It’s fair to say we’re yet to see the best of Shkodran Mustafi so far on the pitch – perhaps that will change under the new regime – but he has played a useful role off it.
The German convinced his compatriot, Bernd Leno, to join us from Bayer Leverkusen in a €22m deal and, potentially, become the first-choice goalkeeper.
Speaking to Arsenal Player, Leno said, “I already know Musti and Mesut Ozil from the national team, plus Xhaka, Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan from the Bundesliga,”. We look likely to sign more players from that league too, including Sokratis Papastathopoulos, with head of recruitment Sven Mislintat having plenty of connections in Germany, his home country.
“I talked to Musti about Arsenal many months ago. “He said it’s a fantastic club with a fantastic stadium and fantastic fans.
“I watched games on the TV in Germany and yes, Arsenal is a fantastic club. “I’ve known Musti for about 10 or 11 years. We grew up together in the youth national teams, the under-17s through to the under-21s. It’s funny to see us together at Arsenal now!” he added.
There is a possibility that Mustafi’s persuasive skills could be defining, given that Leno is arguably the first peak-age top goalkeeper we have signed since David Seaman left.
Jens Lehmann and Petr Cech were both 33 when they signed and weren’t necessarily wanted by Dortmund and Chelsea respectively; even if Lehmann contributed to that half-decent Invincibles campaign.
David Ospina had the feel of a panic-buy off the back of his great World Cup with Colombia and Wojciech Szczesny was entrusted after coming through the youth academy.
Other than that, Vito Mannone, Mart Poom, Lukasz Fabianski, Matt Macey and Hugo Keto were all either signed for the Development Squad or cheap gambles.
Going all out to sign a top goalkeeper who finished joint-second in the race for the Golden Glove award in Germany, but still has time to improve is a real statement of intent. Cheers, Musti!