As the summer transfer window prepares to swing open, the 26-year-old is once again generating plenty of exit talk at the Britannia Stadium.
La Liga outfit Sevilla are also credited with holding an interest in the same report, but they are some way short of meeting the Potters’ valuation for a prized asset.
Etherington is not surprised to see N’Zonzi generating interest, but concedes that a big call needs to be made on a man with plenty to offer Mark Hughes’ cause but one that continues to rock the boat when it comes to committing himself to future projects.
He said in the Sentinel: “He always seems to have issues about his future every summer and always seems to want to leave in some respect.
"If Stoke can hang on to him it would obviously be a good thing because he's a top-quality player who's only going to improve at the age of 26.
"But also because he's going to be difficult to replace - it would cost an awful lot of money to bring in a player of his quality to replace him.”
Stick or twist?
Etherington is right to suggest that N’Zonzi would be difficult to replace, with big money required to bring in another player of his calibre, but he is hardly irreplaceable.
He would also generate a decent fee himself, which could be pumped straight back into the pursuit of a successor to his midfield post.
Stoke, as a forward-thinking club, need everyone to be pulling in the same direction and if the Frenchman does not want to buy into that philosophy, then replacing him with someone who does would appear to be a sensible approach for all concerned.