Arsenal: Mustafi deal drags on; experienced French and Portuguese alternatives lined-up
Arsenal’s seemingly done deal for Valencia defender Shkodran Mustafi appears more and more dead in the water as time drags on with a fee still to be agreed. The Daily Mirror’s John Cross reports that Arsenal are prepared to splash out £20 million for the German international whilst the La Liga club are demanding a figure closer to £30 million, to which the Gunners are unwilling to comply.
Talks are still ongoing between the clubs, though the deal is encountering increasing complications thanks to agents’ negotiations, as well as the fact that Valencia are reluctant to part with the defender whilst the future of their other centre-back, Aymen Abdennour- a transfer target for Everton- remains uncertain. The Daily Mail is reckoning is that despite the complexities of the deal, the German will remain Wenger and Arsenal’s priority target to patch up the Gunners’ injury hit defence.
All the while, Arsene Wenger’s desperation to sign a centre-back intensifies, and the Arsenal boss appears to be setting his sights on further alternatives besides Fenerbahce’s Danish defender Simon Kjaer and Turkish centre-half Omer Toprak.
Arsenal’s first choice centre-halves Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel all sat out the 4-3 home defeat to Liverpool on the opening weekend, and whilst Arsenal continue to haggle over Valencia’s asking price for Mustafi, Wenger has lined-up Barcelona defender Jeremy Mathieu as an alternative, despite the defender currently being sidelined with injury also, according to the Daily Mirror.
Mathieu was substituted during Barcelona’s weekend victory over Sevilla with a hamstring problem, and the reckoning in the Mirror’s report is that the Catalan club are prepared to part with the 32-year-old for a fee in the region of £10.4million, which would prove a real bargain for Arsenal compared to Valencia’s asking price for Mustafi.
Wenger is clearly targeting an experinced centre-half to add to his depleted rear-guard, and according to the Telegraph, he could be prepared to launch Arsenal into a race with Manchester United to sign Southampton’s 32-year-old skipper José Fonte to remedy the crisis.
The Mirror is consistent in highlighting United’s interest, stating that José Mourinho is seeking to coax his compatriot to Old Trafford with a cash plus player deal involving United flop Marcos Rojo, though the injury-stricken Gunners may well turn to the European Championship winner themselves to ease their defensive woes. They will face stiff competition however from the Red Devils and stern resistance from Southampton, who are determined to keep Fonté from the clutches of the two clubs.
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