If you had to sell two Arsenal centre-backs right now, there’s a fairly high chance you wouldn’t choose Shkodran Mustafi.
The German has started all seven of our matches since the season restarted and arguably been one of our most consistent performers. It’s quite a turnaround for the 28-year-old who was told last summer that he was surplus to requirements.
At the time, there was a lot of interest from Turkey but with no club willing to match his current wages he decided to keep his head down at the Emirates on the off chance his luck might change. That finally happened when Mikel Arteta replaced Unai Emery.
Having played just once in the league up to Christmas, he’s since missed just three of the last 16 games. Arteta even kept faith with the centre-back after a terrible mistake at Stamford Bridge that cost us a goal and a man.
The arm around the shoulder approach appears to be working and there’s even suggestions the club could soon extend Mustafi’s contract to stop him from leaving on a free next summer.
“I’m really happy with him,” said Arteta when asked about the possibility of a new deal.
“You can clearly see by the way he’s playing how committed he is with everything that we are trying to do.
“The level that he is showing in his performance every three or four days is really consistent. I’m really happy with him.”
Pressed a second time, Arteta seemed to hint that he’s told the player he’d like him to stay and that it’s now up to the club to negotiate suitable terms.
“I’m really happy with him,” said the boss “but that’s something the club has to address but he knows my opinion on that.”
Arsenal signed Mustafi from Valencia four years ago in a deal worth up to £35 million. If we don’t want to lose him for free then it’s a case of extending his deal or selling him this summer in the hope of recouping some cash.
Right now, it looks like Greek duo Sokratis and Dinos Mavropanos are closer to the exit although you wouldn’t rule out one of Rob Holding and Calum Chambers departing also.
Arteta has spoken previously about some tough decisions ahead, this is certainly one area where that applies.