Arsenal have reportedly agreed personal terms with German central defender Shkodran Mustafi – though a deal with his club Valencia remains incomplete.
Until that deal is signed and sealed, and Arsenal have made an official announcement, this can be considered far from home and dry, but it’s certainly news that we have been waiting an extremely long time for.
Quite why it has taken until days before the start of the season to progress this deal is anyone’s guess, but at least there has been progress. Hopefully, Arsene will hand over the fee required as quickly as possible, and without endless weeks of haggling and quibbling over a few million here or there.
With the Liverpool match just days away, this signing, should it go ahead, has come too late in the day to solve Arsenal’s current defensive woes, but 24-year-old Mustafi has been training ready for the start of the Spanish season with Valencia and may be in a position to come into the side for next week’s Leicester match.
Though, having gone through to the semi-final of the European Championships with Germany, he hasn’t had that much pre-season football, if any at all.
Whatever the status of play, it’s a welcome and sorely needed piece of good news. Now how about that striker?
I’m no expert when it comes to Spanish football but it seems as if Mustafi has genuine pedigree. Despite an underwhelming spell in his formative years at Everton, of all places, the German has gone on to prove himself with Sampdoria, in Italy, and then in La Liga, with Valenica.
Next to Daniel Parejo, Mustafi was the club’s best player in what was a difficult season.
At exactly 6ft, he is far from the tallest, but has proven himself a useful operator aerially both in defence and in attack, having notched six goals over the course of the last two seasons.
He is a regular fixture in the German international setup, mixing it with some world-class talent in Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels for starting places in the team.
According to the statisticians at whoscored.com, the German averaged 2.6 tackles, 4.4 interceptions, and five clearances per game for club and country last season.
By way of comparison, Laurent Koscielny managed an average of 1.4 tackles, 3.8 interceptions, and 5.6 clearances per match for Arsenal last season.
Of course, the statistics will be influenced by the fact that Valencia were piss poor for large parts of last season, and therefore forced to do a lot of defending, but it is worthy of note nonetheless.
With Calum Chambers and Rob Holding both very inexperienced by comparison, let’s hope Mustafi can come in and help those two progress in the years ahead, hopefully to the point where they are genuinely challenging for first team football.
The man is just the sort of player we need. He is talented, he is heading into his prime, he has a wealth of experience, and he is available. All the ingredients are there, we just need to get this deal over the line.
Arsene has been very coy on the status of the Mustafi deal in his fleeting press conferences to date, but he may be in a position to shed a little more light on the progress being made in his pre-Liverpool conference due to take place tomorrow (Friday).
As a general rule of thumb, the less he is willing to say about it, the better the news is. So listen out for plenty of “there is nothing new to tell you” or “we talk to the club, I can say no more” – a sure sign that a deal is imminent.