Chris Smalling is closing in on a loan move to Roma. The Manchester United defender will reportedly join Roma on loan for a fee of around £2.7m, according to The Guardian.
It ends Roma’s lengthy search for a new central defender and that has seen them look at Dejan Lovren and Shkodran Mustafi. In mid-August, Roma were linked with Mustafi on a loan-to-buy arrangement (Forza Roma).
But following Smalling’s arrival, this deal is surely unlikely. Roma have now fixed their problem position and Mustafi is no longer needed in the Italian capital. That is a blow for Arsenal and here are three reasons why.
Wages to offload
Mustafi is now the fifth-choice central defender on Arsenal’s books. It appears that Unai Emery prefers Sokratis, Rob Holding, Calum Chambers and David Luiz. With William Saliba arriving next summer, there really is no place for Mustafi.
But the 27-year-old is still a high-earner. Mustafi rakes in £90k-per-week, according to Spotrac, and these wages could be off the books. Arsenal must work on a solution to get Mustafi out before the European window shuts.
Too toxic for Mustafi to stay
Mustafi’s relationship with the fans has dipped over the course of the past season. With his performances below par, Arsenal fans have lost patience with him. Mustafi receives a lot of social media abuse and criticism from the stands when he does play.
There is a strong feeling among the Arsenal supporters that Mustafi needs to leave. He is unlikely to change opinions now and an exit would be mutually agreeable.
Mustafi needs fresh start
For the sake of his own career, Mustafi needs to get out. As mentioned above, the Germany international is the fifth-choice central defender at Arsenal. This is damaging his career at a vital stage and is keeping him out of the Germany squad.
Roma would have been an interesting project for Mustafi. He might now be looking for a different club but one thing is for certain; he can’t stay at Arsenal for much longer.