Shkodran Mustafi has defended former Manchester United player and Valencia manager, Gary Neville.

Neville had a brief spell at Mustafi’s former club, Valencia, from December 2015 to March 2016 when he was sacked. The former Red Devil’s first win didn’t come until February, two months after he became manager, and the club found themselves with no option but to bring someone else in.

Mustafi, who obviously worked under Neville while at the La Liga club, claims the former defender had the right ideas and that he’s the type of player who the German wants to learn from.

“I respected him as a player – he was fantastic,” Mustafi said.

“As a coach I think he had the right ideas but at that time in Valencia it was difficult for every coach, not just Gary Neville.

“I tried to talk as much as possible with him because he was a great defender.

“I wanted to learn from him but he was in a learning process, too.

“He wasn’t used to Spanish football. It was a situation where I was trying to learn from him and he was trying to learn from us.

“I don’t know if he will go back to coaching but if he wants he can because he has the character to be a leader.”

Shkodran Mustafi Gary Neville
VALENCIA, SPAIN – DECEMBER 07: Gary Neville (R) the new manager of Valencia CF talks to his player Shkodran Mustafi during a training session ahead of Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League Group H match against Olympique Lyonnais at Paterna Training Centre on December 07, 2015 in Valencia, Spain. (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)

Neville only ever played for United and during his career there, featured in 586 games, scoring just seven. Although, the defender was part of the no-nonsense, ‘English’ variety and therefore didn’t attack as nearly as often as defenders do now in the modern game.

Although he doesn’t need Mustafi to publicly stroke his ego, it’s good that the centreback has given such a diplomatic answer since he was asked.