Arsenal are tracking Napoli center-back Nikola Maksimovic, as Arsene Wenger searches for players to reinforce his defensive line.
With the Premier League title race heating up, Arsene Wenger finds his side nine points behind leaders Manchester City. However, with the international break over, they find themselves without main centre-back Shkodran Mustafi, after the German international tore his thigh muscle during the international break. That’s where Maksimovic could come in and make a lasting impact at the Emirates.
According to reports from Football Italia, Arsenal is reportedly keen on bringing in the Serbian national in January. The 25-year-old arrived at Napoli on loan from Torino last season before the deal was made permanent in the summer for €25 million (£22.4 million). However, despite that Maksimovic has only 14 appearances to his name for the Partenopei since moving there last season.
While the 25-year-old hasn’t made too many appearances for Napoli, he has certainly impressed during his time with both Torino and FK Sloboda Uzice. He has made a combined 143 appearances for both clubs, scoring three goals and assisting a further five more, which is quite good for a center back.
A highly underrated defender, Maksimovic could fit perfectly into Arsene Wenger’s back three, especially given how exceptional his passing and ball control is. In his last season with Torino, the Serbian international averaged, according to Whoscored.com, 4 interceptions per game and 3.4 clearances, despite injury troubles keeping his appearances down to 16.
Nikola Maksimovic: Only Kamil Glik (162) has made more interceptions for Torino in the last 2 Serie A seasons than Maksimovic (156)
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) August 15, 2016
However, it’s his 84% passing combined with 1.1 Key chances created and 4.6 long balls per games that gives him an edge over most defenders. He still could be a risky buy, given the fact that he’s barely made 15 appearances in the last year.
But Arsenal needs another center-back, simply because they’ve sold Gabriel Paulista and while Calum Chambers is a worthy option sitting in the trenches, he needs time to hit full strength. Meanwhile, both Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker are not getting any younger, and with the big German retiring to become a coach in the Arsenal youth system, they need someone for the future.
Nikola Maksimovic is an underrated and talented center-back, who could easily get back to his best if, given the opportunity to reignite his career. The Serbian would most likely jump up at any chance to play regular football again instead of warming benches. But Napoli will want to recover as much as they can for him and with Inter Milan in the mix, things may get interesting.