Lee Dixon has urged Shkodran Mustafi to “pipe down” and focus on his football after ranting about the Arsenal defender’s outspoken show of confidence with his new haircut.
Having appeared in only three of the Gunners’ first 22 Premier League games this season, Mustafi has become a resurgent figure under Mikel Arteta, starting each of the last five in the top flight.
To match, the 27-year-old has impressed in his latest spell of games and he turned up to last weekend’s narrow win over Everton having dyed his hair silver.
Speaking to the Handbrake Off podcast, however, former Arsenal defender Dixon insisted that Mustafi needs to show more consistency before deciding to show his renewed confidence.
“[Mustafi] seriously needs to have a word with himself and pipe down a little bit,” Dixon said.
“Bang me 25 appearances out and 15 clean sheets then he can do what he likes with his hair and his sunglasses. Just sit back down for a bit and carry on churning the results out.”
Mustafi was heavily criticised earlier in the season and remains a divisive figure, but Dixon added that playing for Arsenal removes any right to avoid such backlash.
“I’m pleased that he’s bucked up and he’s playing well, but you can’t say to the crowd ‘When he gets it, don’t say anything, don’t feel nervous’. The crowd feel what they feel.
“You’re a professional footballer playing at the top of your game for Arsenal. If it really bothers you and you’re appealing to the crowd saying ‘Please let me play my game and see how good I am’, that’s fine.
“But you can’t be sheltered from that, that’s part of being a footballer. If you can’t handle it and it gets to you, no disrespect, go and play lower down the leagues.
“Go and play for another team where there’s only 5,000 people there and they’re not going to get on your back. This is Arsenal, we’re here to do one thing and that’s win trophies.”
Dixon also offered advice to Mustafi going forward, saying: “My advice to him would be put your hair back how it was, take your sunglasses off, go and hide behind your captain and churn out 25 performances.”
Arsenal crashed out of the Europa League on Thursday night with an away goals defeat to Olympiacos, having lost 2-1 on the night to the Greek side.
Pape Abou Cisse put the visitors in front from a corner but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang thought he had earned his side’s progression to the last 16 with an acrobatic finish in extra time.
Olympiacos won it though, Youssef El-Arabi netting in the final minute to sink Arteta’s side.