Arsenal have been linked heavily with midfielders throughout the whole of January as Arsène Wenger looks to strengthen the defensive side in the middle of the park. The likes of Étienne Capoue, James McCarthy and Mohamed Diamé have all been rumoured to arrive at the Emirates but there is one midfielder in particular nobody has mentioned.
No, I haven’t just named a 12-year-old from a country you’ve never heard of. This is a highly experienced player who has nearly fifty caps for Serbia, and here are five things you need to know about him.
Kuzmanović began his career with Basel but moved to Italy at nineteen to Fiorentina. Having amassed over ninety appearances for the Serie A side and scoring only four goals, the Serbian moved on to Germany, signing for Stuttgart.
Now with a more impressive twenty-two goals in all appearances at the club, the 25-year-old is attracting more interest from big clubs in Europe. Into his fourth season with the German club, Kuzmanović may be looking to move on once more.
This is something Arsenal are all too familiar with. As his contract comes to a close, Stuttgart have the option to sell Kuzmanović now or risk losing him for free in the summer.
Earlier this season, the central midfielder talked about his contract negotiations. “My relationship with Stuttgart is very good, but I am out of contract at the end of the season and we have not discussed the possibility of a new deal.”
We all know Wenger loves a bargain but with Die Roten desperate to get a fee out of him, a reduced offer may be available to interested clubs. Rumours have dispersed suggesting Kuzmanović is eyeing a return to Italy but with the Premier League an attractive offer, a good fee may see him change his mind.
Abou Diaby and Tomas Rosický continue to be in and out of the Arsenal team and with Mikel Arteta missing through injury, a stabilised midfield trio is a priority in Wenger’s 4-3-3 system. Kuzmanović is strong in his approach play and can dictate midfield, making him a very good utility player.
One strong trait of the Stuttgart player is his talent of shooting from distance and finding the back of the net. During last season, he was the prime free-kick taker from long-range at the German club and almost always hit the target. As Arsenal lack a midfield enforcer who can try their luck from range, Kuzmanović can fill the gap.
Yet to score this season though, difficulties off the pitch have hindered his progress on it and a transfer away could be the solution for everyone involved.
In the 2011/12 season, Kuzmanović played eighteen games from the starting eleven and only four times he was used as a substitute. Now in the current campaign, in only six league appearances for the club, he has come off the bench five times.
As good as a player he is, his current status means Stuttgart are not willing to give him any playing time until he signs an extension on his contract. With the central midfielder already admitting he could be gone by the end of the season, it’ll only be a matter of time before he gets tired of sitting on the side-lines.
With this in mind, a move away is extremely likely and if Arsène Wenger pursues this interest, the Gunners’ fans could be looking forward to a vastly prolific midfield.