Shkodran Mustafi is not thinking about his Arsenal future and has no problem with the issue moving down the club's priority list amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Germany international has just over a year remaining on his Gunners contract and has been back in favour since Mikel Arteta took over from Unai Emery.

At an uncertain time, Mustafi’s focus is on returning to the pitch before "questions" on his career are answered.

"We are in a situation where everyone is worried about the current situation and not so much about their personal future," Mustafi, 27, said to Sky Germany.

"First of all, I would like to play football again. That's how we all feel, we want to get back onto the pitch. There are so many question marks at the moment.

"Euro 2020 has been postponed. There are so many discussions whether we can even finish the season or not.

"So it is difficult to think about my personal future. None of us know what will happen next and when we can play again.

"So once we have overcome this difficult time and are back on the pitch, I can think about questions like that.

"At the moment I don't think about it. Also, the club has more important stuff to deal with right now than my future."

Mustafi had previously spoken positively about Arteta and praised the Arsenal boss' charisma as he began to get more regular appearances alongside David Luiz at the back.

"I can imagine continuing to play for him," he said of Arteta, who has recently recovered from COVID-19. 

"But we still don't know about the future and there are still many question marks."

Mikel Arteta was proud of his young Gunners after Arsenal secured an FA Cup fifth-round spot with a win over Bournemouth.

The visitors, 13-time winners of the competition, secured a 2-1 triumph at the Vitality Stadium with Bukayo Saka and Eddie Nketiah on target before substitute Sam Surridge grabbed a late consolation in an otherwise one-sided tie.

Arsenal's two goalscorers were the standout performers in a youthful line-up on a night when Arteta's defensive options were further depleted by a serious-looking injury for Shkodran Mustafi.

Arteta, while pleased with Monday's display, admitted the club would need to dip into the transfer market to bolster his squad, with a fifth-round trip to Portsmouth added to their schedule. 

"Very pleased. It's always tough to come here and win, we've done it with a young team as well," the Gunners boss told BBC Sport.

"I have a lot of faith in them. I think they are developing really well. They are willing and hungry and will only get better.

"We analyse opponents and try to generate situations that are favourable for our players.

"I was worried with their history in the last few weeks we would concede in the last few minutes.

"Our history with this cup is massive for the club. We need to take it step by step."

On the injury to Mustafi and his hopes to bring in reinforcements, Arteta added: "We will have to assess him but when Mustafi has to come off, normally it is not good.

"We are in the market. We are looking for some things with the resources we have and we will tell you when we have more news."

Opposite number Eddie Howe conceded his side lost the tactical battle and did not work hard enough without the ball to match their visitors.

"There were tactical problems for us," said the Cherries manager. "We changed system a couple of times but we weren't ourselves out of possession.

"We were second in the battles. Against quality teams that is what you have to master."

Shkodran Mustafi concedes he has struggled to handle the pressure of criticism that followed some high-profile mistakes for Arsenal.

Germany international defender Mustafi joined the Gunners from Valencia in 2016 but his form has dwindled over recent campaigns.

This term, the 27-year-old has predominantly been used in the Europa League and EFL Cup, although Calum Chambers being out for the season and Konstantinos Mavropanos joining Nurnberg on loan means he could be granted opportunities to add to a solitary Premier League start.

"I just put my head down when all the criticism came at me and worked hard. I just closed my ears and focused on the work, and I think the fans kind of appreciated that," Mustafi said in an interview with Arsenal's official website. "I just worked my socks off to come back again.

"When the fans are on your side, it gives you so much more confidence. As a defender, it's always difficult because you always have pressure, especially when you don't have the ball and the opponents are attacking. Every little mistake and every little error you make can lead to a goal.

"When you win all your tackles, when you win everything on the pitch but then make one mistake that you're punished for, it destroys everything that you did before. This is something that makes this position so hard.

"You blame yourself a lot. I am quite harsh on myself as well when I make mistakes. This is something you have to learn to deal with because the next day you're straight back in training and you're focusing on not making the same mistake again.

"It's something that affected me but I had to deal with it because I didn't want to make the same mistake again, I wanted to come to the training ground and show them that I am going to be there for them, I am going to be there for the team, I am going to be there for the supporters."

