The summer transfer window is now in full swing, as clubs try to get their squads sorted in preparation for next season. Arsenal has brought in one notable first team player; holding midfielder Granit Xhaka, and many expected them to do some more business, especially at the top end of the pitch to take some of the burdens off Olivier Giroud.
Many pundits believed at the back end of last season that even their defensive set-up needed an upgrade, but that situation has now escalated from a need for an upgrade to an absolute necessity, following the long-term injury to Per Mertesacker.
The Gunners have signed promising young defender Rob Holding from Bolton, but still need an experienced defender to come straight into the first team. One of the names making the rumour mill is German international defender Shkodran Mustafi, who currently plies his trade at Valencia. Here are some of the reasons why the defender will vastly improve the red half of North London:
He will complement the current roster of Arsenal defenders
Most great centre back pairings combine an aggressive ball winner, with a much calmer sweeper partner. Think Pique and Puyol, or Ferdinand and Vidic. With Mertesacker out for a rumoured five months, Arsenal’s calming influence in defence is gone, with Gabriel Paulista and Laurent Koscielny more of the aggressive breed. Signing Mustafi should see Arsene Wenger’s side retain their calm influence in defence. Also, he is much quicker than Per Mertesacker, and should perform better in Arsenal’s high defensive line setup.
He is very cultured on the ball
Arsene Wenger loves his possession, and one critical ingredient of possession-loving teams is a ball-playing centre-half, comfortable passing in between the lines. In the 2015/16 La Liga season, he averaged 35.72 forward passes per 90 mins, at an average pass length of 23.20m, and a pass accuracy of 81%. Another feature of experienced defenders is their ability to read the game and intercept danger, Mustafi excels in this regard too, averaging 4.46 interceptions per 90. (Stats courtesy of Squawka).
He is well rounded
Mustafi’s three years at Everton will have introduced him to the rigours of British football, while his sense of positioning will have been honed in his two years in Italy with Sampdoria. Lastly, his time in Spain will have fine-tuned his technique making him a very excellent defender at the young age of 24.
He is German
Arsenal has had plenty of success with their senior German recruits recently with Jens Lehman, Per Mertesacker and Mesut Ozil performing at a very high level in the famous red and white. German players come with a certain sense of efficiency and professionalism, and in a season when every point is likely to count at the end of the season, signing an efficient, world cup winner sounds like a great idea.
He is down to Earth
With the money and fame that comes with modern football, it is rare to see a footballer who shows any semblance of humility. Mustafi, on more than one occasion, has spoken of how he is fortunate to be in his position, and how it isn’t to be taken for granted.
He also comes off as a young man with mature mentality. In a recent interview with 11 Freunde, he said “At the end of it all, I’m a person like any other who is on the Earth to strive for paradise. That’s my task, and if I play a crap game today, it’s not the end of the world”. Arsene Wenger is wary of players with overinflated egos, and will very much like the humility of Shkodran Mustafi.