Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Arsenal are still in negotiations to sign Valencia defender Shkodran Mustafi and hopes to complete the move before next week’s transfer deadline in an effort to strengthen his defensive options.
Wenger has come in for fierce criticism this summer for failing to make progress in the transfer window, with the additions of Granit Xhaka and Rob Holding deemed inadequate by the majority of the club’s fans to inspire the side to a genuine title challenge this season.
Despite the season-opening 4-3 defeat by Liverpool, Wenger has not completed any further signings, while the club have also confirmed that their third summer signing – Japanese striker Takuma Asano – will not play for the club this season after failing to gain a work permit.
With Arsenal short in defence after seeing Per Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista ruled out with long-term injuries, fans called on Wenger to spend in the transfer window via fierce protests – both at the Emirates a week ago and at the King Power Stadium after Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Leicester City.
Wenger has now confirmed though that he is trying to sign 24-year-old Mustafi and insisted that negotiations remain ongoing despite fears that the move had collapsed.
“Mustafi? We hope it will be done,” Wenger told French TV station SFR Sport. “He is one of a number of players we are looking at. Negotiations are ongoing."
Mustafi is believed to have already agreed personal terms with Arsenal through his agent, Ali Bulut, although Valencia have elected to recall him to their squad for their opening La Liga fixture of the season as they take on Las Palmas on Monday night.
While the news may appease some fans frustrated with the lack of progress in the transfer window, there are still many who feel Arsenal will be well short of a title challenge unless they address their lack of options in attack. Olivier Giroud returned to the squad for Saturday’s encounter, but a fourth consecutive away draw that stretches back to last season has left Arsenal five points behind Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea after just two matches and already playing catch-up.
Arsenal failed in their efforts to sign Jamie Vardy from Leicester while Gonzalo Higuain elected to join Juventus when Arsenal chose not to meet Napoli’s £78m asking price, leaving Wenger struggling to fill his requirement for a new striker. Interest does still remain in Alexandre Lacazette, but he appears increasingly likely to remain with Lyon after scoring five goals in their first two Ligue 1 games.
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