Mustafi felt such scrutiny became harshly magnified by social media.

"On there, it's difficult to handle when things are going well and then when things are not working out it's even tougher," he said.

"When things aren't going well, obviously you don't like the stuff you read. You don't agree with a lot of comments, so it makes it difficult."

Even though he believes criticism directed towards him became too strong at times, Mustafi does not want to be viewed as a scapegoat and feels he and the club have common challenges to address.

"I wouldn't say [I was] a target because it's very hard if you say that. I don't think the world turns around me or that I'm the main point of the world," he said.

"But it was difficult sometimes to understand because even in a few bad games where I wasn't involved, I was the one to blame."

He added: "Next for me and the club is to bounce back. At the moment things are not going the way we want them to go.

"We just need to stay united as a team, a club, with our fans. The people who want the best for Arsenal, we have to stay united together and bounce back together."

Mino Raiola holds all the cards when it comes to Manchester United's transfer plans.

United are interested in Salzburg sensation Erling Haaland, while Paul Pogba wants to reportedly leave Old Trafford.

With that in mind, the Red Devils may be forced to pick between the two.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND IN, POGBA OUT?

Manchester United are worried signing Salzburg striker Erling Haaland may force Paul Pogba out of the club, according to the Daily Star. 

United are interest in-demand sensation Haaland, who has also been linked to Juventus, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig

Haaland is represented by Mino Raiola, who is also the agent of United star Pogba – previously linked to former club Juve and LaLiga giants Real Madrid.

United fear Raiola could throw a spanner in the works as doubts remain over Pogba's future in Manchester.

 

ROUND-UP

- Premier League champions Manchester City have identified Villarreal's Pau Torres and Benfica centre-back Ruben Dias as possible defensive reinforcements in January, reports The Telegraph.

- Express Sport says Chelsea are unwilling to meet Dortmund's £100million (€117m) valuation of star Jadon Sancho, who has also been linked to United, Liverpool and Madrid. Chelsea are believed to be keeping tabs on Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha and Leipzig striker Timo Werner.

Arsenal pair Mesut Ozil and Shkodran Mustafi could leave Arsenal in January, reports Football London. Turkish giants Fenerbahce have emerged as a possible destination for Ozil.

Rangers have made contact with out-of-favour Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud over a possible move to Glasgow, according to L'Equipe.  Coming off contract at the end of the season, Giroud has also been linked to Inter.

Arsenal boss Unai Emery says Dani Ceballos has what looks like a "small" hamstring injury sustained in the Europa League draw with Vitoria SC.

The midfielder initially pulled up early in the second half of the 1-1 result in Guimaraes and was replaced by Matteo Guendouzi 54 minutes in.

The Real Madrid loanee appears likely to miss at least Saturday's Premier League trip to Leicester City, although Emery says he will have further tests on Thursday.

"We are going to wait for the analysis tomorrow but, at the beginning, I think it’s a small injury," Emery told a news conference.

Arsenal had looked set to claim a win that would have guaranteed their place in the next round when Shkodran Mustafi headed in Nicolas Pepe's free-kick in the 80th minute.

However, Bruno Duarte equalised in injury time and the Gunners came close to a defeat in the closing moments, with Mustafi deflecting a cross onto the post and Rochinha sending a volley narrowly wide.

Emery was happy with his players' efforts in torrential rain, even though Mustafi's header was Arsenal's only shot on target.

"The players worked and tried and we were very close to winning. In the last minute, they pushed a lot and they scored," he said to BT Sport.

"The objective is to be first in the group and we are. At the end of the match, we're thinking about Saturday and Leicester.

"We tried [to score] but also they are a very competitive team. We did better defensively. Offensively, this team are very organised and it's not easy to have a lot of chances. It's not good because we want to win but we are first, and this is our target."

Mustafi felt the Gunners could have defended better to prevent Vitoria equalising but the centre-back is content to have taken a point that moves them closer to reaching the next round.

"I would love to score in the 90th minute. When you score a goal and you still have to play against a team like today, they threw everything up front, sometimes it's not organised any more and they throw a lot of bodies into the box and they keep crossing," he said.

"I think we could have dealt with [the danger] a little bit earlier, instead of letting them cross again. In the end, you have to accept it and move forward and take the positive things.

