Good news for Arsenal fans, with manager Arsene Wenger showing no signs of easing up on the chase for the signature of Shkodran Mustafi. The Gunners have already had a £15m bid for the German centre-back rejected but an improved offer of £20m is said to be in the works (via Goal.com).
Chances of landing the 24-year-old look to have been boosted on the news that he has was left out of the Valencia squad which drew at Bournemouth on Wednesday night. His exclusion is only fuelling speculation that he will soon be on the move. However AC Milan, reports The Telegraph, are also in the hunt to sign Mustafi. But Arsenal’s healthier balance sheet is putting them in pole position, given the defender’s £45m release clause.
Wenger, as ever, is coy but quietly confident. “We know from experience the most active period is in the last week of August and at the moment it is still a big poker game everywhere,” he is quoted by The Evening Standard, “The best way to conclude transfers is not to talk about it, but we are in the market. Do I think we will sign an experienced central defender before the season starts? Yes, I do.”
Those words are reassuring given that in the past we’ve seen Wenger back out of deals owing to hefty price tags. But this time things look to be different. Undoubtedly, even Wenger now understands that given the state of our defensive roster (Koscielny recovering, Mertesacker out, Gabriel fighting tonsillitis) relying solely on players already in the squad is not an option.
That said, with the first fixture of the season against Liverpool little more than a week away, there is every chance that youngsters Calum Chambers and Rob Holding (a new signing this summer) could find themselves in the starting line-up. The thought does little to ease fears that, as with last year’s 2-0 home defeat to West Ham, this season will get off to a terrible start.