Stoke City fans will have been quite concerned when the Potters sold their player of the season Steven N’Zonzi to Sevilla for £7m recently, but should they be worried?
Stoke may have already signed a good replacement for the towering French midfielder in the shape of Chelsea loanee Marco van Ginkel. N’Zonzi was a huge player for Stoke last season in every sense of the word, he played in every league game, scoring three goals in the process including a memorable curling effort in what has proved to be his last game for the club against Liverpool in the final day of the campaign.
N’Zonzi did perform a key role in the midfield for the Potters, and showed himself to be almost the perfect type of defensive midfielder for the Premier League. He is calm and composed on the ball and certainly gives the impression in possession of having time and space.
He has been heavily compared to fellow Frenchman Patrick Vieira, both in his languid style and his fantastic physical attributes – height, strength and energy – which allow him to cover great distances in matches. Understandably losing a player of such calibre is a worry.
There is no doubting that Mark Hughes has a lot to replace in the centre of his midfield and whether Van Ginkel is really the right man remains to be seen.
There is a long time left in the transfer window, and Hughes may well be in the market for a new midfielder more similar to departed the Frenchman, but as it stands his likely replacement could well be the Dutchman.
Van Ginkel does not boast the physical presence of N’Zonzi, but he does stand at over 6ft tall and has the strength to cope with the physical demands of the Premier League despite being just 22-years-old.
Despite his young age, Van Ginkel is recognised as a solid, well-rounded player who has all the tools to go right to the top.
On the pitch he is widely known for his maturity on the ball, as well as his control and extensive range of passing. He is comfortable with both feet, makes intelligent runs into the box and has an exceptional long-range shot. Van Ginkel describes himself as a box to box player something which current Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho is impressed with about the youngster. He said: “He covers a fantastic area of the field defensively and after that he has this instinct where he wants to go into finishing areas, he wants to score goals.”
Comparisons have indeed been made with Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard. Obviously we don’t know how good the Dutchman will be in the end, but the youngster does look like a highly impressive prospect, and the more you look at him the more you have to say: why would Mark Hughes need to sign another midfielder?
Van Ginkel could well be the replacement for N’Zonzi and what a stand in he could prove to be.