Arsenal are bidding farewell to Shkodran Mustafi. After almost five years at the club, he has ended his contract six months early to join Schalke 04 on a permanent transfer.
There will be no tears shed.
Shkodran Mustafi has played well in patches for Arsenal throughout his 151 appearances. So too did Armand Traoré. It doesn’t mean anything.
Supporters have rarely been as frustrated, forlorn or infuriated by a single player. Sure, there has been an oversized handful of desperately poor central defenders, and players in general, to grace the club during the Premier League era, yet given his position in the team and the regularity of futility demonstrated by Mustafi, none stand out quite like him.
Mustafi never quite got enough credit for his aerial ability, and there are no qualms over him as a human being which is obviously no part of this, but when asked to remember a particular moment with the German, nobody will reminisce over a fond one. That tells its own story.
Shkodran Mustafi has had his contract terminated at Arsenal this January transfer window
"Mikel Arteta told the official Arsenal website: “Musti has been a key player for us for a long period of time. He played a very important part in my first season as manager and I’d like to thank him for his professionalism and for always being ready when called upon. Everybody at Arsenal wishes Musti well at Schalke.”"
The amount of squad trimming to take place this window, while expected, has still come largely as a surprise given the sheer volume of departures. Many have left in search of regular minutes, while others have been moved on as they are not at the level required or deemed surplus to requirements.
Mikel Arteta’s rebuild involves reducing a bloated squad, removing the deadwood, facilitating enhanced squad unity, building towards the new culture and, ultimately, raising the quality. Hence why Mustafi is on the way out.
There are still a lot of average players in the squad that will be moved on in due course, but none symbolise the shift in mentality more than moving on a player who has played his own part in lowering the standard at Arsenal.
It is not, of course, solely his fault. No one player is to blame. But this is a move away from mediocrity. A significant one.