Shkodran Mustafi says he’s learning to ignore negativity aimed at him on social media despite the temptation to reply to some of his biggest haters.
The Germany international has over 700,000 followers on Twitter, 1.2 million followers on Instagram and 982,000 likes on Facebook – a pretty impressive set of stats for a player who, like Marmite, splits opinion.
A couple of decades ago, top-level players could simply choose not to read the newspaper if they wanted to avoid feedback on poor performances, nowadays, with the pressures from marketing teams and agents to maintain a presence across the web, it’s slightly harder to bury your head in the sand and focus on the next game.
Still, Mustafi is giving it a go, especially at a time when his form has been in the spotlight.
“Social media is difficult to handle when things are going well and then when things are not working out it’s even tougher,” Mustafi told Arsenal Player.
“When things are going well, it’s easy to read those comments and like what you read. It gives you confidence but you have to be careful not to get carried away because you still have to stay professional.
“Then when things aren’t going well, obviously you don’t like the stuff you read. You don’t agree with a lot of comments, so it makes it difficult. It’s so much easier when things are going well because when you’re reading comments you don’t like, you have to go out and play and you’ve got those comments in your head.
“I managed to try to block it out a little bit. I was not that active on social media and wasn’t reading comments, I wasn’t too concerned about social media, I just wanted to go back on the pitch and give everything because I knew that in this moment I was not playing the football I know I could play.
“It gets a little bit frustrating to read those comments but at the end of the day, you have to be professional and I tried to be as professional as I can. Sometimes you read comments and you really disagree, and you want to say something but then you just leave it because you want to stay professional.
“The next day you’ve got training so you’ve just got to take all that energy and just use it on training and trying to improve yourself, rather than just on social media.”
It’s not the first time Mustafi has spoken about dealing with criticism. A couple of months ago he gave a really interesting interview in the German press where he spoke openly about the pressures of living in the public eye and how ridiculously over the top criticism takes a toll on confidence.
Once again, he’s reminding us that athletes, for all their wealth, are still people. An important message to remember.