Napoli stall on Barcelona's Javier Mascherano - Arsenal must step-in

Former Liverpool battler Javier Mascherano is seemingly available in the transfer market but the latest news is that Napoli are stalling on a deal.

When Arsenal lost heavily to Manchester City six months ago, conceding six goals, the result could have been dismissed as a freak - an aberration - but when they lost 5-1 to Liverpool just two months later, a trend had formed.

Then, in March, the Gunners blew it at Stamford Bridge and were completely humiliated 6-0 by Chelsea - questions had to be asked.

Despite various low points, Arsene Wenger's team demonstrated a number of things: a, they have the first-team potential to challenge for titles; b: they are ready to breed success following a strong cup win; c: injury crises will always occur unless drastic back-room action is taken and d: a Plan B is sometimes a mandatory requirement.

Wenger's naivety when it came to preparation was underlined when Cesc Fabregas implied that, during his first season at Barcelona, they did more tactical training and chalkboard lectures - strategy planning for opponents effectively - than he ever did during his time at N5, with Arsene.

Jose Mourinho took more points off the participant members of the top four in the Premier League than any others, while Arsenal seemingly were jinxed against the 'bigger' teams. 

The main difference was that Mourinho deployed two defensive-minded midfielders in the '2' of the 4-2-3-1 formation that Wenger also utilises.

Clearly, the ability to be flexible in one's approach, instead of utilising the same 'Wenger-ball' approach game-in, game-out, was the difference between a stringent defence at the Blues and a good rearguard (the majority of the time) that was capable of being destroyed whenever it was up against the truly elite.

Only, at Arsenal, there is just one player who can fulfil that role - the nullifier - effectively at the highest level; Mathieu Flamini.

Having Mikel Arteta as his partner was not going to yield results against the romping attacks at Anfield and the Etihad. Arteta is a cultured passer, yes, but a rabid tackler with grenades in his boots he is not.

This must be rectified in the summer transfer window. For Arsenal to have consistency in a long league campaign, Wenger must have the option of fielding two true defensive midfielders. 

He has been linked with one, Javi Martinez at Bayern Munich, but there is another seemingly already available for purchase - Javier Mascherano, at Barcelona, as Napoli appear to be stalling on his acquisition. 

Mascherano has a valuation of £13.2 million and, combined with his likely salary expectations, could cost up to £30 million for a three-year contract in addition to any transfer fee sent to Camp Nou.

Considering the player is 29, Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis appears to be haggling over the price: "I'm not against signing Mascherano, but if it is going to cost me £30 million for three years I'll decline," he is quoted to have said by MARCA.

Wenger reportedly has excess to a large transfer fund, speculatively worth up to £100m.

Mascherano has an abundance of proven Premier League experience with Liverpool, is accomplished in two positions Arsenal a: need first-team options in and b: cover for (defensive midfield and centre back, respectively), surely the prospective £13.2 million transfer fee would represent money well spent?

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