Hermoso’s arrival can bring a welcome end to Arsenal’s Mustafi misery
Oh Shkodran, just what have you done? When the Arsenal stadium announcer at the Emirates calls out Mustafi’s name, a collective groan rings around the 60,000 seater stadium. An almost resigned feeling of just waiting to see when the defender’s next mind-boggling mistake gets made. Unai Emery’s side have been crying out for a lynch-pin at the back, and if recent reports are to be believed, that man could very well be Espanyol’s Mario Hermoso.
Spanish publication Sport have suggested the Gunners are locked in a three-way fight with PSG and Bayern Munich over the 23-year-old’s signature after an impressive campaign in La Liga. The Spaniard was at the heart of a back-line that steered the side to a seventh-placed finish, thus securing Europa League football for next season.
The former Real Madrid academy product has come on leaps and bounds since his move to Spanish rivals Espanyol, and made his international debut for La Furia Roja last November in a friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Much of Arsenal’s and Emery’s interest is Hermoso is undoubtedly centred around the centre-back’s ability in possession. The modern-day need of a ‘ball-playing defender’ has become of paramount importance in the top sides, with Hermoso boasting an impressive 83.9% pass success rate this year in the league. As a left-footed centre-back, the Spaniard is already one of the game’s rare commodities, and added to his tendency to accurately switch the ball out to the right flank, makes him an absolute dream for wide players.
But for Arsenal fans who have been so used to Mustafi’s error-strewn performances and mind-numbing habit of diving into unwinnable challenges, Hermoso’s more ‘think-first’ approach will certainly go down much better. Whilst Mustafi’s defensive stats in terms of interceptions and tackles are reasonably good, his 1.4 fouls per game are double that of Hermoso this season, and captures the German’s poorer reading of the game.
At 27, Mustafi is no longer at an age where defensive mistakes can be put down to youth or inexperience. The former Valencia man has had ample chances to prove his worth to the Gunners both under Arsene Wenger and now Emery, but for the sake of everyone at the club, including the German’s, it’s time for him to be moved on.
So with Hermoso’s Transfermarkt £18m valuation seeing him firmly within Arsenal’s budget, Emery’s side could do a lot worse than getting a deal done for the centre-back. After all, you can only go up after Mustafi…
Gunners fans, would you back a move for Mario Hermoso in order to replace Mustafi? Do you think he can be the solution to the side’s defensive struggles? Join the discussion by commenting below…