Arsenal: Hurdle in Mustafi deal; Fonte interest cools; Roma star targeted
With one week remaining of the summer transfer window, Arsene Wenger’s need to bring in a defender has been well-documented, with injuries to Per Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista leaving the Gunners short-handed at the back, with a subsequent transfer saga regarding Valencia’s German international centre-half Shkodran Mustafi.
Arsenal have engaged in somewhat of a tug of war for the German regarding negotiating a transfer fee, with Mustafi’s bloated £43.1 million buy-out clause a rather hefty fee for the Gunners to shell out on the defender, and have been haggling with the La Liga club for some time to try to force through a deal.
The latest news to come out of the Mestalla however, reports Sky Sports News, is that Valencia boss Pako Ayesteran has informed the media that Mustafi will not be leaving the club this summer, which may be a real blow to Wenger and to Arsenal, who have invested much of the transfer window into pursuing a deal for the German.
The report also states that Sky sources had claimed that earlier in August Mustafi himself had agreed on a move to the Emirates, with a fee the only issue stalling the deal, whilst Arsene Wenger told the media that a deal “will be completed” before the deadline.
Mustafi’s inflated buy-out clause was the next set-back to come to light, before Ayesteran said following Valencia’s 4-2 loss to Las Palmas on Monday:
“Mustafi is not for sale and will not be leaving the club”.
The report from Sky Sports also includes a snippet from Spanish football expert Guillem Balague, who doesn’t doubt the credibility of the La Liga side’s stance, deducing that the only way Mustafi will depart the club is if the £43.1 million clause is met in full by the Gunners, a price which realistically is too high for a player of his standing.
With any potential deal for priority target Mustafi hanging in the balance, Arsenal have also calmed their interest in one of their fall-back options, Southampton skipper José Fonte, with the Gunners convinced he will be linking up with Manchester United before the deadline, according to the London Evening Standard.
Arsene Wenger has been scouring Europe for defensive targets since before Mertesacker and Gabriel sustained their injuries, but the Gunners boss has so far been left frustrated in his pursuit of a string of targets. If the Mustafi chase were to fall through, conceding defeat for Fonte would be a bitter double blow for Arsenal, with the 32-year-old European Championship winner with Portugal thought to be open to a move away from St. Mary’s.
Meanwhile, in an attempt to single out a more concrete target in defence, the Daily Mail claims that the Gunners sent a scout to Roma on Tuesday to keep tabs on Greek defender Kostas Manolas during their Champions League qualifier against FC Porto.
Reporrts from Metro are consistent with the latest developments surrounding the Greek centre-half, and with the proposed Mustafi deal coming no closer to completion, Arsene Wenger seems to have seen his hand forced into pursuing other alternatives, and the French coach may yet turn his attention towards the Greek, who is keen on a move to England and has been on the radar of the North London club for two years.
Wenger’s quest in the transfer market however isn’t set to end there, if reports from the Sun are to be believed, which quote that Wenger is in the market for an attacker to add to his attacking options at the Emirates, and it will be the door of Olympique Lyonnais where they are set to go knocking again, only this time it will be regarding Algerian winger Rachid Ghezzal.
Lyon have already tuned Arsenal away once this summer after rejecting a £29 million bid for Alexandre Lacazette, but now the report claims that Wenger has enquired about the availability of Ghezzal, who may be a potential back-up option to his attacking targets.
The 24-year-old Algerian has already rejected a move to Everton despite the two clubs agreeing a £9.5 million fee, the report claims, with the player said to be keen on European football this season. Ghezzal has one year left to run on his current deal at the Stade des Lumieres, with Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas also claiming he has turned away a bid in the region of £7 million from West Ham United already this month. Southampton may yet also make an approach for the Algerian, after he impressed current Saints boss Claude Puel during his tenure at Ligue 1 rivals OGC Nice.
Aulas however is keen to keep the player at the Ligue 1 club, and Lyon have already offered a contract extension to the youngster amidst interest from the Premier League, so Arsenal may need to act quickly if they are to complete a deal with the player awash with suitors. But with Ghezzal touted as a potential back-up option, by the time Wenger has him seriously in his line of sight it may already be too late unless the Gunners plan on making a bid.
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