Shkodran Mustafi- The forgotten man

It is not just Germany’s best defender (Mats Hummels) who is out of Joachim Löw’s plans for the Nationalmannschaft. Germany’s most expensive defender is also the forgotten man for both club and country. Shkodran Mustafi has seen his career hit the skids over the past few seasons going from World Cup winner to Arsenal’s reserve team

The Bad Hersfeld-born centre back became Germany’s most expensive defender back in 2016 when Arsenal paid Valencia €41 million for his signature. Having impressed in Serie A with Sampdoria and in La Liga with Los Ches, Mustafi was a much sought-after property two years after being involved in Germany’s World Cup triumph in Brazil.

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Nowadays however, he has been frozen out at Arsenal and looks to have no future in London. A poor display last December in a 5-1 defeat to Liverpool spelt the beginning of the decline for the 27-year-old, but in an interview this week with Spiegel, he has hit out at the unfair criticism he has received.

“I had been out injured for three weeks but went into the game without a training session because the manager needed me. At half time we were 4-1 down and I had made some mistakes and injured myself again. After that I received an extreme amount of negative comments from Arsenal fans and articles were written in which I was heavily criticised.”

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It wasn’t just disgruntled fans that were quick to put the boot in with former Arsenal midfielder Emmanuel Petit also publicly critical of the German.

“I am self-critical enough to admit that I have made mistakes and can take criticism. But the criticism escalated and became irrational. I became a target and once some people tried to blame me for a defeat when I wasn’t even playing.

“Petit’s comments [‘Mustafi is the king of blunders’] made me very angry. It is one thing to be criticised by fans or media, but it is something completely different when it comes from a former player, who knows how difficult it can be on the pitch. I would expect such a player to be a bit more sensible and realise what that kind of criticism can lead to.”

Gunners manager Unai Emery has made it clear that Mustafi is not part of his plans and he has not featured at all this season at the Emirates. The player has revealed that he would be open to a move to the Bundesliga- somewhere he has yet to appear.

“There were talks about leaving the club in the summer. But there was no option that suited everyone. Arsenal had some demands too. The next move is extremely important for me to be able to write a positive chapter again.

“If I move to the wrong place now then the situation may not improve at all. In the future I am open to offers, from the Bundesliga as well.”

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Mathew Burt

A year spent living in Bremen got Mathew hooked on the Bundesliga with regular visits to the Weser Stadion getting in the way of his studies. Back in the UK now, he still keenly follows the Grün-Weißen and German football in general. Follow him on Twitter @matburt74.

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