The story of Shkodran Mustafi is peculiar enough to spark a conversation or two. Rumour mill or not, a year after joining for £35 million, he looked to be leaving for Inter Milan in August 2017. Strange to see Arsenal even flutter with the idea of moving him on (with few suitable replacements available, at quite short notice) but they did eventually block any move away and the player then confirmed his commitment to the cause on his Instagram a few days after the close of the Summer transfer window.
A reliable, footballing centre back by trade, at 25 he is already well-travelled having developed at Hamburg, Everton and Sampdoria before a big move to Valencia, from where Arsenal prized him on the 30th of August 2016. He is technically sound and has thrived in a back three of late, especially in the centre alongside Monreal and Koscielny. A world cup winner with Germany and now an experienced international footballer, his ability and experience is growing by the day. However, the mystery remains…how committed is he?
There is no doubt that Arsenal are a better team with a fit Mustafi. He is arguably the club’s second best defender (behind Koscielny) and is a shoe-in in the current 3-4-3, and in my opinion gets the nod in a back four also. However, some slack mistakes and weak defending have lowered his stock this season, and after a stellar campaign last time around, his standards seem to be slipping. Certainly something that Arsenal fans will not accept for much longer.
Due for return from his most recent injury setback, potentially in time for the imminent game at home to Liverpool, both the fans and the club will be expecting him to return to the form of yesteryear where he amassed an impressive 17 game winning streak to start life at Arsenal. Commitments aside, a chock-a-block Christmas and New Year is coming and the team need Mustafi back to his best. A strong second half to the season and positive end should convince him that North London should be home for the long term.