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Why should Arsenal sign this Shkodran Mustafi?

Why should Arsenal sign this Shkodran Mustafi?

Arsenal’s defensive woes deepened further at the weekend after Gabriel was stretchered in a friendly against Manchester City. The Brazilian joins compatriot and fellow centre-back Per Mertesacker in the physiotherapy department for at least a couple of weeks, and with Laurent Koscielny not taking part in full training yet after his exploits at Euro 2016, the Gunners look dangerously short at the back in the near future.

Rob Holding signing from Bolton may prove an incredibly fortunate move, and is set to start the first game of the season against Liverpool following an impressive preseason. Holding is likely to be partnered by Calum Chambers in the centre of defence, and while they’re both very promising players, neither is the finished package quite yet.

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The injuries to his main defenders seem to be pushing Arsene Wenger towards a much-needed signing in the form of Shkodran Mustafi, perhaps a blessing in disguise for the North London club.

The injuries to his main defenders seem to be pushing Arsene Wenger towards a much-needed signing in the form of Shkodran Mustafi, perhaps a blessing in disguise for the North London club.

The German has been a dominant force with Valencia in La Liga for the past two seasons, yet, as with many players outside of Madrid and Barcelona, has largely flown under the radar of the media in the UK.

At 24 years of age, Mustafi has already developed into a vocal leader and a commanding presence for club and country. One of the world’s leading centre-backs and international team-mate Mats Hummels said that he is “an outstanding defender,” a testament to how other plays see the Valencia man.

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Mustafi has been a rock for Valencia since he signed from Sampdoria for around 8 million euros, but last season he really came into his own.

Over 30 league appearances, the centre-half averaged 4.4 interceptions per game. In comparison, leading Arsenal man Laurent Koscielny managed just 3.8, which, while significant, pales in comparison to Mustafi.

The amount of interceptions Mustafi made for Valencia proves that he has a fantastic eye for reading the game and acting accordingly, a renowned strength of Per Mertesacker.

The 24-year-old also managed to make 5.3 clearances per game, a significant defensive contribution that quickly removed the pressure on his team when on the back foot. In comparison, Per Mertesacker cleared 4.5 balls per game on average.

Many have drawn comparisons between Mustafi and Mertesacker. They’re both physical presences who are strong in the air and can read the game exceptionally well.

Mustafi, though, is younger, faster and better in the tackle. While Mertesacker is often given the armband, he isn’t the inspiring presence Arsenal need to push on.

At times Arsenal have looked lost on the pitch and lacking a driving personality to keep them pushing for more success. The German could be that driving personality, that source of inspiration, a provider of some of the mental fortitude Arsenal need to maintain their performance levels throughout the season.

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In addition to the short-term benefits of having a senior centre-half on the field for the first game of the season, signing Shkodran Mustafi would be an inspired decision by Arsene Wenger.

His leadership and defensive capabilities are precisely what the Gunners need to add to their line up to help them push for the title in the most competitive Premier League yet, and Mustafi could be the player to lead the club for years to come.

Featured image: All rights reserved by Ai Kagou.


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