As reported by Sky Sports, Arsenal manager Unai Emery has admitted that Shkodran Mustafi is still a part of the Arsenal setup. The Spaniard had initially tried to get rid of the defender in the summer, but he ended up staying at the Emirates.
“Mustafi decided to be here, and when he did, for me, he is another player like the others in the team,” the Spanish manager said ahead of Arsenal’s clash with Watford.
Mustafi’s struggles at Arsenal
A product of the Hamburg youth academy, Mustafi initially moved to Arsenal in 2016, in a hefty €41 million move from Valencia. He was regarded as one of Europe’s best up and coming defenders at that time. But, the German never really managed to fulfil expectations at the Emirates.
During his ongoing three year spell with the Gunners, Mustafi has made 115 competitive appearances for the club. His performances, however, have been inconsistent and the centre-back has often appeared tentative, especially against quality oppositions.
Last season, in particular, Mustafi made a plethora of defensive errors that cost Arsenal a lot of points in the Premier League. As a result, they ended up finishing fifth in the league table, missing out on Champions League football. It was mainly the reason Emery tried to sell the defender in the summer.
While Mustafi has been no longer a part of the Arsenal first-team so far this campaign, they have struggled to maintain their solidity at the back. Veteran defenders Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal have left Emirates while new signing David Luiz is yet to reinstate any stability at the back.
Additionally, the young defensive duo of Rob Holding and Dinos Mavropanos have remained out injured. Although the former is back in training, he will likely require some time to integrate himself to senior football after a long injury layoff.
Does Mustafi still have a future at Emirates?
Arsenal are currently devoid of options in the central defensive department, which means Emery should utilise Mustafi as much as he can.
The pressure of Europa League football coupled with the unreliability of the current crop of defenders makes the German international a viable option at the back. That being said, the Gunners should definitely get rid of him next summer, when William Saliba will return from his loan spell at St. Etienne. In the meantime, however, it is a good decision from Emery to consider Mustafi as part of his plan.
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