Sead Kolasinac and Shkodran Mustafi were spare parts at Arsenal, a pair who, like other senior players in the squad, were candidates to be shifted on in January.
The two players would find themselves amongst a host of mid-season departures in north London, alongside the likes of Mesut Ozil and Sokratis Papastathopoulos.
A return to Germany for the pair could have perhaps been seen as a fresh opportunity, a chance to get back to speed after a difficult time in the Premier League but the result couldn’t have been farther from that.
Schalke’s season has been nothing short of abysmal and the Bundesliga side found themselves trending on Sunday for all the wrong reasons as Christian Gross became the fourth manager to be sacked by the club this season, if you count caretaker boss Huub Stevens.
As the plethora of football fans on Twitter have pointed out, the club have had more coaches this season than wins in the league but that has been the case for a while as the club’s sole victory came in January against Hoffenheim.
That 4-0 triumph came on Kolasinac’s debut but it was not a sign of improvement, with just two points coming from the eight matches since.
The situation is even more damning for Mustafi. Including his debut in the 3-0 defeat to RB Leipzig, Schalke have conceded eight goals in the three matches with the German defender in the side – also conceding four against Borussia Dortmund, where Mustafi missed out with muscular problems.
Both players have quickly become regular starters with Schalke but there is little they can do to save the sinking ship. While Kolasinac was on the scoresheet on Saturday, the 5-1 defeat to Stuttgart was the final straw and another backroom shake-up has followed.
There have been reports that Mustafi and Kolasinac, along with Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, led a dressing room revolt that ultimately led to Gross’ dismissal but Schalke have denied that is the case.
Still, Gross’ comments to Swiss outlet Blick, when asked what he would do differently if he had the chance to start again at the club, were particularly damning for the pair: “I wouldn’t bring the same players in during the winter.”
Both Mustafi and Kolasinac are only contracted with Schalke until the summer and, with the club £200m in the black, won’t be sticking around for next season’s campaign in the second-tier.
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It does bring around another set of crossroads for both players though, having been unceremoniously ousted from Arsenal in January.
Mustafi, who turns 29 next month, has since his stock decrease rapidly since he swapped Valencia for Arsenal in a £35m transfer but there was reported interest in January from clubs in Italy, where he has previously represented Sampdoria, and a return to Serie A seems likely.
For Kolasinac, he’ll return to Arsenal with 12 months remaining on his contract at the Emirates Stadium and no clear spot for him in Arteta’s squad.