Arsenal finally opened up the wallet and splashed some cash as they finalized a £35 million move for German international centre back Shkodran Mustafi on Tuesday from Spanish side Valencia.
The 24-year-old Bad Hersfeld native will have his work cut out for him, as he’ll be thrown into the deep end after the international break with Arsenal having several injuries on the centre back position with both Gabriel and Per Mertesacker out long-term.
“We needed a centre back because of the long-term injuries we have,” Arsenal manager told Arsene Wenger told the club’s official website. “He has already played in Italy, he has already played in Spain and he has played with the German national team.
“He is a very intelligent boy, that was important in my decision as well. He is very focused as I told you, and he knows the rigorous climate of the Premier League and how much you have to fight for every game.
“I know as well he is a very focused player who can play with the ball as well. That is important for us, and all this quality made me decide to try and get him. The player wanted to join us as well, and I think he will hopefully be happy here and will enforce our squad. It puts us in a good position.
“The fact he decided to join us shows he was certainly conscious of what was expected of him. We will not have a bad surprise and that shows you as well that he is not scared to take a challenge on.
“We have Chambers who is around 20 and Mustafi who is now 24, Gabriel who is 27 and after that we have the more experienced players like Koscielny and Mertesacker. We have taken a great player but have prepared well for the future.”
Mustafi has already shown that he’s a high-calibre player, both in La Liga and on the international stage with Germany. He was part of the Germany squad that won the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. He has a lot of experience, having gotten his schooling in England with Everton before joining Serie A side Sampdoria.
He joined Valencia back in 2014 and had two strong seasons in Spain. Arsenal identified him as a target early on this summer after an injury to Mertesacker. One could make the argument that Mustafi is an upgrade over the veteran, as he’s at an age where he can still improve.
The transfer dragged on for a bit, as Arsenal and Wenger reportedly tried to get him on the cheap, but in the end they still got him at a pretty good price at £35 million when you look at Manchester City putting up £47.5 million to land John Stones.
Mustafi has a no-nonsense playing style and possess the pace to keep up with the strikers in the Premier League. He will have to adapt quickly, but if his performances at Euro 2016 are anything to go by, he’s up for the challenge.