Unai Emery has admitted Mohamed Elneny and Shkodran Mustafi would be best off leaving the club before the European transfer deadline.
It’s not exactly a secret that Arsenal are trying to move Elneny and Mustafi on this summer, despite the pair continuing to play their football in North London at this stage of the window.
Immediately after the English deadline, there were plenty of reports confirming the two players are still on the market. It’s one thing to have those rumours coming out behind the scenes though, and another for the head coach of the club to be explicitly revealing as much publicly.
Emery spoke to the media on Thursday ahead of Arsenal’s game against Liverpool, and he was pretty clear that he believes it’s in Elneny and Mustafi’s interests to leave.
“Elneny and Mustafi know their situation in the squad,” Emery said. “Really, I want players to be happy here. I want players to be protagonists here. Last year, for example, with Mustafi and with Mo, when they did not play, they were not happy.
“I spoke with them a lot of times last year and in this pre-season. I think it’s positive for them to leave and to sign for another team where they can be protagonists, they can be happy and they can continue in their careers as very big players. They are very big players.
“But here for one circumstance or another, they are going to have fewer chances to show their capacity or to be happy with us taking minutes in matches.”
Even during pre-season, with Laurent Koscielny out, David Luiz yet to sign, and Rob Holding and Konstantinos Mavropanos injured, Mustafi still found his game-time more and more limited.
In the final four games of the tour, the German was left out completely against Real Madrid, played a combined 24 minutes against Lyon and Barcelona, and only earned a full match in a lower-profile friendly against Angers.
Now, Luiz has signed and Holding is almost back, whilst Sokratis and Chambers proved a solid partnership in their opening competitive fixture against Newcastle. Emery is right, even if Mustafi wasn’t in such poor form he’d struggle to get matches.
The same is even more obviously true for Elneny. He now has Granit Xhaka, Matteo Guendouzi, Lucas Torreira, Joe Willock and Dani Ceballos ahead of him, in addition to other emerging youth prospects like Emile Smith Rowe or Robbie Burton needing chances. Moving on is the best thing for both.