Arsenal are set for a busy conclusion to the summer transfer window today but the excitement of Deadline Day will be lost on supporters this year, as the Gunners seem intent on gutting their squad rather than moving to seal major transfers.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is on the verge of a move to Liverpool and Arsenal are at risk of losing another top player to a Premier League rival, as Manchester City are confident of concluding a deal for two-time Copa America winner Alexis Sanchez.
On top of all this, the Gunners even tried to offload Shkodran Mustafi, a defender who arrived for £35m last summer, and the collapse of the World Cup winner’s reported move to Inter Milan leaves Arsenal in an extremely difficult position.
After the international break, Arsenal will find themselves with an expensive defender that they don’t want and one that doesn’t want to be in north London, which is hardly encouraging. Unfortunately, the Gunners can’t even afford to oust him from the first-team squad.
Playing with a three-man defensive line and having just Laurent Koscielny, Rob Holding, Per Mertesacker and Mustafi as recognised central defenders is certainly not ideal for Arsenal, especially as Holding has endured a shaky start to the season and Mertesacker is just one injury away from a premature retirement.
Mustafi being moved on to Inter Milan. Only real explanation is to think Wenger has shares in Arsenal Fan TV.
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) August 28, 2017
Mustafi, himself, will also be desperate for first-team football as he pushes to feature for Germany in next summer’s World Cup and his loss of morale could be extremely detrimental to Arsenal’s push for success, although admittedly that ‘push’ this season is likely to buckle almost immediately.
In truth, it all comes down to Mustafi’s mental approach. He’ll either be completely shot by the incidents over the course of the week and completely lose his ability, or he’ll be pushed forward to try and show the critics that they were wrong.
The issue with the latter is that Arsene Wenger doesn’t appear to be the sort of manager who can get the best out of unhappy players these days, as shown by the likes of Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alexis. That’s the biggest concern of all, as without motivation this Arsenal side will show no signs of stopping the rot.
It’s difficult to imagine yourself in Mustafi’s mindset for the forthcoming season now, as he knows he’s not wanted and that’s an extremely difficult position to find yourself in. How he responds is anyone’s guess but it’s an extremely concerning situation for the Gunners.
When Wenger sells Sanchez, Mustafi & Ox without bring any new signings in: pic.twitter.com/xgZaULBxEZ
— Footy Accumulators (@FootyAccums) August 29, 2017
In reality, though, the desire to offload Mustafi is certainly strange. The German started last season in very good form but saw his performances decline rapidly in the second-half of the campaign, where he also struggled with injury issues.
Something must have surely gone on behind the scenes for Arsenal to change their stance on the player so rapidly and it suggests that Mustafi, like the fans, are not happy with what’s going on at the club. That, potentially, could be a good thing as it means there’s a drive for change behind the scenes as well as publicly from the supporters.
The German international will be a very important player for Arsenal due to the lack of depth in central areas this season and there’s every chance he could turn things around over the course of the next year, although it remains to be seen whether he’ll be considered a starter after the international break.