Arsenal: The two blows of Shkodran Mustafi injury

Shkodran Mustafi will be out until October with a hamstring injury. The long-term absence is a major blow in two ways for Arsenal.

Injuries have not been kind to Arsenal of late. In their first 25 minutes of action following the season’s restart, they lost their starting centre-back and central midfielder. Three days later, their starting goalkeeper suffered a horrible-looking knee injury and has not played since, while their hottest young talent might not play again in 2020.

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And now there is another to add to the list: centre-back Shkodran Mustafi, who suffered what seems to be a nasty hamstring problem. In a club statement, it was confirmed that he has undergone a small procedure and he aims to return to training in October. The statement read:

“Further assessments during the week identified a significant injury to the right hamstring. As a result, Shkodran had a successful small procedure. He is now in the early stages of his recovery and rehabilitation, receiving specialist attention and support from our medical team. Aiming to return to full training in October.”

The injury is a massive blow to Mustafi, of course. He has turned into an important player along the backline for Arsenal, an everpresent figure under Mikel Arteta’s guidance — there is an argument to be made that he does not deserve to be, but that is currently where the centre-back options are at present.

There are also two major problems for the club to now deal with, both of which are significantly hampered by Mustafi’s extended spell on the sidelines.

The first is Saturday’s FA Cup final. Prior to suffering the injury, Mustafi started all but one game since the restart, playing 90 minutes in every single one bar the win over Norwich City in which he was substituted at half-time after suffering a knock. That he is so crucial to the system reflects poorly on the squad, but it also makes his absence on Saturday concerning.

Last weekend, Arteta even fielded Granit Xhaka as a makeshift centre-half alongside Rob Holding and David Luiz, neither of which looked comfortable when Arsenal moved to a back four with Xhaka pushing into central midfield. Mustafi’s absence, then, stretches the squad thin, to say the least.

There is, however, another angle to consider. Mustafi has a year remaining on his contract and was set to be made available for a potential sale in the summer transfer window. Arsenal have a surplus of centre-backs and are looking to reinvest in better options at the position. Mustafi has not earned a new contract and would have been sold. Now that he carries a long-term injury, this becomes significantly more difficult. Either he will be sold on the cheap or he will remain with the team for another season and leave on a free transfer next summer.

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Mustafi’s injury, then, could not have come at a worse time. He will now miss the biggest game of the season when Arsenal need him and has cratered his value in the transfer market. It is a double blow for the Gunners.