Arteta reluctant to let Mustafi leave Arsenal in transfer window

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Premier League - Arsenal v Norwich City

(Reuters) - Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said he does not want Shkodran Mustafi to leave during the January transfer window despite the German centre back being given few first-team opportunities this season.

Mustafi is into the final six months of his contract and can leave for free at the end of the season.

Having cleared William Saliba's loan move to Nice and confirmed that Greece international Sokratis Papastathopoulos is expected to depart, Arteta is reluctant to lose another defender.

"His future right now is here," Arteta told reporters ahead of Thursday's league match against Crystal Palace.

"We have Papa (Papastathopoulos) that probably is going to leave the club in this window, William that has already gone on loan, so we don't have that many right now.

"Gabriel (Magalhaes) has been out now for a period, David (Luiz) has been injured, so the situation is completely different to before."

Mustafi missed the start of the season with a long-term hamstring injury and while he has appeared in cup competitions he has featured only three times as a substitute in the Premier League.

Rob Holding and Pablo Mari are currently enjoying a solid partnership at the heart of defence but Arteta said Mustafi could still force his way back into the first team.

"He's been very close in a few games but now we've found as well a partnership that is giving us clean sheets and sometimes when you do that it's difficult to change, but he's still in contention," Arteta said.

(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)