After the recent injury to Per Mertesacker, Arsene Wenger has been handed a new headache and the team has been reduced of an established defender. Arsenal had the requirement of bringing some players in but bolstering the defence was not the priority. The club was more inclined to go after a Number 9. The sudden injury has provided the need to act quickly and with a very few world class defenders available at the moment the task is very hard to accomplish. Nevertheless, there are a few names which would interest the likes of Wenger and Arsenal and one of those names in the list is Shkodran Mustafi.
The Germany international is currently playing for Valencia and ironically was offered to Arsenal earlier in the summer. With the presence of 4 players who can potentially play as a CB from the first team and the acquisition of Rob Holding, another young centre-back from Bolton, Arsenal didn’t opt for the offer. In a matter of a few days, things have changed as it usually does in the transfer window and more frequently at Arsenal, and now the Valencia defender is being pursued by the club desperately.
Mustafi spent 3 years in England previously when he was in the Everton squad, but didn’t make a single appearance. He was termed as a reject and was offloaded to a Serie B side (at that time) U.C Sampdoria on a free transfer in the winter transfer window. Sampdoria won back promotion in that very season and returned to the Serie A for 2012/13. The typical German ‘Never Say Die’ attitude came to his fore as he turned his career around in spectacular fashion and delivered some very convincing performances in his first full season and continued his form into the second season where he was one of the star performers of the side consistent amidst the managerial merry go round which occurred at the club. The defender who was transferred for free saw him being valued by La Liga outfit Valencia for €8m as they paid the sum to take him to the Mestalla.
Valencia was a great experience for the 24-year old who in his two years at the club has made a total of 78 appearances and scored 6 goals. The 6ft defender has been one of the club’s most consistent players over the two seasons and has really made a name for himself displaying some excellent abilities in the air and in his reading of the game. The intelligence of the defender allows him to intercept passes and his pace also serves him well in those situations. Arsenal does have Laurent Koscielny, who has been the mainstay of the team’s backline but in the absence of Mertesacker neither Gabriel nor Chambers has shown that they can realistically fill the gap and forge a decent partnership. Young Rob Holding has been bought to fill the gap but not as an immediate option.
The acquisition of Mustafi could thus be very crucial for Arsenal not only for this season but also for the future. At 24 years and already having gained much experience in both club and international level, the thoroughly consistent defender can be the perfect replacement for Arsenal’s BFG and has the potential to continue being one of the two in the central defence for the club in the future as well.