Arsenal boss Arteta gives Mustafi clarification after Holding decision

Mikel Arteta maintains that Shkodran Mustafi's immediate future is at Arsenal despite his lack of game time.

Competition for places in the Gunners defence is fierce meaning the German has played just 43 minutes in the Premier League.

Summer signing Gabriel remains a regular when fit and Rob Holding has impressed when given the chance alongside Pablo Mari.

The former Bolton defender has just penned a new deal at the club while Mustafi's contract will expire in the summer.

Arteta though has allowed William Saliba to leave on loan and expects Sokratis Papastathopoulos to also depart.

It means his options are decreasing with David Luiz also out injured which means Mustafi could play his part.

“His future right now is here, trying to help," said Arteta.

"We have Papa that probably is going to leave the club this window, we have William that has already gone on loan. So we don’t have that many right now.

“Gabriel [Magalhaes] has been out for a period, David [Luiz] has been injured, so the situation is completely different to before.”

The German has played in the Europa League but remains some way down the pecking order.

Arteta was pressed on the reasons for Mustafi's lack of game time.

He replied by saying: “Well Musti came back from a really difficult injury when he got injured at the end of last season.

“After that period he was doing really well. I think his performances were increasing and getting better and better. 

“And when he came back that’s when we had seven or eight central defenders. So he had to get his performance level up.

“I think physically he still needed some time. Then he started to play some games in Europe which I think he did well as well. 

“And now it’s about, yeah, when do you make the next step to be the starter? And the reality is that we have to change that for different reasons, use different personnel. 

“He’s been very close in a few games. But now we’ve found as well a partnership (Rob Holding and Pablo Mari) that is giving us clean sheets, and sometimes when you do that it’s difficult to change. But he’s still in contention.”

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