Off in January? Arsenal flop reveals summer exit close

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Arsenal defender Shkodran Mustafi has revealed his preferred destination if he is to leave the club, while blasting former Gunners midfielder Emmanuel Petit.

The German centre-back has not enjoyed the best of times at the Emirates Stadium since moving from Valencia in 2016, and was linked with a move away this summer before interested parties turned their backs on him.

However, in an interview with Der Spiegel, Mustafi has claimed that he has been unfairly criticised – both by fans and former players.

“In the first two years after my move to Arsenal in 2016, things went very well for me,” he said. “I saw myself as a performer.

“But shortly after Christmas 2018, there was a hiccup [injury]. I’ve made a few mistakes, and they’ve created a mess that I’ve never experienced before.

“I’m self-critical enough to realise that I made those mistakes. I can also deal with tough criticism.

“But the criticism has become escalated and irrational. I have become a target. At one point, people even blamed me for a defeat in a game I had not played in.”

One critic has been former Arsenal man Petit, who described him as the ‘King of Blunders’ to RMC Sport earlier this year.

“That annoyed me a lot,” confirmed Mustafi. “It’s the one thing when fans or media criticize you, but it’s a different story when an ex-player who knows how hard it is on the field sometimes says so.

“I expect such players to be more sensitive and realise what this sharply worded critique can trigger.

“In the past, that might have been in the paper one day, and then people would have forgotten it. Today it’s on the internet and will haunt me for the rest of my career.

“Former players like Petit should not have to make a name for themselves by making condescending comments about current players.”

Still, Mustafi’s comments are unlikely to change the negative perception of his time at Arsenal – which could have come to an end this summer.

“In the summer there were considerations to change club. But no option would have satisfied all sides,” he added.

“Also Arsenal has made a departure possible, of course, as long as some conditions are met.

“And I knew: the next change is extremely important to make another positive chapter in my career.

“If I change somewhere where it does not really fit, the situation could not improve much. So I stayed. I am open [to moving] in the future – also for the Bundesliga.”

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