Arsenal have agreed personal terms with Valencia centre-back Skhodran Mustafi and will now open official talks with the La Liga club over a permanent transfer for the German defender, according to his agent.
Ali Bulut, who is responsible for handling 24-year-old Mustafi’s affairs contract negotiations, has claimed that the Premier League side have already been in contact to agree a deal with the Germany international, despite not yet reaching an agreement with Valencia.
Speaking to German newspaper Spox, Bulut said: “It now just remains for the teams to come to an agreement over the fee.”
The problem for Arsenal is that they are reluctant to meet Valencia’s asking price for Mustafi, who has a £42.1m release clause in his contract. The Spanish club are willing to sell for less than that fee, although would still only be willing to sell for around £30m, and the Gunners are determined to talk Valencia down to around £25m before agreeing a deal.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger could be forced to abandon his frugal approach to the transfer market though due to the serious injury concerns in defence. Per Mertesacker will not play again this year after undergoing knee surgery last month, while his replacement, Gabriel Paulista, is facing two months on the sidelines due to an ankle injury suffered in the weekend pre-season victory over Manchester City.
Wenger’s problems are compounded in that Laurent Koscielny is lacking match fitness due to his post-Euro 2016 holiday, but he could now be rushed back quicker than the Arsenal manager anticipated due to his lack of options, with next weekend's clash against reigning Premier League champions Leicester City targeted for the Frenchman's return.
Despite rushing Koscielny back, Wenger will not risk him in this weekend’s season-opening encounter with Liverpool and will instead likely deploy Calum Chambers alongside natural left-back Nacho Monreal, meaning that Kieran Gibbs will be handed a start despite underperforming throughout last season.
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