The European transfer deadline has passed, and Shkodran Mustafi is still somehow an Arsenal player.
Since before the summer even began, Mustafi was already reportedly on Arsenal’s transfer list. The rumours continued throughout the summer, and in early August the English media were still insisting that Mustafi and Elneny were on the market.
The English transfer deadline passed with no further progress, and Unai Emery went public with the situation, saying it was best for both players to leave. Elneny joined Besiktas on loan, whilst Mustafi didn’t even appear to come close to a transfer.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. David Ornstein stated last month that there were no firm offers for Mustafi and he wanted to stay with the club. If the player isn’t in good form and doesn’t push for a move, it’s always going to be difficult to sell.
The question is, what do Mustafi and Arsenal do now?
The centre-back hasn’t made any of the last four squads for the Premier League, and on merit, that shouldn’t change. With Arsenal playing four-at-the-back and Rob Holding returning from injury, there’s arguably no room for Mustafi at centre-back in the club’s second-choice team, let alone the first.
In the immediate short-term, Mustafi might get into Arsenal’s League Cup and Europa League group stage side. With Hector Bellerin still not quite back, Calum Chambers or Mustafi might be needed at right-back, with the other one playing in the middle.
That gives Mustafi one month to prove Emery has made a mistake and he should be involved. After that, with Hector Bellerin and Rob Holding back, and even Konstantinos Mavropanos trying to stake a claim for game time, it’s hard to see another opportunity – other than through further injuries or a formation change.
The German is just going to have to get his head down and keep training, using whatever limited minutes he gets to make an impression, and hope that’s enough to earn a good move in January.