Despite some confusion surrounding Peter Lim's takeover of Valencia, by all accounts the deal is completed, or nearing completion, and Los Che summer recruitment drive would back up these claims. One of latest players to join is German World Cup winning centre-back Shkodran Mustafi, from Sampdoria.
Who is Mustafi?
Mustafi spent the early part of his career at Everton, after joining from Hamburger SV. Despite being highly rated, Mustafi was unable to break into the first-team setup under David Moyes, and was sold to Italian club Sampdoria, at the time competing in the second tier of Italian football, Serie B. In the two seasons he spent at Samp, between 2012 and 2014, Mustafi established himself as one of the best defenders in Serie A, whilst also appearing for the German Under-21 side.
Mustafi's performances in Serie A brought him to the attention of German national coach Joachim Löw. Having represented Germany from Under-16 level through to the Under-21's, Mustafi was fully assimilated with the German methodology, and despite overtures from Albania, was called up to the squad in February 2014. When Marco Reus pulled out of the World Cup with injury, Mustafi, not originally selected in the squad of twenty-three, was called up as his replacement, going on to appear three times before, ironically, injury forced his withdrawal.
Potentially brilliant partnership
Mustafi is able to play at full-back, as he did for Germany in the World Cup, but it is in the role of centre-back where he thrives. After losing Jeremy Mathieu, Los Che's supporters would have been forgiven for worrying about their defensive solidity, but with Mustafi and Argentinian Nicolas Otamendi at the heart of defence, they have a potentially brilliant foundation to build the side upon.
Otamendi himself is new to Nuno Santo's squad. He signed for Valencia in February, but due the limitation on non-EU players, was loaned out to Atlético Mineiro until the end of the season.
The Argentinian was unreserved in his praise of Mustafi stating he "is a great centre-back and that’s why he went, played and won the World Cup. Valencia have signed a great centre-back with a bright future and a wealth of experience".
Both players are extremely comfortable in possession yet powerful, although not the tallest centre-back pairing. Valencia have typically produced excellent defenders, with the likes of Roberto Ayala and Adil Rami excelling at the Mestalla, so Mustafi and Otamendi should continue the tradition.
Mustafi represents another ambitious signing, following the arrivals of Rodrigo and Andre Gomes from Benfica, exciting Argentinian winger Rodrigo de Paul from Racing Club and compatriot Lucas Orban from Bordeaux. Young keeper Yoel, so impressive last season with Luis Enrique's Celta Vigo side also joins on loan, adding to the defensive solidity of the side.
With a good balance of attacking and defensive additions, not to mention the rumoured arrivals of Enzo Perez and Eder Balanta, Valencia are building extremely wisely for next season. After winning the Emirates Cup, no mean feat given the competition, the signs are good for Los Che next season.