Arsenal’s long-running chase for Valencia’s Shkodran Mustafi has been dragging on almost as long as Manchester United’s courting of Paul Pogba.
Just when Gunners fans were thinking that an end was in sight, with manager Arsene Wenger finally admitting to talks with the La Liga side and reports of a €25 million (plus €3 million in bonuses) offer for the defender, it now seems that a deal is still a long way off.
According to ESPN (via the Mirror), Valencia are set to demand in the region of £50 million for the Germany international, double what was originally thought to be needed to secure a transfer for the experienced centre-back.
Arsenal’s defensive frailties have already been laid bare after only two games of the Premier League season. A 4-3 home loss to Liverpool on the opening day was followed up with a draw to fellow stuttering starters, Leicester City.
Now five points adrift of the top of the table, Wenger is desperate to secure a top name to help bolster a defensive roster that will be without the experience of club captain Per Mertesacker until the new year.
While the La Liga side look to maximise the returns they could get from selling Mustafi to the cash rich Premier League, it is well known that the club is in dire need of finances and will therefore likely sell for a reduced price.
Arsenal are willing to spend in the region of £25 million and have reportedly dispatched a team to travel to Spain to thrash out a deal before the closure of the transfer window next week.
It is understood that while Mustafi is Wenger’s top defensive target, he is unwilling to spend above what he regards as value for money.
Former Manchester United and current West Brom defender Jonny Evans has also interested the Arsenal manager and while Baggies boss Tony Pulis insists the Northern Irishman is not for sale, the notoriously frugal Wenger may well see Evans as a cheaper alternative if Valencia dig their heels in over Mustafi.
This is not what Arsenal fans will have wanted, or expected, to hear waking up on Monday morning and will surely be less than impressed with the potential loss of yet another transfer target.
All eyes are now on Wenger and whether he will finally spend what it takes to secure only his second big name of the summer.
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena