Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has reportedly opened talks with Spanish giants Valencia for their highly-rated defender Shkodran Mustafi.
Arsenal suffered a huge blow when their star defender Per Mertesacker sustained a horrendous knee injury. As reported by Sky Sports, Wenger claimed that the German would be out for a few months, leaving the Gunners threadbare at the back. Apart from French defensive stalwart Laurent Koscielny, Arsenal’s other options are Calum Chambers, Gabriel Paulista and Rob Holding, none of whom would be an immediate first-choice replacement for the German, leaving the boss in dire need of a quality centre-back.
By the looks of things, Wenger has managed to narrow down his options and has made German defender Shkodran Mustafi his primary transfer target of the summer. According to Sky, the Frenchman has opened talks with Valenica in order to bring Mustafi to the Emirates. He has a release clause of £42.1 million, but it is suggested that Wenger could bring him for as less as £25.3 million plus an additional £8.4 million in add-ons. The 24-year-old would undoubtedly be a valuable addition to the Gunners roster and bolster a Mertesacker-less defence.
Arsenal finished at their highest league position in ten years after they ended the 2015/16 campaign in second place. The centre-back pairing of Mertesacker and Koscielny worked wonders for Wenger’s side as they kept the highest number of clean sheets (16). Despite the credit being given to goalkeeper Petr Cech, his two central defenders played a pivotal role in achieving the sixteen shut-outs. It’s needless to say that Arsenal will miss the services of the German stalwart, but his compatriot Mustafi may prove to be an apt replacement for the 32-year-old.
What would the German defender bring to the Emirates?
Mustafi is a strong and pacy defender who shows tremendous maturity every time he steps onto the field. He is decent with the ball at his feet and can step into numerous positions if needed. The 24-year-old was used as a makeshift right-back in the 2014 World Cup where he played as an understudy to Philipp Lahm. Even at the recently concluded European Championships, Mustafi got forward on a number of occasions and also scored Die Mannschaft’s first goal of the tournament.
Shkodran Mustafi: Averaged more tackles and interceptions combined (7.1) than any other player in La Liga last season
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) July 27, 2016
In the 2015/16 season, the defender averaged an immaculate 5.3 clearances and 4.4 interceptions in his 32 games played in the La Liga (via WhoScored). Even his tackling was impressive as he managed to win 2.7 per 90 minutes. Mustafi is an imposing player, but is also a bit reckless with his challenges. He earned a total of 14 yellow cards over the course of last season, and he would have to work on his discipline if he is to succeed at Arsenal. That being said, given his age and asking price, the 24-year-old could prove to be an ideal defensive signing for Arsene Wenger