By Matt Farr
Arsenal defender Shkodran Mustafi has admitted he is grateful for the influence Per Mertesacker has had on his career.
Mustafi joined the Gunners in a £35 million last summer, and has wasted no time in settling into his new north London environment.
He has now established himself as a key part of Arsene Wenger’s first-team squad, and he has fellow German international Mertesacker to thank.
The 24-year-old has appeared 21 times in all competitions for Arsenal this season, and has formed a formidable centre-back partnership with Laurent Koscielny.
Arsenal struggled for defensive security for a number of years, but the addition of Mustafi to the Arsenal ranks has transformed the Gunners into a more stable, and consistent defensive unit.
He told Arsenal Player: “Per helped me a lot. When I had just arrived, having a person at the club with so much experience and with the personality he has helped me a lot.
“He helps me on the pitch because when he sees things, he corrected me a few times. He’s not just the type of player who says, ‘You didn’t do that well enough’ or ‘You have to do it this way’, he tells you why.
“In the short time that I worked with him in the national team, I learned a lot from him.”
The pair have built a strong relationship over the years, having spent time together within the German national team setup, before Mustafi arrived at the Emirates.
The duo were part of the Germany squad that lifted the 2014 World Cup, which was Mertesacker’s final involvement before retiring from the international stage.
Mertesacker has played much more of a behind the scenes role in Mustafi’s development this season, and is yet to feature himself due to a lengthy injury spell.
He is out of contract in the summer, and there is little indication yet that Arsene Wenger will be looking to extend his deal.