Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has admitted that the club requires an experienced figure following his confirmation that Per Mertesacker is ruled out for “months” after suffering a knee injury whilst Arsenal have reportedly identified two potential targets who both fit that bill.
Speaking ahead of the MLS All-Stars pre-season friendly fixture in San Jose, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger explained (via the Daily Mirror) that he was unsure for how long Per Mertesacker would be side-lined:
“I know you will ask me for how long he will be out. I don’t know that, it’s [some] months, but I don’t know [exactly] how long he will be out for.”
With Laurent Koscielny having an extended break due to his Euro 2016 commitments and the illness to Gabriel Paulista, Calum Chambers and new addition Rob Holding are the only options presently available to Wenger at the centre of the defence.
The Frenchman expressed his desire to bring in someone with plenty of experience in that position:
“We have to look for an option to get a bit more experience. We will see some of our young centre backs on Thursday as well.”
“With Per being out, we are a bit short on the experience front and we are looking to bring somebody in.”
The Gunners are believed to have expanded their search to Valencia defender Shkodran Mustafi and Hoffenheim defender Fabian Schar, according to the Daily Mirror.
Emanuele Giulianelli, who has a somewhat mixed receptions amongst the Arsenal faithful, has suggested that Arsenal have held talks with the Mustafi’s agent on twitter (via the Daily Star):
“Last week contracts between Arsenal and the agent of Shkodran Mustafi, German defender.”
Today, local Spanish paper El Desmarque have claimed that although Arsenal are very interested in the player, they have not yet made a formal bid for the 24-year-old, but a suggested fee is somewhere in the region of €30 million.
Mustafi began his career with Everton but after failing to make a breakthrough has eventually ended up becoming a regular for Valencia last season, with 30 appearances in La Liga, 2 goals and 12 caps for Germany under his belt. The German international has been widely tipped to leave the Mestalla Stadium after Valencia’s disappointing La Liga campaign left them adrift of Champions League football for the upcoming season.
Meanwhile, Swiss international Schar is being linked by the Daily Express with a move to Arsenal following his impressive Euro 2016 displays.
The Gunners have previously expressed an interest in the 24-year-old, with comparisons being drawn between himself and Koscielny due to his pace and aggressive style of defending. The player would also satisfy the demand for experience as he has, over the course of his Basel and Hoffenheim career, gained experience of playing in the Europa and Champions League tournaments in addition to his World Cup and Euro 16 appearances.
Should Arsenal renew their interest in the central defender, he could link up with Swiss teammate Granit Xhaka at the Emirates before the start of the upcoming season.