Shkodran Mustafi: Why Mertesacker must make way for his German compatriot

Arsenal finally buckled under pressure this summer and actually spent some money on transfers.

The north London club splashed out nearly £80 million on players, including Shkodran Mustafi, Granit Xhaka and Lucas Perez.

All the investments look solid, but yet it somehow feels same old Arsenal.

The club never looked like buying until the last minute, but what do these transfers mean?

Both Xhaka and Perez could theoretically go straight into the Arsenal starting XI, however, Mustafi has to come up against his more experienced German counterpart Per Mertesacker.

In some ways it feels like swapping one German for another, but it’s unlikely to work out quite like that.


A niggling position

Centre back is one position Arsenal have struggled with for the past decade. After they lost Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Petit, things just haven’t been the same.

There have been calls for a top centre back ever since, along with some depth in the position. It finally looks like Arsenal have it.

Although Mertesacker is a great centre-back, there are lots of weaknesses in his game.

Too often the German gets caught out for speed and clever movement.

During the 4-0 drumming against Southampton last season, Mertesacker was pulled all over the pitch, by the good movement of Dusan Tadic and Graziano Pelle.

He does of course have a huge physical presence, not to mention an enormous amount of experience.

Most players do know that there is a ‘mistake’ in Mertesacker and they usually try to capitalise on his vulnerability.

But perhaps it is time for the 31-year-old to take a back seat.


Third most expensive signing

Although Mustafi might not automatically become the first choice centre back for Arsenal, surely it is only a matter of time.

Signed for £35 million, he is the Gunners third most expensive signing.

There have been question marks over Mertesacker for some time and if Mustafi does enough to prove himself, it shouldn’t be that long before he becomes one of the first names on the team sheet.

Although it might not happen instantly Mustafi is certain to take over Mertesacker’s role eventually with perhaps the latter becoming more of a squad member than a first team regular.

With the Gunners finally having some centre back cover, the insurance on Mustafi doesn’t matter!


Quick and technically adept to play the “Arsenal way”

The German World Cup winner is quick, energetic and has a great physical presence.

Technically speaking, Mustafi also knows how to build things up from the back.

With a history playing for one of La Liga’s top clubs Valencia, Mustafi should have a good insight into how to play the Arsenal way.

At 24 he is now coming into his peak years and with defending against counter-attacks now such a huge part of playing in the Premier League, he could turn out to be one of the Gunners’ best ever signings.


Written by Edward Wade

Follow Edward on Twitter @wade_edward

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