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‘I became a target’ – Arsenal ace on heavy criticism and hits out at ex-Gunners star

Arsenal defender Shkodran Mustafi has conceded that it has been difficult to come under so much criticism, especially from former players.

The 27-year-old joined the Gunners in 2016 and after a making a positive start to life in north London, he has seen things go downhill in more recent times.

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It’s arguably fair to say that the German international has been error prone, and it has cost Arsenal at times which in turn has led to him dropping down the pecking order at the Emirates.

However, Mustafi is adamant that the criticism went too far and he was particularly disappointed and annoyed by comments made by former Arsenal midfielder Emmanuel Petit who labelled him the ‘king of blunders’ not so long ago.

“I am self-critical enough to see that I made those mistakes,” he told Der Spiegel. “And I can cope with harsh criticism. But the criticism escalated, became irrational. I became a target. And we reached a point where people held me responsible for defeats in games I didn’t even take part in.

“I was annoyed [over Petit]. But it’s a totally different thing if an ex-player, who knows how difficult it can be out there on the pitch, says something like that. I expect those players to be more sensitive and realise what they can initiate with such harsh criticism.

“Back in the day, it would have been in the papers for maybe a day and people would have forgotten about it. But it is written on the internet today and will haunt me for the rest of my career.

“Former players like Petit should really not need to make their mark by talking current players down.”

It’s difficult to disagree with Mustafi as the criticism went too far and became an almost running joke as opposed to being constructive and true to his actual performances on the pitch.

Nevertheless, he has been limited to just three appearances so far this season across all competitions for a reason, and with David Luiz joining Arsenal this past summer, it’s difficult to see the former Valencia centre-half secure a permanent spot back in the starting line-up under Unai Emery any time soon outside of the Europa League.

Ex Arsenal players have rarely been shy in criticising the current stars, with Mesut Ozil also publicly slammed on countless occasions and he is another who is currently struggling to find his place under Emery.

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