Mikel Arteta has refused to be drawn on Shkodran Mustafi’s future at the club following reports that the World Cup winner has turned down the offer of a new contract and will look to leave the club as a free agent next summer.
On taking over last December, the Spaniard seemed to make it a personal mission to rehabilitate the German’s ailing reputation, bringing him back into the fold and giving him regular game time even after he made mistakes. Happy with player’s attitude and progress, he seemed to be open to retaining the 28-year-old.
While that may not come to pass, the boss seems to have plenty of trust in Mustafi who, despite only just returning from a hamstring problem, is likely to get plenty of minutes in the coming weeks in the absence of injured peers Rob Holding and David Luiz.
“Mustafi is completely fit to play and obviously the internal contractual situations will be discussed internally,” said Arteta when asked about the speculation.
“I have been really happy with Musti since I joined and the performances that he has had.
“It is true that he had a long-term injury, he has worked so hard to get back into the position he is today.
“I just want him to show again the trust we have him in, play him and get the performance we have had in the past from him.”
On the confidence that he helped return to Mustafi, he added: “I think there were a few cases when we joined in that position and what we tried to do it is help the players as much as possible, encourage them to play with confidence and try to give the right solutions and then it is up to them to show with their performances where they are.”
While he may have one eye on leaving Arsenal, Mustafi admits he’s enjoyed working with Arteta over the last ten months. Having a clear understanding of what is being asked of him has been a vital part of that.
Facing the press ahead of the Gunners’ Europa League game with Dundalk, he said: “From day one, everyone believed in what he was trying to put on the pitch, how he wanted his team to play.
“I think it made it easier for every single one of us because when you know what you have to do, when you know exactly what’s going on on the pitch and how you have to play your part to make the team strong, it’s what helps the most.
“I went on the pitch and I knew exactly what I had to do, I knew exactly what the coach wants from me and this made a lot of things easier.”
The German has also been impressed with the way training sessions have been organised.
“I have to say, I have never had such detailed training sessions. We are working in great detail about everything. Of course, we try to do our football first but then we analyse the next opponent and see where we can defeat the opponents with our strength.
“He always has an idea of how he wants to play the next game and not every game is the same. He analyses the team so well that when we go to the training pitch, he knows exactly what he wants to do, what we have to train to then be prepared for the weekend.
“That’s the positive thing, when you go into the game you have that picture that you had in the training session, you have the same picture in the game and that helps you a lot.”