Javier Mascherano linked with exit - Arsenal should advantage

Javier Mascherano

According to reports, a versatile & experienced Barcelona star has suggested an exit. Wenger should go all-out for the ex Liverpool player.

A Premier League-proven player who operates at the elite end of the footballing scale could be available for transfer in the upcoming summer market at a cut-price fee of £9m.

Versatile footballer Javier Mascherano, 29, is approaching his prime years yet is fast approaching the expiration of his Barcelona contract as it runs out in one year. Perhaps ominously, when discussing the final games of La Liga season, he said earlier this week: "It could be the last for many players," including himself in the statement, as per a report from The Mirror.

Rather than lose their asset on a Bosman deal, Barcelona may be willing to cash in on the player they have utilised in defence throughout the current campaign, with Napoli and even Liverpool allegedly interested.

However, Arsenal and Arsene Wenger should throw their names into the hat of interested parties for a multitude of reasons.

One of the hallmarks of Sir Alex Ferguson's illustrious Manchester United tenure was not only his ability to retain an effective attack whilst continually evolving the playing staff, but having players capable of carrying out the unfashionable side of the sport - breaking up opposition play whilst playing the simple passes that allow the players in front to flourish.

Ferguson enjoyed having at least one utility player in his roster at any one time, an unfussy footballer who was capable of fulfilling a number of roles and could be relied on when called upon. Phil Neville was his man in the 1990s, John O'Shea in the 2000s.

For whomever is able to prise Mascherano away from Camp Nou, they will have a proven Premier League defensive midfielder and a proven La Liga central defender.

  ClubPosTackle/ AppInterception/ AppClear/ AppPass AccLong Ball AccAppMin
Mascherano Barcelona DF 2.9 2.9 7.3 93.5% 79.1% 27 2,270
Arteta Arsenal MF 3.4 2.0 1.7 92.1% 86.1% 31 2,407
Flamini Arsenal MF 1.4 1.4 1.9 91.5% 88.0% 27 1,604
Vermaelen Arsenal DF 1.0 1.4 5.7 90.8% 78.4% 14 782

Mascherano, though, would not be a mere squad player in the Gunners ranks as, judging from the data table above, it doesn't matter if he is compared to Arsenal's tertiary choice defender or primary defensive midfielders - there are areas he comes out tops regardless.

Only Mikel Arteta attempts more tackles per appearance than Javier, while the Argentine - included in the nation's provisional FIFA World Cup squad - edges the Spaniard, Mathieu Flamini and Thomas Vermaelen when it comes to intercepting, clearing the ball away from the defensive zone and when it comes to passing accuracy.

Considering Wenger is facing the prospect of losing Vermaelen due to the Belgium's apparent desire for regular first-team football, by acquiring Mascherano he would have a player who would be able to partner Flamini to provide a stringently defensive '2' in Wenger's 4-2-3-1 when coming up against the big clubs (something Jose Mourinho did so frequently with Chelsea this season) and a highly experienced player able to fill in at the heart of defence whenever one of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker is either a: suspended, b: injured or c: rested.

If Wenger doesn't take advantage of this apparent deal, there will be plenty of other takers…

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