Arsenal have signed seven players on free transfers since the summer of 2013; Willian, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Cedric Soares, Sead Kolasinac and Yaya Sanogo, while bringing Mathieu Flamini back to the Emirates for a second spell.
The fact that Kolasinac, currently the club’s third-choice left-back, is perhaps the cream of that particular crop says all you need to know.
Denis Zakaria, however, does not deserve to be tainted by transfer blunders of yesteryear.
There are plenty of reasons to believe Borussia Monchengladbach’s box-to-box dynamo could soon become Arsenal’s most inspired free agent arrival since Sol Campbell crossed the North London divide two decades ago.
A Switzerland international who made his name at Borussia Park, comparisons between Zakaria and compatriot Granit Xhaka as unavoidable as they are idle.
Because, while both players share similar backgrounds, their playing styles could hardly be more different.
While Xhaka prefers to dictate the play from deep, Zakaria is at his most effective when driving forward from back to front, bludgeoning his way through the lines with a burst of acceleration.
Speaking to the Bundesliga’s official website three years ago, Zakaria admitted that comparisons have been drawn between himself and legendary Arsenal skipper Patrick Vieira – a statement that will whet the appetite of Gunners fans pining for a return to those distant, mist-shrouded glory days.
Can Denis Zakaria take Arsenal to the next level?
Now, Arsenal need more than Zakaria if they are to overhaul Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool at the Premier League summit but his arrival, on a free transfer no less, would add some extra bite and energy to a midfield that is starting to take shape under Mikel Arteta, while providing ball-carrying skills that Thomas Partey, Albert Lokonga and Xhaka cannot match.
BILD claims that Zakaria, who has rejected a new contract at Gladbach, remains high on the radar of an Arsenal side who were linked heavily over the summer too.
And Zakaria’s barnstorming performance during a historic 5-0 trouncing of Bayern Munich in the DFB Pokal on Wednesday night was not only a reminder of what Gladbach stand to lose but also what Arsenal stand to gain.