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Arsenal Defender Is On Barcelona’s Radar In January: Should Arteta Sanction His Departure?

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Abhinab Ghosh
A 26-year-old sports writer and an aspiring football coach who has road-tripped across the Scottish Highlands, but has never been to Wales. Sucker for cliff-hangers and catchy riffs. Known to be a grunger and not to be a stranger.

In a recent report, Mundo Deportivo has claimed that Arsenal defender Shkodran Mustafi is on Barcelona’s radar this winter. It is understood that the Gunners centre-back is one of the names in the Catalans boss Ronald Koeman’s shortlist for the January transfer window (via Mundo Deportivo).

Mustafi’s Diminishing Influence In English Football

The 28-year-old has been a sporadic feature in Mikel Arteta’s first-team this season as he has struggled to get the nod ahead of Gabriel, David Luiz and Rob Holding in recent weeks. The German defensive ace has featured in five matches for the North London club this term, receiving a total of 284 minutes of game time across all competitions.

Mustafi deserves credit for being consistent in Europe where he is averaging 2.0 tackles, 1.7 interceptions, 2.3 clearances and 0.7 shots per game in the group stages of the UEFA Europa League. He has even distributed possession accurately out from the back as evidenced by his pass success rate of 86.3% in European football (stats via whoscored).

The Bad Hersfeld-born talent is currently in the prime stage of his career, so he needs to secure more game time if he wants to make the most out of the remainder of his playing career. With Mustafi’s current contract at the Emirates Stadium set to run out at the end of this campaign, Arteta would have no choice but to cash in on him in January or else risk losing him for free next summer.

Arsenal defender Shkodran Mustafi is on Barcelona's radar (Mustafi is staring in the picture)
Shkodran Mustafi of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Everton FC at Emirates Stadium on February 23, 2020, in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

What Does The German International Offer On The Field?

Mustafi has got a great leap in him and can utilise his strong 1.84m long frame to overpower the opposition so that he can win a lot of aerial duels for his team. He is also a decent header of the ball and can make some important interceptions at the back.

However, the 20-time German international’s lack of pace can sometimes make him a liability on the field especially when the opposition team are breaking fast on the counter. At 28, he still has a few good years left in him, so it won’t be a surprise if a top club like Barca end up recruiting him on a cut-price fee in January.

Should Arteta Sanction Mustafi’s Exit This Winter?

Mustafi is currently Arsenal’s fouth-choice centre-back, but with Pablo Mari and Callum Chambers both nearing a return, he could soon become surplus to requirements at the North London club. With all things considered, it makes sense for the Gunners to allow Mustafi to leave as they have no real need for him right now. The German sensation can also benefit from a switch to the Nou Camp as it will offer him one last opportunity to shine at the highest level week in week out.

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