Shkodran Mustafi; The Defender Arsenal Lacked?

                   #MustafiSigns 30/08/16

I must confess, I was not a fan of the German ever. I actually heard his name for the first time when his transfer rumours broke during the summer break. A quick dash to Google revealed that he was an Everton reject, played for a club in Seria A before moving to Valencia. My heart sank. I expected a player that’s at least 6 feet tall, with a better pedigree and not so expensive. Instead we were linked to a Mustafi that have not played for a top club, I mean top top club; isn’t even remotely imposing-height wise- and Valencia were demanding an arm.

Why Arsène was forced to dip into his transfer war chest was because of Gabriel’s injury during the last matches of pre-season. Per Mertesacker, who until his injury last season was a regular in the Arsenal team, also had an injury during the pre-season. Hence the Central defence position was very short. I expected Arsène not to buy a new player if Gabriel didn’t get injured, especially after pulling off a coup with Rob Holding from Bolton wanderers for £2m. For me that represented a very intelligent deal.

For over 10 years, after the Invincible, Arsenal never replaced the CB position with a fast, strong, tall, ball playing CB who is not injury prone and isn’t afraid to get stuck. I dare say Sol Campbell was the last central defender of that mould that Arsenal had. William Gallas was a good centre back but could not put in a straight 10 matches without pulling a hamstring, and then was the very big problem of pace. He couldn’t run to stay alive. Squillaci was a disaster. Djourou couldn’t cut it out and Vermalaene was undone by injuries. Per was the closest we ever came to a complete defender, save for his snail pace which teams had capitalised in the past to punish Arsenal time and time again.

At £35m, Mustafi had a hefty price tag on himself moving to North London. He is the most expensive defender Arsenal ever bought. At 24 years of age and with the crazy amount of money being thrown around by clubs in Europe, I would say he was a bargain; considering John stone went for £50m. Since his arrival, he’s lived up to the hype and has justified the heavy price we paid for him by producing stellar performances every week since the opening day of this campaign to silence and win over his critics. He is yet to lose in 15 matches.

  • Played 15 
  • Won 10
  • Drew 5

It represents a very good return from a player who didn’t have a chance for a mid table club in England 4 years ago. He is good on the ball, aggressive and has pace to chase down strikers. He also doesn’t shy away from aeriel duel even though he’s not a six footer. Shkodran represents the complete defender Arsenal have missed for many years. He’s made the difference unlike conceding silly goals like we did at white Hart lane last season when Per Mertesacker was out ran by Harry Kane to score from a low pressure routine cross. With Mustafi at the back with his partner in crime Koscielny, we are really hard to beat these days. 

I hope that his unbeaten run and fine performance at the heart of our defence will continue for the remainder of this season. Safe to say that at this rate, we are genuine title contenders this season. Here is to great things to come from Shkodran Mustafi. #Comeonyougooners.

-Fair Play Gooner

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