Shkodran Mustafi insists Arsenal futures of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil irrelevant if they deliver on pitch

JAMES OLLEY
Uncertain futures: Sanchez and Ozil have not signed new deals with Arsenal: Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Shkodran Mustafi has insisted the ongoing contract sagas involving Arsenal team-mates Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil are irrelevant as long as they deliver on the pitch.

The duo have entered the final six months of their existing agreements with speculation over their futures as they are now free to discuss terms with overseas clubs.

Paris Saint-Germain are interested in rivalling Manchester City for Sanchez’s signature while Barcelona and Manchester United are among the clubs closely monitoring Ozil.

The Gunners have so far shown no willingness to sell this month but the January transfer window offers them one last chance to receive a fee with both players more likely to depart for nothing in the summer than agree terms to stay at Emirates Stadium.

The current malaise threatens to overshadow Arsenal’s New Year programme, which begins with tonight’s Premier League visit of Chelsea, but Mustafi said: “Obviously, they are important – they are two big players. Alexis has been scoring a lot of goals, Mesut has been scoring and assisting a lot of goals so obviously they are very important because they are top class players.

“But the headlines, that is something really personal for them. They decide [their futures] with the manager so I don’t care too much about it. The only thing we care about is when they are on the pitch, they give everything. That makes it for me, easier, because when I see the people in front give everything, it makes me want to give everything as well.”

Ozil is a major doubt for Wednesday's game with a knee problem while Laurent Koscielny is expected to miss out due to an inflamed Achilles.

Arsenal are six points behind fourth-placed Liverpool – albeit with a game in hand – and seven adrift of Chelsea in third, leaving Mustafi to conclude there is no margin for error tonight.

“It is a must-win game for us,” he said. “It is a direct opponent. If you want to end up in the top four, you have to win those games. Obviously, we play at home so there’s no one in the dressing room thinking ‘let’s see what we are going to do’. Everyone knows ‘OK, we are at home against Chelsea, it is a derby, it is a big game’. Everyone wants to win.”

Ainsley Maitland-Niles will deputise for Sead Kolasinac, who is sidelined with an ankle problem, while Nacho Monreal (ankle), Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey (both hamstring) are ruled out.

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