Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has revealed that Shkodran Mustafi's injury is so bad that he may have to turn to the transfer market to find a replacement.
The centre-back was forced off the field late on in Arsenal's 2-0 victory over Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final with what appeared to be a hamstring injury, and further scans on the problem have revealed that it is worse than first thought.
Arsenal are already without Calum Chambers, while January arrival Pablo Marí was sidelined after picking up a 'significant' ankle injury, leaving David Luiz, Rob Holding and Sokratis Papastathopoulos as the only available options.
Speaking to the press (via the Evening Standard), Arteta confirmed that Mustafi will miss the start of next season, which could force the club to look for reinforcements this summer.
“It looks a really nasty injury again,” he said. “We have lost Calum Chambers the week after I arrived here, we lost Pablo as well for three months.
"Now we’ve lost Musti, so at the back we’re really touched and short. Musti has been playing really consistently and at a really good level with me.
“He pulled the tendon off the bone in his hamstring and that’s normally a lot of weeks. I already mentioned three central defenders that are not available and we haven’t had them available for a long time during the season. And we will have to address that."
Given Mustafi will eventually return to the lineup and Saint-Étienne youngster William Saliba will make his long-awaited arrival at the Emirates Stadium this summer, it seems likely that Arteta will look for a short-term fix, perhaps by bringing someone in on loan or for free.
One potential arrival could be French centre-back Malang Sarr, who is now available for free after allowing his contract with Nice to expire and is already thought to have had contact with the Gunners over a potential move.