Arsenal: Defender deal almost complete; Juventus midfielder linked, Mertesacker new captain
Arsenal get their Premier League campaign underway today at home to Liverpool, but their next summer singing could be just around the corner.
According to Sky Germany, German international defender Shkodran Mustafi will complete a £28 million switch from Valencia to the Emirates next week.
Personal terms have been agreed for some time, but the two clubs were locked in talks over the weekend to try and agree a fee.
Mustafi is expected to sign a five-year contract and is just seeking permission from Valencia to go a undergo his Arsenal medical.
This addition will be a welcome boost to Arsenal’s beleaguered defensive ranks, with Per Mertesacker and Gabriel both out with medium to long term injuries.
With Laurent Koscielny given an extended break following Euro 2016, Arsene Wenger has made it clear that the Gunners need more experience in the heart of their defence.
This is not just a short-term acquisition though; Koscielny and Mertesacker are both past the 30 mark and Arsenal need someone to make the centre back role their own for the next four to five years.
The Daily Telegraph also cite that Arsenal have made a £13 million bid for 22-year-old Juventus midfielder Mario Lemina.
The Gabonese central midfielder made just seven Serie A starts last season, and may have to move away from Turin to seek more regular football and accelerate his development.
It is highly doubtful that Arsenal will be the destination however; midfield is the one area where Arsenal look well stocked and primed for the new season.
The ageing trio of Mikel Arteta, Mathieu Flamini and Tomas Rosicky have effectively been replaced by Granit Xhaka, Mohamed Elneny and Alex Iwobi, while Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere are back after long term injuries.
With Aaron Ramsey and Francis Coquelin other options in the middle of the park, and Mesut Özil still to return, Arsenal do not need any more midfielders.
Finally, yesterday it was officially confirmed that Per Mertesacker is Arsenal’s new club captain following Arteta’s retirement.
With the German set to miss the first half of the season with a knee ligament problem, many took the opportunity to scoff at Wenger’s decision.
The role of captain holds an unusual amount of prestige in England; in Italian football for example, the player with the most appearances in the starting XI gets the armband for that given game.
Mertesacker was vice-captain under Arteta so is the logical choice, and it has long been his responsibility to collect dressing room fines.
Though not on the pitch, Mertesacker will continue to be a presence at the training ground and in the dressing room on match days.
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