"You have to say they are a good side, they're in the Europa League for a reason, they're quite compact. We played today with a back three and we needed some time to get the rhythm in. In the first half, we didn't do it as we wanted; the second half was better, better rhythm, better passing.

"We just need to stay calm. Everyone wants to show and give everything and sometimes, when you're over-motivated, it's difficult to deal with that. At the end of the day, we need to stay calm, play our football, believe in ourselves and then in the final third try and do it a little more intelligently, with a little more accuracy in our final pass."

An injury-time equaliser from Bruno Duarte sealed a 1-1 draw for Vitoria SC against Arsenal on Tuesday and stopped the Gunners from qualifying for the last 32 of the Europa League.

The visitors looked set to claim a win that would have guaranteed their place in the knockouts when Shkodran Mustafi headed in Nicolas Pepe's free-kick 10 minutes from time.

However, Duarte's acrobatic finish denied Unai Emery's side from a fourth win in as many European games this season and means they must wait a little longer to secure a place in the next round.

It was nearly much worse for Arsenal, who saw Mustafi deflect a cross onto the post before Rochinha rifled a half-volley wide in the closing moments of a rain-soaked encounter in Guimaraes.

 

Arsenal twice squandered the lead as they were dumped out of the EFL Cup by Liverpool on penalties after a remarkable 5-5 draw at Anfield.

Under-pressure Gunners boss Unai Emery needed a positive result to lift the gloom around Arsenal after they let slip a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Crystal Palace, but Jurgen Klopp's irrepressible young Reds prevailed.

Shkodran Mustafi's own goal and James Milner's penalty bookended a Lucas Torreira strike and Gabriel Martinelli's double in a first half characterised by defensive errors and gung-ho attacking.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles extended Arsenal's 3-2 interval lead before strikes from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Divock Origi levelled the contest, only for Joe Willock to put Arsenal back in front with a wonderful solo effort 20 minutes from time.

But Origi penetrated Arsenal's porous defence again to take the game to penalties, and Dani Ceballos had his spot-kick saved as Liverpool clinched a place in the quarter-finals at the expense of their beleaguered visitors.

Shkodran Mustafi has no interest in entering a "war" with Arsenal after not getting a move in the close season.

Mustafi, 27, was told he could leave the Emirates Stadium despite being contracted until 2021, but no move eventuated.

The defender made his first appearance of the season on Thursday, playing 90 minutes in a 3-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League.

Mustafi said he would avoid causing problems at Arsenal, but admitted he was open to a move.

"My father, who is my agent, spoke to the club. I am an Arsenal player and I've still got two years [left on my] contract," he told Sport Bild.

"I've never been someone who begins a war when something doesn't work out. I always said if it is possible, I am open to taking the next step. If not, I keep playing my football.

"The manager said he sees me the same way he sees every player in the team. That's why I played today and that's it. We're going to see what the future holds."

With his playing time seemingly set to be limited in 2019-20, Mustafi said he was open to a switch to his homeland, Germany.

"I have got a wife and two kids, so they have to agree as well," he said. "When a German club shows interest and it suits me, then I am open for it."

Unai Emery has suggested Shkodran Mustafi and Mohamed Elneny are free to leave Arsenal as they are not part of his plans.

Mustafi dramatically lost form last term and has not been included in Emery's squad so far in 2019-20, with Elneny also omitted against both Newcastle United and Burnley.

The European transfer window closes on September 2 and Emery suggested both players should secure themselves moves prior to the deadline.

"We have some players, they know their situation," Emery told reporters ahead of Saturday's trip to Liverpool, who also have maximum points from two league fixtures.

"For example, Elneny and Mustafi know their position in the squad and really I want the players to be happy here, I want the players to be protagonists here.

"Last year with Mustafi and Mo, when they didn't play they weren't happy. I spoke with them a lot of times last year and this pre-season and I think it is positive for them to leave and sign for another team where they can be protagonists and be happy and continue their careers."

Arsenal signing centre-back David Luiz from Chelsea and midfielder Dani Ceballos on loan from Real Madrid has pushed Mustafi and Elneny further down the pecking order at their respective positions.

