This is the closest indication yet that we’re heading towards the end of an ill-fated spell for the defender in north London sooner than anticipated, one no supporter will look back on with particularly fond memories.
The scale of the overhaul facing Arsenal is unlike any previously witnessed in north London, and won’t be seen to overnight. A fair chunk of the trimming will be done over the next six months, but the sooner it can begin, the better.
Mustafi came in for £35m in 2016, a panic buy at the tail-end of the summer that had signs of proving fruitful in the early months. There were some decent enough outings from the World Cup winner to hint at the money not being entirely to waste. How short-lived they were.
There are no hard feelings towards Mustafi, as there shouldn’t be. He’s made errors galore and cost Arsenal some comical goals, but it’s not his fault he’s been so hopeless. Sure, he hasn’t learned from his mistakes or his insistence on going to ground so early, but when you’re not good enough, you’re not good enough.
If it happens in January or in the summer, no tears will be shed. Mustafi would leave with everyone’s best wishes – Barcelona ain’t a bad gig for someone of his calibre – yet no argument can be made that Arsenal won’t be better for it.