Arsenal fans have been left ailing, in light of their club’s lack of effort and impetus to move ahead and secure some of the very best names in the market. Their signing of Lucas Perez, in some way, was them conceding defeat in their lofty ambitions of signing one of the finer attackers available in the market. Looking instead to resign themselves in yet another low risk, low money transfer, that has become typical of Arsene Wenger when the Frenchman is lost of options, or looks to be a wee bit miserly in the market. Sometimes even both.
Having failed to lure the likes of Alex Lacazette of Lyon, Gonzalo Higuain, and maybe even Mauro Icardi, the signing of the 27-year-old who until this summer, hardened Arsenal hipster would admit to not heard of, comes at little respite. That being said, Arsene’s last dip (or so it seems) in this summer’s transfer market, has been a refreshing change, for the 24-year-old, German International centre-back, Shkodran Mustafi – £35million worth of band-aid is maybe exactly what Arsenal need to patch up their bruised defence. Here’s why:
Moves Like Mustafi
Arsenal love a smooth-operator, and Shkodran, even though that name is not as smooth as Bruno, is just that. Exuding calm and presence over the ball, he looks to make sure he picks the right pass, and his technical ability, make it seem like he has all the time in the world too. Considered as one the most technically-sound defenders in Sapin’s La Liga – he has made a name for himself in the midst of a whole host of superlative ball-playing defenders.
Nerves of Steel
When the sea-faring town of Valencia faced high winds of uncertainty, after the departure of the gritty Nicolas Otamendi to Manchester City, it was Shkodran Mustafi who dropped anchor, and guided them to safer shores. Playing under pressure, is something the German seems to relish, being tasked to spray out passes regardless of the opposition – be it Luis Suarez’s Barcelona or Diego Simeone’s Atletico (see what I did there?), Mustafi takes the burden of building play from the back, upon himself.
The Gentle Giant
Standing 6 foot tall, you’d think he’d be a bit of brute being oftentimes unbeatable in the air – while he can be robust in the tackle, he prefers not to be. The German-Albanian is a cultured centre-back, right-footed, and equally capable of playing either the two centre-back positions with relative ease – owing to his aforementioned qualities of composure and technique. Both of those traits dominate his defensive play as well – the new Arsenal defensive installation relying more on his reading of the game, and the timing of his stepping up, into midfield, to chalk up interceptions and blocks.
His peripheral vision helps him to mostly be on the front foot, to compensate for the lack of burgeoning, natural pace across the ground. Opting to be economical in the tackle, Mustafi will only slide in if it’s absolutely necessary.
Mustafi comes into his own as a sweeper, and looks to be exactly the calming influence the Benny Hill themed Arsenal defence need right now. Well familiar with the demands of the English game, having trained with Everton between 2009-12, we expect him to settle in with relative ease. Technically-gifted, collected, classy with or without possession, gifted with a footballing brain, he is the perfect Arsene Wenger player.