Mikel Arteta speaks out on Arsenal outcast Shkodran Mustafi’s future amid Barcelona links

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta during the FA Cup Third Round match between Arsenal and Newcastle United at Emirates Stadium on January 09, 2021 in London, England. The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution.
Arteta spoke out on Mustafi’s future (Picture: Getty Images)

Shkodran Mustafi has been left out in the cold this season but Mikel Arteta has no immediate plans to sell him in the January transfer window.

The Germany international’s contract expires in the summer and he can walk away on a free transfer at the end of the season.

He has struggled to hold a place in the side down since a hamstring injury ruled him out of last season’s FA Cup final and has featured just three times from the bench in the Premier League this term.

Despite his lack of game time, Mustafi has remarkably been linked with a shock move to Barcelona this month – and his agent confirmed he’d held talks with the Catalan giants at the end of December.

However, Arteta is not planning on offloading the centre-half this month, particularly after William Saliba left on loan and with Sokratis Papastathopoulos set to depart in the coming days.

‘His future right now is here,’ said Arteta. ‘Trying to help.

‘We have Papa that probably is going to leave the club this window, we have William that has already gone on loan. So we don’t have that many right now.

Shkodran Mustafi of Arsenal during a training session at London Colney on January 01, 2021 in St Albans, England.
Mustafi has been left out in the cold (Picture: Getty)

‘Gabi [Magalhaes] has been out for a period, David [Luiz] has been injured, so the situation is completely different to before.’

Explaining why Mustafi hadn’t featured in his plans much in the 2020/21 campaign, Arteta added: ‘Well Musti came back from a really difficult injury when he got injured at the end of last season.

‘After that period he was doing really well. I think his performances were increasing and getting better and better.

‘And when he came back that’s when we had seven or eight central defenders. So he had to get his performance level up.

‘I think physically he still needed some time. Then he started to play some games in Europe which I think he did well as well.

‘And now it’s about, yeah, when do you make the next step to be the starter? And the reality is that we have to change that for different reasons, use different personnel.

‘He’s been very close in a few games. But now we’ve found as well a partnership that is giving us clean sheets, and sometimes when you do that it’s difficult to change. But he’s still in contention.’

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