Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta could keep Shkodran Mustafi

Shkodran Mustafi has had limited game time this season
Image: Shkodran Mustafi has had limited game time for Arsenal this season

Shkodran Mustafi has been offered an Arsenal lifeline as head coach Mikel Arteta admits he currently has a dearth of defensive options.

Germany international Mustafi appeared certain to leave the Emirates either last summer or during the January transfer window having been told by former boss Unai Emery he was surplus to requirements.

However, having started just one Premier League game this term, Mustafi could be handed further opportunities by Arteta due to a lengthening injury list.

With Calum Chambers sidelined for the remainder of the season and Konstantinos Mavropanos allowed to leave on loan to Nurnberg, Mustafi is one of four central defenders available to the Gunners - along with Sokratis Papastathopoulos, David Luiz and Rob Holding.

Meanwhile, injuries to full-backs Hector Bellerin, Kieran Tierney and Sead Kolasinac has left Arsenal even shorter at the back.

Calum Chambers will be out for up to nine months after rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee
Image: Calum Chambers is one of several absentees for Arsenal

"Can we afford [ to lose a centre-back]?" Arteta said The ideal scenario is no.

"If it happens, we will have to invent something. We are already playing with full-backs that are not full-backs.

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"They are wingers or central midfielders and could we afford to lose full-backs? No, but we don't have any full-backs."

Mustafi has struggled for form since moving to Arsenal from Valencia in 2016 and often comes in for criticism from the club's supporters.

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But Arteta, who has previous experience of working alongside the 27-year-old following Mustafi's short stint at Everton, is ready to offer him a clean slate.

"I know his history at this football club, but it is up to him," Arteta added. "I told everybody from day one: 'It is up to you guys. You show me how much you want it, you show me you are committed here, you are going to have a chance and it is going to come this week, next week or the following one'.

Mikel Arteta was unhappy with Arsenal's first-half performance
Image: Mikel Arteta may bring in defensive reinforcements during January

"They are all going to have the chance to play. After it is up to them to show it."

With his depleted numbers in defence, Arteta may yet dip into the January transfer market.

He ruled out a move for Manchester City's John Stones earlier in the week but the club has since been linked with Paris Saint-Germain full-back Layvin Kurzawa.

Manchester City's English defender John Stones (R) sits on the pitch injured before being substituted during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on December 7, 2019. 0:49
Arteta has played down reports he is interested in signing Manchester City defender John Stones and AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessié.

"We have a lot of issues at the back, the fact that Calum got the big injury is modifying our plans," Arteta said before speculation over a move for Kurzawa emerged.

"It is what we have, the situation, it can happen between December and January, it is very common. We have to live with it, this is what we have.

"We have to put 11 players out on the pitch on Saturday and I am sure we will.

They will try their best, and I will try to select the ones who in my opinion are the best fit for that game."

How to follow the January transfer window

Start your day with Good Morning Transfers at 9am as our team of reporters bring you the latest news and insight. Transfer Talk then follows at midday delivering analysis of the biggest stories. Then join us at 7pm for the definitive round-up of the day's news with The Transfer Show.

Meanwhile, the Transfer Talk podcast will also be back at the turn of the year with more expert analysis from here and across the continent.

And as well as tuning into Sky Sports News, don't miss a thing with our dedicated Transfer Centre blog.

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