Arsene Wenger has explained the difficulties Arsenal faced signing Mustafi, and why there was such a delay in his signing
Wenger was criticised in many quarters for not purchasing the German international quicker, especially after Arsenal suffered a 4-3 defeat to Liverpool on the opening day of the season. That game featured a young pairing in central defense, with Rob Holding and Calum Chambers – who later joined Middlesborough on loan – the only fit options available.
Arsenal’s defence was in shambles on the day, and having Mustafi in defence would have no doubt changed the way the game went.
Wenger has now explained why there was a delay, according to The Metro :
“We started negotiating, we met with Ivan Gazidis in the states the agent of Mustafi and agreed the deal but it took long to get over the line as Valencia were reluctant to sell,” he said at the club’s Annual General Meeting.
“We also took longer because in pre-season he was injured and he couldn’t have played against Liverpool.”
Mustafi eventually joined Arsenal for a fee reported to be in excess of £35 million, the most Arsene Wenger has ever splashed out on a defender, and he has already looked worth the money. The defender has been excellent in central defence, and has settled into English football very quickly alongside Laurent Koscielny.
Mustafi’s pace has also meant that Arsenal are not as susceptible to the counter as they were with fellow German Per Mertesacker, who is currently out injured. The latter is also going to find it very hard to break up the current central defensive pairing, and has been linked with a move away from Arsenal as a result of Mustafi’s signing.