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Shkodran Mustafi is back in Unai Emery’s plans the same as any other player in the squad, according to the head coach himself.
Arsenal tried to sell Mustafi over the summer, with Emery going public about that fact towards the end of the window. Despite pushing for the defender to leave and dropping him from the matchday squads, it didn’t make a difference.
Emery claims the German simply decided he was staying, at which point the head coach felt he should integrate the centre-back into the squad again.
“Mustafi decided to be here and when he did, for me, he is another player like the others in the team,” Emery said.
“Of course I respect his decision and, when he decided, I spoke with him and said ‘for me, you are in the squad and I am going to work with you as with the other players’.
“I don’t know all exactly what was in his decision (to stay) but, when we spoke and he decided to be here, it was a start with him as another player in the squad.”
The problem is that giving Mustafi games is going to take them away from someone who actually has a long-term future with the club.
The likes of Rob Holding, Calum Chambers and Konstantinos Mavropanos are already behind Sokratis Papastathopoulos and David Luiz, they don’t need their minutes limited even further by Mustafi.
The 27-year-old could have a part to play in the immediate future as a backup right-back to Ainsley Maitland-Niles. Hector Bellerin isn’t ready to return just yet, so Arsenal are very low on alternatives until he does.
Other than that, it’s hard to see how the former Valencia man fits in without causing problems for someone else.