noses of The Giallorossi, Monchi the Roma Sporting Director has bullishly claimed that 29 year old Nzonzi is better than Malcom.
When asked about how the signing of the France international compares to what Roma would have had with Malcom, Monchi praised Nzonzi.
“Don’t you think a world champion is better than Malcom?” Monchi said at a news conference. “I didn’t say I would have signed somebody with the same role. I said I wanted to sign somebody better, and to me, Steven is better than Malcom.”
What does Steven Nzonzi bring to the table in terms of ability?
“I’ve played an entire season at Sevilla sitting in front of the defence. That’s a role I like a lot, where I feel comfortable. But I’ve also played in a midfield flat two, and played higher up in a midfield three. I adapt to the team’s shape. Everything depends on organising with the other players.”
AS Roma are hopeful of going one better in the new season, third in Serie A behind Juventus and Napoli. Having reached the semifinals of the Champions League before being knocked out by Liverpool they’ll be hoping to achieve European glory with their new acquisitions setting in and playing well together.
Nzonzi has plenty of experience of English teams having played in the Premier League with both Blackburn Rovers and Stoke City before eventually moving to Sevilla. The highlight of his professional career being the Europa League Final and obtaining a World Cup winners medal with France at this year’s World Cup Tournament In Russia. Having only been called up to the French National team for the first time in his career in November 2017 at the age of 29. He made his international debut against Wales at the Stade de France and was selected literally months later for the France World Cup squad, in the finals he replaced Kanté in the World Cup Final on 55 minutes in their 4:2 defeat of Croatia. A fairytale story if there ever was one.
Interestingly enough he was previously called up to the Democratic Republic of Congo national team in 2011 on the virtue of having a Congolese Mother. However he never played for them turning down the chance to play for the country. He was also bizarrely linked to the England national team in 2016. Having played under Sam Allardyce at Blackburn Rovers, at at the time currently the new England manager the Football Association was contacted by the player’s Father on the possibility of Nzonzi playing for England whom were at the time short of defensive midfielders. Having lived in the UK for a five year period he could have been entitled to do something somewhat similar in ways to Diego Costa, a Brazilian who declared for Spain by virtue of having lived there for a certain amount of time.
The English Football Association Having given it some serious had the move blocked by FIFA as the player had previously played for France at U21’s level, with six appearances in 2009-10 and wasn’t eligible to play for England having only been living in the UK for less than a year at this time.
This is Monchi’s second time signing Nzonzi having got him for Sevilla from Stoke whilst he was their director of football.
“Yes, Monchi signed me at Sevilla. He helped me a lot while I was there. We always had a lot of respect for each other, so I’m very happy to be here and work with him again.”
“I am very happy for the welcome that the fans gave me at the airport and the support they showed.”
By Robin McNamara