Shkodran Mustafi says the criticism of his performances from Arsenal fans has become “escalated and irrational” as the German defender hit out at social media comments directed towards him.
The much-maligned 27-year-old has seen his stock among the Arsenal defensive ranks fall in recent months, with Unai Emery preferring to use the likes of Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Rob Holding, Calum Chambers and summer signing David Luiz at the back.
There were even suggestions that the German was told to leave the club by Emery in the summer.
However, the former Valencia man opted to stay at the Emirates Stadium and fight for his place.
Mustafi is yet to play a single second in the Premier League this season but did play the full 90 minutes in the Europa League wins over Eintracht Frankfurt and Standard Liege.
He also featured for the entirety of the 5-0 Carabao Cup victory over Nottingham Forest.
Speaking to German media outlet Der Spiegel, the 2014 World Cup winner – who hasn’t featured for Germany since 2017 – addressed the two performances he was most criticised for last season, the 5-1 loss to Liverpool in December and 3-2 defeat to Crystal Palace in April.
“I had missed three weeks injured and then went into the [Liverpool] game without training with the team because the coach needed me,” he said.
“At half-time, it was 4-1, I looked a few times not good and have injured myself again.
“Afterwards, I got a lot of negative comments from Arsenal fans on Instagram and Twitter. And articles were written in which I was harshly criticised.
On the Palace game, in which his errors helped lead to goals for Christian Benteke and Wilfried Zaha, he added: “I’m self-critical enough to realise that I made those mistakes.
“I can also deal with tough criticism. But the criticism has become escalated and irrational. I have become a target.
“At some point, people even blamed me for a defeat I had not played at all.”