Two seasons ago, Denis Zakaria was heavily linked to Manchester City, and hailed by pundits and fans alike as the next coming of Fernandinho. The Swiss midfielder still possesses all of the same qualities he did back when the speculation first surfaced, yet no one seems to talk about Zakaria in that same light anymore. Still only 24-years-old, Zakaria still has the world at his feet and should develop into one of the very best defensive midfielders in the world. If Manchester City had him on their radar, every other club should too.
If there is one word to sum up Denis Zakaria and all that he encapsulates, it would be ‘beast.’ The 24-year old Monchengladbach man is an absolute beast in front of the back-four, and stands out in every defensive category. He regularly comes up with solid numbers in both tackles and interceptions, and he rarely makes mistakes, mistimes tackles or gives away fouls. Having not been given too many minutes to shine this season, the decline in the number of discussions around Zakaria is understandable. But he still averages over 3 tackles + interceptions per 90 minutes. Also quite good in the air, Gladbach’s defense looks infinitely better whenever he’s present in midfield.
On top of his standout defensive abilities, the Swiss midfielder is an excellent on-the-ball presence for his team. He’s completed nearly 88% of his passes this season, and often drops in between the two centre-backs as Rodrigo and Fernandinho do for Manchester City. He’s even spent time as a libero in a back-three, a compliment to his ability to control a game.
As if that wasn’t enough to convince you of his quality, Zakaria has an excellent engine in midfield. The Swiss is a wonderful dribbler, completing nearly 2 dribbles per 90 minutes in the league. He can be an outstanding box-to-box presence, or hold his position in front of the back four and slide left to right. Due to his speed and excellent timing in the tackle, Zakaria is fantastic in transitional moments. Gladbach require this of their players, but it’s also a necessary predecessor to play for top teams like Pep’s Manchester City, Conte’s Inter, and Tuchel’s Chelsea. In fact, recovery in transition is one of the main reasons why Guardiola signed Rodrigo from Atletico Madrid in the first place. Signing Zakaria would be no different, and offer the teams mentioned above with another world class midfielder in their ranks.
With all of these standout qualities, Denis Zakaria really should be one of the most sought after midfielders in the world. Given that he’s still playing for Gladbach after years of speculation regarding his future, the fee to sign the 24-year-old likely wouldn’t be all that grave either. A club like Manchester City should continue to have him on their radar, and if Manchester City have him in their sights, every single top team should as well. Whether or not anyone splashes the cash to sign Denis Zakaria shall remain to be seen, but for now he is in fantastic form, leading Gladbach toward a top six charge.