Arsenal centre-back Shkodran Mustafi’s prowess in aerial duels could be exactly what Liverpool need as they look to cope without absentee Joel Matip, as reported by The Athletic.
The out-of-favour defender has been linked with a switch to Anfield in January, a move that could very well be permitted to happen given the German’s contract at the Emirates expires this summer.
“A strength in his play is that not only is he frequently involved in aerial duels (80 out of 99), but his ability to win headers is also strong, with a smarterscout rating of 93 out of 99 for aerial duels in open play,” Mark Carey wrote of the Arsenal defender. “This is a key attribute in the Liverpool side, and they have missed the aerial presence at both ends of the pitch, particularly when Matip and Van Dijk have not been playing.”
It would hardly be the most exciting defensive signing in the world, but given the choice between fielding Jordan Henderson alongside one of Nathaniel Phillips or Rhys Williams, or going for the 28-year-old, we’d be stupid to ignore the latter.
Bar Eder Militao and, perhaps, Issa Diop, the Germany international would arguably represent the most competent signing we could reasonably make at this stage of the season, with clubs unlikely to sanction the departure of their key stars.
We’re aware that Mustafi has been greatly underused this term, featuring for a total of 43 minutes in the Premier League (according to Transfermarkt), but should other avenues be denied to us, we’d be foolish not to settle.
Mustafi wins aerial duels. pic.twitter.com/VO6mboBIPQ
— Sam McGuire (@SamMcGuire90) January 29, 2021
Though Carey’s analysis does come attached with a warning over the centre-half’s mixed defensive abilities, the Arsenal man’s strength in winning headers could prove to be vital with Matip sidelined for the next run of games.
There’s nothing to say that Jurgen Klopp couldn’t get the most out of his compatriot either whilst we await the return of our injured centre-backs.