Scouting Report: Marcelo Brozovic - should Arsenal firm up their interest?

The Croatia midfielder turned in a performance of remarkable discipline against Italy as he and his team-mates earned a hard-fought point at the San Siro on Sunday

By Harry Sherlock

Arsenal fans may have watched Croatia's friendly clash against Italy with a particular focus on Marcelo Brozovic, with the Dinamo Zagreb midfielder a target for Arsene Wenger's men.

The 22-year-old's agent revealed in October that talks were planned with the Gunners this month, with Wenger keen to bolster a midfield weakened by injuries and a lack of depth.

With that in mind, Goal assesses Brozovic's performance against the Italians on a night filled with fireworks...

PERFORMANCE AGAINST ITALY

Brozovic turned in a performance of remarkable discipline against Italy at San Siro, consistently electing to stick rather than twist as he looked to protect his defence.

Picked to start alongside Luka Modric - who was later replaced by Inter's Mateo Kovacic after suffering an injury - the 22-year-old allowed his more illustrious counterparts the chance to bomb on and create opportunities, whilst restricting the time on the ball allowed to Claudio Marchisio and Daniele De Rossi.

It perhaps spoke volumes of his performance that when he was caught out Italy scored, with Simone Zaza drawing him away from position before passing to Antonio Candreva, who duly smashed the ball into the bottom corner from outside the box.

Substituted in the 84th minute, Brozovic was rarely seen crossing the halfway line and recovered well from his costly first-half error as Croatia earned a creditable draw following a suspension in play.

Hooligans threw fireworks on to the pitch towards the end of the game, causing a 10 minute delay, but the visitors, Brozovic included, simply brushed off the stoppage to see out a well-deserved draw.

HIS SEASON SO FAR

Both a strong midfield presence for Croatia and a creator for Dinamo Zagreb, Brozovic has enjoyed a stellar season, with Zagreb currently topping the Croatian league by four points.

With four domestic assists to his name, plus one in the Europa League, Brozovic is both a dynamic presence and a shield for the back four, with his displays undoubtedly garnering attention from further afield.

With Zagreb's system slightly different to that employed by Croatia, Brozovic is often tasked with filling the space between the attack and the defence, mopping up any loose balls and bursting forward when necessary.

According to the midfielder’s agent, Arsenal hold an interest in his client, with the club set to meet the player this month and it would be no surprise if his displays this season were to earn him a move.

With Arsenal’s paucity of options in the centre of midfield, they could do a lot worse, with Brozovic a cheaper alternative to the likes of Sami Khedira and Christoph Kramer.

Having dropped out of high school to pursue his football career, such a move would cap a remarkable rise over the past few years.

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?

Brozovic is something of a man in demand, with his agent confirming to Goal in October that “several English teams” are keeping a close eye on his performances for Dinamo Zagreb.

Perhaps most interestingly he confirmed that Arsenal were one of them, with the 21-year-old fitting the bill for a Gunners team desperately short on muscle in the middle.

The injury woes suffered by Abou Diaby only serve to highlight Arsene Wenger’s failure to land a proper defensive midfielder in the summer, while Mathieu Flamini continues to frustrate in his second spell at the Emirates.

The signing of Brozovic would go some way to appease the club’s frustrated supporters, however, with the 22-year-old capable of breaking up the play and creating opportunities for his team-mates, as evidenced by his four assists for his club in 2014-15.

A regular for Zagreb, he signed a seven-year contract in 2012 and Arsenal would face a fight to secure his signature, though the club’s early elimination from their Europa League group may yet sway his thinking; the carrot of Champions League football may be too good not to chase.

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