Arsenal have opened talks with Valencia over a move for Germany international defender Shkodran Mustafi in a bid to ease their concerns in defence.
With Per Mertesacker unlikely to play again this year, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has admitted that he will look to sign another defender despite already acquiring the services of 20-year-old Rob Holding from Bolton Wanderers.
The Frenchman’s quotes triggered reports in Spain that Valencia were willing to sell Mustafi if Arsenal met their £20.9m valuation of the 24-year-old centre-back, and now Sky Deutschland have reported that talks are underway between the two clubs.
It’s added that Arsenal are yet to make an official offer for Mustafi, although he has only just returned from holiday following his Euro 2016 commitments with Germany and Arsenal could choose to take a relaxed approach to negotiations given that Holding enjoyed a solid debut in the 2-1 win over the MLS All-Stars and Wenger also has Calum Chambers and Gabriel Paulista available – the latter will rejoin the squad once they return to the United Kingdom.
Sky Deutschland report that Mustafi will cost more than the fee touted in Spain though. The former Hamburg and Everton defender – who joined Valencia from Sampdoria two years ago – has a £42.1m release clause in his contract. Valencia are believed to be willing to let him leave for much less than that figure though, with a £25.3m initial fee plus £8.4m in add-ons believed to be the opening benchmark.
Mustafi trained with Valencia for the first time this season on Thursday after being given an extended break due to Germany’s progression to the semi-finals of Euro 2016. With Mertesacker returning to Germany during the week to undergo surgery, Mustafi would represent an ample replacement alongside Laurent Koscielny, who himself is yet to join the Arsenal squad as he enjoys a post-season break.
Arsenal’s pursuit of a new striker continues to rumble on with the club expected to make a second offer for Lyon forward Alexandre Lacazette. According to Squawka, Arsenal are prepared to make a return bid for the France international, but will not go any higher than £33.7m.
Lyon have already rejected a £32m offer from West Ham earlier in the summer, and went public on Tuesday to reveal they had rejected Arsenal’s £29.5m bid that left the Gunners exposed to embarrassment and ridicule at attempting to try and snatch an unrealistic transfer.
Having already seen moves for Jamie Vardy and Gonzalo Higuain rejected – the former by the player himself while Napoli refused to budge from their £75m valuation of the latter – Arsenal could yet turn their attentions away from Lacazette and target another striker in Juventus’s Mario Mandzukic.
Arsenal have already had a £29m offer for Lacazette rejected (Getty)
The arrival of Higuain in Turin has put Mandzukic’s position in doubt, according to Italian news outlet Gazzetta World, and The Sun claims that Arsenal have been alerted to his availability. While Juventus would rather sell fellow striker Simeone Zaza, it’s claimed that they are willing to let Mandzukic leave for the right price.
One problem for the north London side is that Juventus have proven their worth in the transfer market, as they prepare to receive a world record transfer fee for the sale of Paul Pogba to Manchester United.