This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
Shkodran Mustafi’s Arsenal career has been plagued with horrific mistakes and embarrassing gaffes, and he has become the source of several memes on social media for his apparent ineptitude in defending. But, this summer has felt oddly different. It no longer feels like a running joke. It feels like the bitter end of a long drawn-out story.
The German World Cup winner has been the subject of heavy criticism from fans and pundits alike, and most of it has been fairly understandable. The centre-back’s highlight reel of bloopers are worthy of making its way onto ‘You’ve Been Framed’, and it’s a rather fine effort on the part of the 27-year-old that he continues to think of new ways of shooting himself in the foot.
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But, his mistake against Crystal Palace back in April, when he allowed Wilfried Zaha to ghost through to fire home, felt like an oddly cathartic moment. No longer was the defender’s error simply one for people to throw their hands in the air and jokingly declare ‘oh there goes Shkodran again’. It felt like things had reached the point of no return. He had cost the club a chance at Champions League football.
And if Mustafi had harboured hopes that a summer away from the limelight would help see Gunners fans forget all about it and start with a fresh slate, then he was sadly mistaken.
The German was roundly booed by Arsenal’s contingent of American fans on the pre-season tour of the USA, whilst he received a similarly cold welcome when the north London side entertained Lyon at the Emirates on Sunday. The announcer’s call of Mustafi’s introduction in the second-half was met with widespread groans and boos, and whether you like him or not, it was certainly sad to see.
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Indeed, reports earlier this summer had suggested that Unai Emery had decided enough was enough with his bungling defender, but the 27-year-old still remains on the Gunners’ books with less than a month to go in the transfer window, and due to the fact that no new defender has come in for this campaign, the German may well have fancied his chances of having one last shot.
But after seeing and hearing the north London side’s fan base turn so unequivocally against one of their own this pre-season, we are surely entering the final chapter of Mustafi’s Arsenal career once and for all, the one titled ‘the end’.