Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger salvaged the London club’s summer transfer season with a late flurry of activity that saw the arrival of defender Shkodran Mustafi and striker Lucas Perez.
While Perez’s arrival adds further attacking options to Wenger’s side, it is the signing of Mustafi that was deemed most critical as following a preseason of injuries for centre-backs Per Mertesacker and Gabriel, Wenger was left woefully short of options in defence for the start of the new Premier League campaign.
Mustafi’s £35 million plus move from Valencia to Arsenal was one of the longest running transfer sagas of the summer and at times it appeared that Wenger’s frugal tendencies had killed any possibility of a deal.
However, a last-minute loosening of the purse strings by the Frenchman saw the deal done in time for the 24-year-old to link up with the London club before he departed for international duties with Germany this past week.
Now, as reported in the Express, via Spanish news outlet Sport, Barcelona director Robert Fernandez has hinted that Arsenal paid over the odds for the German and that his own side had done far better business by signing Lyon defender Samuel Umtiti for a ‘mere’ £21 million.
“I think we’ve done good deals. Umtiti in the current market would be worth a lot more.
“The Premier League [Arsenal] ended up paying €40m (£35m) for Mustafi, for example.”
While many might agree that Wenger paid through the nose for Mustafi, Gunners fans will insist, rightly, that failure to sign a centre-back this summer would have meant an early end to any Premier League title ambitions for another season.
As such, they will surely look upon Fernandez’s comments as a case of sour grapes.
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena