Football is a constant battle between balancing short-term needs against decisions which will help the club in the long term, but hindsight is starting to show that Mikel Arteta may have made an error with his squad choices this year.
William Saliba was expected to become a key member of the Arsenal defence going forward and there are plenty of fans who are excited to see what he can do.
Unfortunately the Frenchman has been left out of Arsenal’s Europa Squad where he could’ve gained some experience, while they also failed to find a loan move so his development has been stunted by playing U23 football.
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One of the defenders to play regularly in the Europa League is German Shkodran Mustafi, but that’s starting to look like a pretty woeful call from the manager.
Mustafi isn’t particularly good so it’s not like you can claim the defence would fall apart if he wasn’t in it, and he’s now reiterated his desire to leave on a free next summer so Arsenal won’t see any long term benefit from giving him the playing time either:
As reported weeks ago, Mustafi rejected a contract extension offer and wants to leave on a free next summer.
Reports in Germany today confirming the story.https://t.co/8UQaZyIyR8
— Chris Wheatley (@ChrisWheatley_) November 11, 2020
You can argue that this is good news for Saliba because it should open up a spot in the team eventually, but it also means that he’s now months behind where he could’ve been in his development if he was given the chance to play.
Arteta does have a lot of options at the back so it won’t be a surprise if Mustafi finds himself on the side-lines for the rest of the season, and it might be an idea to get Saliba registered for the Europa League if they make it through to the knock-out rounds.