"They are very big players," Emery added of the duo. "But for one circumstance or another, they are going to have less chances to show their capacity or to be happy with us and the minutes they play in matches.

"But they know the situation and really, really I am wishing the best for them and I think now the best for them is to be protagonists in another team and sign to get another challenge.

"We respect them, they are training with us, but they know their situation and only I am wishing the best for them."

Neymar continues to dominate the headlines and Barcelona look set to finally get serious in a move for the Paris Saint-Germain star.

The Brazil international, 27, has been linked with a move from PSG, but progress has seemingly been slow amid links to Barca and Real Madrid.

It appears Juventus are now ready to join the race, too, as Barcelona prepare to submit an offer.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA TO SUBMIT NEYMAR BID

Barcelona have decided to submit a formal offer to PSG for Neymar, according to RAC1.

The cover of Sport reads 'Offer Offical' as Barcelona continue their pursuit of the star they sold to PSG for €222million two years ago.

They say Barca are hoping to get a deal done and have an option to buy Neymar next season.

 

ROUND-UP

- There may yet be a bit to play out in the Neymar saga. AS report Juventus have opened talks with PSG and are keen to sign the Brazil star, willing to offer Neymar the €37m per year net he currently makes at PSG.

- Paulo Dybala could be part of a Juventus move for Neymar. Dybala was reportedly close to a Premier League switch earlier this month and is valued at €80m and a target for PSG, according to Sport and the Daily Mail, giving the Ligue 1 champions an ideal replacement for Neymar.

- Christian Eriksen's Tottenham future remains unclear. However, ESPN FC report the Denmark international is only interested in moving to Barcelona, Real Madrid or Juventus if he leaves Tottenham.

- As Barcelona try to find a deal for Neymar, Nelson Semedo has been one of the players mentioned as part of a potential package. However, Marca report the defender does not want to go to PSG and Barca are aware.

- Roma are still trying to strengthen their defence and Arsenal's Shkodran Mustafi has emerged as a target, according to TuttoMercatoWeb. The Serie A giants would consider an initial loan move for the defender.

- Franck Ribery could be close to making a decision on his future. According to Fabrizio Romano, the former Bayern Munich star is in advanced talks with Fiorentina.

Unai Emery has admitted to discussing an Arsenal exit with much-maligned defender Shkodran Mustafi.

The Gunners have developed new depth at centre-back following the deadline day signing of David Luiz from Chelsea and Calum Chambers' return from a loan spell at Fulham.

Mustafi, 27, ranks behind that pair and Sokratis Papastathopoulos in the pecking order and could still be allowed to find a new club before the transfer window closes across Europe on September 2.

Signed in 2016, the Germany international has failed to impress in the Premier League and was booed by his own fans during a friendly loss to Lyon at Emirates Stadium.

"I spoke with him when we finished last season, I spoke with him when we started pre-season and I spoke with him also two weeks ago saying maybe there was the possibility he can leave," Emery said of the former Sampdoria and Valencia player.

"But I don't have doubts if he needs to play because he is a good player.

"We decided to be more competitive in each position, at centre-back with David Luiz, with another player in the middle with [Dani] Ceballos, with Kieran Tierney, with [Nicolas] Pepe.

"I think being more competitive [means] we can respond better in the season.

"Some players, maybe they can play less with that situation and can leave.

"But it's one decision taken with the player, with the club, with the team. At the moment [Mustafi] is here and really, if we need, he plays with us. I have confidence he will do well."

Mustafi's likely replacement, David Luiz, has not been without his own detractors.

The 32-year-old courted criticism for erratic performances throughout two stints at Stamford Bridge, but Emery is backing the Brazilian to be a success in north London.

"Last year he won the Europa League and he played every match in the Premier League," the Arsenal boss said

"It's very difficult to find something negative from him. There are a lot more positive things to help us."

Unai Emery expects more players to follow Laurent Koscielny and Alex Iwobi out of the Arsenal exit before the European transfer windows close.

Arsenal had a busy close season before the English transfer window finished on Thursday, strengthening with the arrivals of Nicolas Pepe, Dani Ceballos, Gabriel Martinelli, Kieran Tierney and David Luiz, the latter two signing on deadline day.

