Arsenal have finally made some progress in their hunt for a top class centre-back as Valencia have given Shkodran Mustafi permission to leave the La Liga side.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has been dealing with something of a defensive catastrophe since mid-July following the injuries sustained to experienced centre-backs Per Mertesacker and Gabriel. Denied of experience, the veteran Frenchman has had to rely on new signing Rob Holding and 21-year-old Calum Chambers to secure the Arsenal back line.
In a bid to strengthen the club’s defensive options, the pursuit of Valencia centre-back Shkodran Mustafi has become something of a saga this summer. A well-known and well publicised target since late June, the expectation among Gunners fans was that a deal would have been completed weeks ago.
Reports of Valencia’s need to raise capital and Arsene Wenger’s insistence that he had money to spend only bolstered the assumption that a deal could be done quickly. Still, weeks later, fans wait.
Now however, according to Sky Sports presenter Kaveh Solhekol, it seems their wait might be about to come to an end as it has emerged that Valencia have finally given Mustafi the green light to leave the club.
Better still, reports that the La Liga side are holding out for an offer in the region of £50 million have been quashed as it is now believed that £26 million will secure the services of the Germany international.
Mustafi & agent met Valencia officials yesterday. Told he can leave if adequate offer made. Suggestion Arsenal deal could be agreed at £26m
— Kaveh Solhekol (@SkyKaveh) August 24, 2016
Arsenal boss Wenger has reportedly been drawing up contingency plans for alternative defensive options, including Manchester United’s Phil Jones, with only days remaining in the summer transfer window. News of Valencia’s softening position regarding Mustafi will come as a serious boost for the beleaguered manager.
With the reported asking price well within range of the Premier League club and very likely within the acceptable limits for the notoriously frugal Wenger, fans might well start believing that finally, after a whole summer of failed attempts, defensive stability is about to return to the Emirates.
Over to you, Mr. Wenger.
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena