Tag Archives: Shkodran Mustafi

Why Arsenal signing William Saliba and sending him on loan makes PERFECT sense

Rumours circulated yesterday that Arsenal had agreed terms with 18-year-old French central defender William Saliba. All is to remain is to agree a fee with St Etienne.

Part of the expected deal is that Saliba remains at St Etienne on loan for next season. It is a term that makes complete sense.

Whilst most will question why we are buying a much needed central defender for £20million, only to loan him out, it makes a lot of sense once you work through everything logically.

Saliba will not be Arsenal’s only central defensive signing this summer.

With Shkodran Mustafi likely to be sold, it would leave Arsenal with just 3 senior centre backs. Laurent Koscielny, Sokratis and Rob Holding. Holding is injured and Koscielny is in nearly ready for the knackers’ yard.

It would be a very naive decision if Arsenal let Mustafi leave and do not buy a senior replacement. That senior replacement would not be Saliba.

So let’s imagine Arsenal sold Mustafi and signed a senior central defender – someone aged around 25-years-old and Saliba. It would leave us with:

Sokratis
New CB
Rob Holding
Laurent Koscielny
William Saliba
Calum Chambers
Kostadinos Mavropanos

With 7 central defenders, something would have to give.

For a start, I imagine Calum chambers would be sold. His fee would basically pay for Saliba; getting rid of any budget concerns. That would leave us with 6.

You do not need 6 central defenders in the squad. 5 maximum. That means you can afford to loan someone out. Remember Chambers spent last season out on loan.

So you buy a starting XI replacement for Mustafi. You then buy a replacement for Chambers; who spends a year on loan akin to Chambers spending. The status quo of squad numbers remains the same. 5 central defenders with 1 on loan:

Sokratis
New CB
Rob Holding
Laurent Koscielny
Kostadinos Mavropanos

Loaned: William Saliba
Sold: Shkodran Mustafi, Calum Chambers

It is important that young players play. Over the years so many talented teenagers have failed to progress to senior professionals due to lack of game time.

Saliba is just 18-years-old and has just half a season of 1st team football under his belt. A full season on loan at St Etienne, playing week in week out will return a much better player.

In 2020 Arsenal would then be getting a 19-year-old defender with over 60 senior games to his name. He would then be much closer to challenging for the 1st team.

So let’s fast forward to 2020. Laurent Koscielny leaves. Saliba joins up with the first team:

Sokratis
New CB
Rob Holding
William Saliba
Kostadinos Mavropanos

Sokratis will then  be 32-years-old and have 1 year left on his contract. With the new central defender established having played a full year of Premier League football, it will then be a choice of who plays next to him. Either Sokratis, Holding or Saliba.

Saliba would still be just 19-years-old at this point, so we would not have to rush his development. He could comfortably spend a season as 3rd choice centre back for the 2020/21 season before kicking on to be 1st choice a season later.

Buying a senior centre back to replace Mustafi and then Saliba to replace Chambers and spend a year on loan makes perfect sense. It would show brilliant foresight and succession planning.

And once we shift Chambers, Saliba will have next to zero net impact on our transfer budget.

Keenos

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FIVE candidates to replace Hector Bellerin

There has not yet been official news out over the state of Hector Bellerin’s injury. Post match, Unai Emery described it as “not positive on first impression”.

From my years of watching football, it is safe to say that the Spanish right back will be out for the season.

It was one of those injuries where no one is near him, it was innocuous. The referee stopped play straight away and it was clear it was something serious. Whether is is an ACL injury or some other injury that we will now all pretend to be experts in, he will be out for some time. He might not return the same player.

With 10 days to go in the transfer window, Emery and the management  team have a decision to be made.

Do they attempt to bring someone in, or do they replace from within?

FIVE

The experienced right back was bought in to cover Hector Bellerin in case he got injured and has already started 13 games this season. It looks like father time has caught up on the serial winner.

He has been fairly average when playing. Some would be a lot harsher than that – although his worst performances have come when playing out of position in the centre of defence.

I doubt he will be with us next season, however he might find himself with a role to play this.

Will be the choice if we go for experience.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles

Against West Ham, Maitland-Niles was at right wing back ahead of Lichtsteiner. Although he was substituted on the half hour for Bellerin.

Whilst the utility man might see his future as a winger, and some fans see him as a central midfielder, it is at full back where he has started the vast majority of his games for Arsenal.

Of his 23 starts for Arsenal i neither the Premier League or Europa League, 19 have come at full back (14 at left back). His future at the club could well be as a full back.

Last season he was picked ahead of both Saed Kolasinac and Nacho Monreal at left back, such was his good form.

He has been out of form this season, but that is a lot to do with a lack of consistency in playing position.

Maitland-Niles certainly has the physical attributes to play at full back, he has pace and power and the engine to get up and down. He would also provide us the attacking outlet that the side relies on – our full backs are our width.

Defensive naivety is the concern.

He can switch off, or jog back when caught up the field. Although this is not unusual for a young full back.

Given the opportunity to play consistently at right back, his defensive instincts will naturally improve. He will also have Sokratis inside him and  – if we stick to the mdifield 3 who started against Chelsea – Lucas Torreira ahead.

If Maitland-Niles gets the chance, and proves himself to be adequate cover for Bellerin, it would mean we would not need to go out into the market in the summer to buy cover for Bellerin. The Englishman could step up as his long term understudy.

Carl Jenkinson

One of the criticisms of Maitland-Niles is “he is not a right back”. This line of thinking would lead some to support Carl Jenkinson starting.

It is incredible to think that Jenkinson turns 27 in February. He is certainly living the dream. But is living the dream enough?

He is certainly not a bad player – and it is easy to forget that he spent a year and a half at West Ham playing consistently at right back.

A bit like Maitland-Niles, if he gets a chance and takes it, the club may well decide that he is an adequate mid-term back up for Bellerin.

Personally I think he has had his chance, and it is time for someone else to get one.

If we are going to “give someone a chance” I would rather it be the younger man in Maitland-Niles.

Shkodran Mustafi

If I say we had a World Cup winning right back in our squad, you would probably ask “who?”. that man is German international Shkodran Mustafi.

Back in 2014, he was selected to start at right back in Germany’s round of 16 match against Algeria. It was only an injury that stopped him seeing out the tournament as Germany’s first choice full back.

Mustafi could do a job at right back, like he has done numerous times throughout his career. He would provide decent defensive cover, over and above anyone else on this list. However he will not provide any attacking threat.

At Arsenal, it is the full backs that give us the width. With no recognised wingers, playing Mustafi at right back would give us little to no threat on the right hand side.

Sign Someone

The last candidate is a new signing.

Whether it be a loan signing or a permanent signing, we would have 10 days to go out into the transfer market and secure someone.

The problem is who would we secure?

Someone on loan would likely not be playing at the club they are at. If they are not playing at AC Milan, Roma or whoever, would they then be a better option than Maitland-Niles? And would a top club in Europe, chasing a Champions League place, really want to loan out their second choice right back?

The alternative option is signing someone on a permanent deal, but who?

Do we go for someone who could be long term understudy for Bellerin? And if so how much should we invest in them – Aaron Wan-Bissaka would be north of £20m. Or do we go big. Go for someone better than Bellerin who will actually be his long term replacement. But is spending £35m+ on a right back sensible when we have so many other positions to upgrade on.

Keenos

How will Unai Emery solve Arsenal defensive puzzle?

Unai Emery is facing a defensive puzzle.

With Rob Holding out for the season, yellow cards to both Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi against Huddersfield means both are suspended for the game at Southampton on Sunday.

Not only does this give the Spaniard a headache for the Premier League match, but also disrupts his planning for the visit of Qarabag in the Europa League on Thursday.

Thursday’s game would have been used to give Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal a run out. Get 90 minutes of senior football under their belts after long lay offs.

Koscielny would have most certainly started at centre back, with Monreal at left back. The problem now for Arsenal is that with Sokratis and Mustafi now out, the pair are now likely to be our central defensive partnership against Southampton.

So what does this mean for Thursday?

Does Emery continue with the rehabilitation of Monreal and Koscielny by giving them 90 minutes against Qarabagm hope they both get through and hope recover quickly enough for Southampton at Sunday lunch time?

Or does he play Sokratis and Mustafi (injury permitting) against Qarabag, keeping Koscielny and Monreal out of danger for Sunday.

The fear will be against Qarabag, the one of either Koscielny or Monreal picks up a little niggle ruling them out of Sunday. This is highly likely. Small injuries often occur after a long lay off. And even if they do both get through unscathed, are either yet fully fit enough to play 90 minutes twice in less than 3 days?

Arsenal were already without first choice U23 pairing Daniel Ballard and Julio Pleguezuelo, as well as Kostadinos Mavropanos. This would mean that if either Koscielny or Monreal were to not fit for Sunday, either 18-year-old Zech Medly would start, or Arsenal would have to move either Stephan Lichtsteiner or Granit Xhaka into the back four.

Logic dictates that you do not involved Koscielny or Monreal against Qarabag. It would also make sense to not play Sokratis if Mustafi’s hamstring injury is to rule him out of further games.

So Medley and Big Carl Jenkinson it is then/

Keenos