Pablo Mari had joined the club on loan, a deal which Arsenal would likely make permanent in the summer.
He would become Arsenal’s 6th central defender in the squad that already contained David Luiz, Sokratis, Rob Holding, Calum Chambers and Shkodran Mustafi. With William Saliba set to arrive in the summer.
That would make it 7 central defenders at the club, with Arsenal heavily linked with an 8th in Dayot Upamecano.
Chambers has a long term injury, with is being unclear when exactly next season he would be back. Mustafi would surely leave – with a year left on his contract and clearly out of favour. That would leave Arsenal needing to shift one more defender – either Luiz or Sokratis – to bring the number down to 5 (excluding Calum Chambers).
David Luiz or Sokratis
But then the recent form of Mustafi has thrown a spanner in the works.
Mustafi has started 8 of Mikel Arteta’s first 11 games – the 3 he missed due to injury. He is clearly in favour for the new manager.
Not only is Mustafi back in favour but he is also playing well. Well enough to give Arteta and the team a bit of a headache for next season.
A decision needs to now be made on Mustafi’s future. Does his recent good form and Arteta liking him result in him remaining beyond this season?
If Arteta does want to keep him, a new contract would have to be offered as his current one runs out in 2021.
Arsenal then need to decide what they do…
Would Mustafi staying meaning no new first choice central defender?
Or would it Mari no longer join us on a free?
And what for Sokratis who has now fallen behind Mustafi?
Then you have Rob Holding who has struggled to return following his injury…
Plenty to think about as the season comes to a close.