Many more players left the club, however, with Petr Cech retiring, Danny Welbeck, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Aaron Ramsey departing on free transfers, and Carl Jenkinson, Koscielny and Iwobi sealing moves.

Former captain Koscielny left on sour terms after refusing to go on their pre-season tour, while Iwobi went to Everton in a deal reportedly worth up to £40million.

Mohamed Elneny and the much-maligned Shkodran Mustafi have reportedly been made available for transfers, and while Emery did not mention any names, he does expect more players to leave for overseas clubs.

"We were changing players at the last moment," he said of Arsenal's deadline day deals.

"We had with Laurent Koscielny the first captain, but just five days ago he left. Other players came in, we finished our market, but it is at the moment open in other countries.

"In the next 20-25 days some players will leave. It's the reason, I want to close [complete] our squad, clearly."

The signing of David Luiz from Premier League rivals Chelsea came as a surprise to many, but after the experienced Koscielny departed, Emery is adamant the Brazilian is an important addition.

"We worked together for two months at PSG," Emery said of David Luiz. "After three matches [at PSG], the club and he decided to sign for Chelsea.

"He's a big opportunity for us, he decided to join Arsenal. He wants to do something important with us.

"He has experience, quality in build-up, he is a good defender and he is coming here to help us with his capacity and quality."

Arsenal's £72million signing of in-demand forward Nicolas Pepe not only smashed the club's transfer record but also represented a statement of intent.

The Gunners have not won the Premier League since 2004 but will be hopeful the arrival of Pepe can help them bridge the gap between themselves and the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool.

The 24-year-old Ivory Coast international dazzled in Ligue 1 last term, scoring 22 goals in 38 appearances and adding a host of assists as Lille finished second.

Pepe's capture should ensure Arsenal, who can already call upon the quality of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, are a constant attacking threat.

Aubameyang and Lacazette are indeed two of the names to feature on Arsenal's list of big-money signings and here we take a look at how those high-profile arrivals have fared.

 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (from Borussia Dortmund in 2018 for £56m)

The Gabon international has proved an astute signing, even at a significant cost, with 32 goals in his first 49 Premier League matches. The 30-year-old's speed causes major concern for opponents and he also scored eight goals in the Europa League last term as Arsenal reached the final.

Alexandre Lacazette (from Lyon in 2017 for £46.5m)

Lacazette's goalscoring ratio is far from bad – he has 27 in 69 Premier League appearances – but Arsenal may have hoped for more from a forward who netted 20 or more Ligue 1 goals in three successive seasons for Lyon. When paired together by Unai Emery, the Frenchman has worked very well with Aubameyang, with the addition of Pepe into the mix sure to bring another dimension to Arsenal's play.

Mesut Ozil (from Real Madrid in 2013 for £42.4m)

After joining Arsenal to great fanfare, Ozil has often failed to live up to his hefty price tag and has not re-captured the sort of form he displayed on a regular basis with Real Madrid. He has still been effective at times but has struggled to consistently stay fit, making more than 25 Premier League appearances in just two of his five full seasons at the club. 

Shkodran Mustafi (from Valencia in 2016 for a fee in excess of £35m)

Arsenal made a significant investment to lure Mustafi away from Spain, but he has proven a disappointment in London. The 27-year-old has declined significantly in recent years and his error-prone nature does not fill supporters with confidence. According to reports, Arsenal are in talks with several clubs regarding Mustafi's future. A move away would not exactly come as a surprise.

Granit Xhaka (from Borussia Monchengladbach in 2016 for £35m)

Still only 26, Xhaka's best football should be in front of him. The tough-tackling midfielder's arrival was meant to herald an improvement in Arsenal's defence but the club have still leaked goals on a regular basis. The jury is still out on this one. 

Alexis Sanchez (from Barcelona in 2014 for a reported fee in the region of £35m)

Sanchez was a hit with the Arsenal faithful, scoring 60 goals in 122 Premier League matches. The club's supporters were disappointed to see him opt for a switch to Manchester United in January 2018 in a swap deal that brought Henrikh Mkhitaryan to Emirates Stadium. Sanchez's move north has been an unmitigated disaster so far, the striker on an eye-watering pay packet at Old Trafford but responsible for just three Premier League goals.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.