Southampton have sparked a battle royal at the top of the Premier League after reportedly granting Morgan Schneiderlin permission to leave.
Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham have all jammed up the St Mary’s phone lines in recent days vying to take the Frenchman off Ronald Koeman’s hands and their obsession has granted lowly Leicester with an opportunity to pull off one of the transfers of the summer.
As the Schneiderlin frenzy intensifies, the Foxes have covertly stole a march on a player every inch as good in Stoke’s Steven N’Zonzi, or so the red tops will have us believe.
A compatriot of the in-demand Saint, the Potters’ all-action midfielder boasts every quality craved of a player of his classification and looks set to leave the Britannia with just a year remaining on his current deal.
Leicester have allegedly bid £7m for Stoke’s player of the year, who is also a target of Sevilla, and if the Staffordshire outfit accept, this would represent a significant saving on the £24m it’ll cost to sign Schneiderlin.
N’Zonzi started every league game of the previous campaign, 12 more than his countryman managed and in doing so, collected three yellow cards fewer and, unlike the Saints star, was never sent off.
Discipline isn’t the only field in which the former Blackburn man was superior.
He made almost 600 passes more than Schneiderlin, while there was a discrepancy of over 400 (also in his favour) in the amount of times they accurately found a teammate.
In the opposition half, N’Zonzi almost doubled the 557 successful passes made by his south coast counterpart, while 340-152 represents another resounding victory for the Potters ace when it comes to correctly aimed balls in the final third.
Schneiderlin’s 37 touches in the opposition penalty box is 50 fewer than his undervalued alternative and he won 106 headers to his counterpart’s 44.
Successful dribbles is yet another metric in which N’Zonzi in which is triumphant, carrying the ball on 47 occasions without conceding possession as opposed to the 16 times his adversary achieved the feat from his measly 24 attempts.
Similarly, 20 Southampton chances created via his boot can’t compare to the 34 Stoke’s favourite son weighed in with.
These stats highlight the one-dimensional nature of Schneiderlin’s game, while simultaneously underlining the all-round quality N’Zonzi possesses.