Earlier this week, Arsène Wenger announced that Arsenal central defender Per Mertesacker is injured and could potentially be out for a few months. With Gabriel injured and Koscielny getting an extended break due to his involvement in the Euros, Mertesacker, Calum Chambers, and Rob Holding were the only three central defenders that could start in our first few games of the season. However, with Mertesacker injured we now only have two inexperienced central defenders and there are rumours that Coquelin could start in that position due to the lack of options.
We wouldn’t be in this situation if we had decided to target a central defender early on in the transfer window, and spent the money needed on players such as Mehdi Benatia or Kalidou Koulibaly. We’ve been needing a quality central defender for a long time because, while Koscielny is a great central defender, Mertesacker has proven to be too slow over the past few seasons, and the likes of Gabriel and Calum Chambers are too inexperienced to start in the centre of our defence for whole of the Premier League and the Champions League campaigns. But with Koscielny and Gabriel ruled out for our first few games of the season, we knew that now more than ever, we needed a central defender, and we needed to buy one fast before other clubs come in and spend the money. Now that our situation is even worse, as Mertesacker seems likely to be out for a few months, Wenger must go against his tradition and spend as much money needed to buy a quality central defender. The best option available right now seems to be Shokdran Mustafi.
Mustafi gained attention in the 2014 FIFA World Cup when he impressed at right back for Germany against Portugal and earned himself a transfer to Valencia. In his first season at Valencia, Mustafi was praised for his efficiency at clearing danger at the back. In the 2015-16 season, with Nicolás Otamendi no longer at the club, Mustafi had to take on a leadership role at the back, and throughout his time at Valencia he has been praised for his timely interceptions and his resilience in difficult situations. His asking price is around £20.9 million, which is a good deal for a player of his quality and leadership.
Wenger has been stubborn over the years about signing the players we need to compete and has made only one major signing each season for the past few years. Now, with Mertesacker injured, it is crucial that we sign the last realistic defensive option available as soon as possible, or we will start the season with Calum Chambers, Rob Holding, and potentially Francis Coquelin leading the back line. If that happens, Arsenal fans can expect this season to be the worst season under Arsène Wenger’s management.