Opinion: How Shkodran Mustafi has transformed into an old fashioned, rugged and excellent defender

The German defender has been something of a revelation so far this season, when it looked apparent that he was on his way out of the club just a few months ago.

Opinion:
How Shkodran Mustafi has transformed into an old fashioned, rugged and
excellent defender
Man of the moment (Image by Stuart MacFarlane/GettyImages)

Arriving from Valencia in the summer of 2016, for a reported £35million, it is safe to say that Shkodran Mustafi didn't quite live up to his price tag in his first full season at the club.

Following a turbulent final few weeks of the summer transfer window, which saw Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain leave for Liverpool, and Alexis Sanchez almost sold to Manchester City, the Gunners almost lost a defender amongst the late clear-out.

Inter Milan Bound?

It was reported that Mustafi had wanted to quit life in North London after just one season, with a move to Italian giants, Inter Milan very much on the cards.

Mustafi was dropped to the bench when Arsenal visited Liverpool at the end of August, with just a couple of days left in the window, leading to further speculation that the German was on his way out of the club.

Though, following the departure of Brazilian centre-back, Gabriel earlier on in the summer, Arsene Wenger wasn't too warm on the idea of losing another centre-back, consequently leading to any deal seeing Mustafi leave the Emirates being blocked.

Stellar performances

September was a defining month for Mustafi, as he returned to Arsenal following the International break that came after the transfer window closing.

The German featured in all three league games during that month against Bournemouth, Chelsea and West Brom, with the Chelsea game in particular coming to mind.

And perhaps it was that day at Stamford Bridge where Mustafi rekindled his relationship with the Arsenal faithful. There has never been any doubt over the former Everton defender's passion and commitment, but his quality has been there for all to see so far this campaign.

Relationship with the back three and that display against Tottenham

A statistic that sticks out like a sore thumb so far this season for Arsenal, is that in the seven games that Mustafi has featured in this campaign, the Gunners have only conceded the one goal.

Mustafi has formed a solid bond with Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal in the heart of the newly adopted back three for Arsenal. And following a muscular injury sustained whilst away with Germany at the start of October, the Gunners lost two of the four games that Mustafi was absent for.

Though, it was some return for the German, as he made his comeback from injury in the North London Derby earlier this month. There were plenty of stunning individual performances in that Arsenal side, as they brushed past Tottenham with a 2-0 victory, but Mustafi's sticks out.

Not only did was his header to open the scoring technically superb, but he was just everywhere. Lots had been made in the build-up to the game about how Arsenal would stop Harry Kane, well Mustafi answered those doubts. It was a truly stunning, individual display from an ever-improving defender.

The Gunners now have back-to-back home games in the Premier League against Huddersfield Town and Manchester United, in the space of three days. In particular, the game at home to United will be a real indicator as to whether or not Mustafi and Arsenal really have turned a corner.