Arsenal have announced the German defender Shkodran Mustafi will be joining Schalke following the cancellation of his contract, bringing an end to five-year spell with the club.
Mustafi joined Arsenal from Valencia for reported fee of £35m. Mustafi’s time at Arsenal has been largely unsatisfactory from a performance standpoint. Though the German World Cup winner has been part of two FA Cup winning squads (unfortunately unable to play either final against Chelsea owing to injuries), his performances have been something of a disappointment for Arsenal fans, given the German international’s hefty fee.
Mustafi was the club’s main back-up option to AS Roma’s Kostas Manolas. Though Arsenal negotiated for much of the summer for the Greek international defender, Roma ultimately chose not to budge, which led to Arsenal refusing Roma the chance to sign Jack Wilshere on loan.
Mustafi started his career fairly well with the club, however, following an injury problem, Mustafi was unable to recapture his previous form, culminating in a disastrous performance away to Bournemouth, which led to a 3-3 draw.
Over the intervening years, Mustafi’s form was erratic to say the least, marked mostly by costly errors that were often dubbed by Arsenal fans as “brain-farts”.
That’s not to say that Mustafi was unable to contribute to the club in any meaningful way, he was often seen as one of the main reasons that Arsenal reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Europa League in Arsène Wenger’s last season and was a crucial part of a mesmeric North London Derby day victory over Tottenham Hotspur in that same year.
The main draw for managers Arsène Wenger, Unai Emery, Freddie Ljungberg and Mikel Arteta has mainly been down to Mustafi’s innate ability to pass out from the back. As Arsenal began to push a more continental attacking model, Mustafi was seen as an essential cog in the machine.
Despite his blowing hot and cold, Mikel Arteta had been keen to extend Mustafi’s deal further, however, Mustafi was unreceptive to the idea and he is now seen as a means of trimming the proverbial fat from the squad, especially with homegrown spots in the team running thin on the ground.
Mustafi joins teammate Sead Kolašinac on loan at the club and follows in the footsteps of Mesut Özil leaving with six months remaining on his deal. The decision to terminate Mustafi’s deal is similar to the decision made to terminate Sokratis’ contract a few weeks ago too.
Though his time was marred mainly by poor performances and controversy, fans will not soon forget the passion that Mustafi exhibited on a regular basis or the fact that he played a huge part in the club’s two FA Cup victories.