Shkodran Mustafi has admitted criticism from Arsenal fans has had a negative effect on his performances during his spell at the club, making playing 'difficult'.
The German defender has been with the Gunners since 2016 when he joined from Valencia for £35m, but has seen his credibility with the supporters drop steadily with some deteriorating displays and high-profile errors in north London.
"Once you've read criticism - good or bad - it's going to stay there."— Arsenal (@Arsenal) January 16, 2020
Sincere. Honest. Direct.@MustafiOfficial opens up about criticism, tough times and his relationship with our fans
Last season in particular he became a scapegoat for the majority of Arsenal's failings, eventually being dropped by Unai Emery, something Mikel Arteta has followed through with since taking the reins back in December. This season, Mustafi has made just three Premier League outings with the majority of his minutes coming in cup competitions.
Speaking to the club's official website, the centre back confessed that what he has read online from Gunners supporters has affected him personally.
"[..] when things aren't going well, obviously you don't like the stuff you read. You don't agree with a lot of comments, so it makes it difficult," he said.
"I managed to try to block it out a little bit. I was not that active on social media and wasn't reading comments, I wasn't too concerned about social media, I just wanted to go back on the pitch and give everything because I knew that in this moment I was not playing the football I know I could play."
While defensively Arsenal have been anything but assured in recent seasons, Mustafi revealed that he felt he was to blame for errors he didn't commit, often being targeted by the supporters regardless of his contribution.
"I feel like a target at times? I wouldn't say a target because it's very hard if you say that. I don't think the world turns around me or that I'm the main point of the world," he added.
"But it was difficult sometimes to understand because even in a few bad games where I wasn't involved, I was the one to blame. It gets a little bit frustrating to read those comments but at the end of the day, you have to be professional and I tried to be as professional as I can.