Just over a week now remains of the summer transfer window and Arsenal has yet to address its deficiencies in defense and attack, with manager Arsene Wenger increasingly adamant that he will not been pressured into spending. So far this summer, Arsenal’s only major signing has been midfielder Granit Xhaka. Meanwhile, the club’s next most expensive arrival, Japanese forward Takuma Asano, will not even be able to play for the Gunners this season having been denied a work permit in recent days.
With Arsenal starting the Premier League season with just one point from two games, Wenger has faced mounting pressure from supporters to add to his squad. Following injuries to Per Mertesacker and Gabriel during preseason, Wenger conceded that he needed to bring in an experienced center-back. And yet his hunt has so failed to bear fruit.
His primary target has long appeared to be Valencia’s Shkodran Mustafi, and he revealed after Saturday’s goalless draw with Leicester City that he was hopeful of a deal going through.
“Mustafi? We hope it will be done,” he told French TV station SFR Sport. “He is one of a number of players we are looking at. Negotiations are ongoing.”
Given Arsenal’s need, Mustafi’s pedigree as a World Cup winner with Germany and Valencia’s believed willingness to sell in order to ease its financial problems, it has been hard to work out why a deal hasn’t already been concluded. Mustafi was even left out of Valencia’s lineup for its opening La Liga match the season at the weekend, however coach Pako Ayestaran has now insisted that Mustafi will not be going anywhere, unless a club meets his €50 million (£43 million) release clause.
“Mustafi is not for sale and he will stay at Valencia,” he said. “The market is open and there are still possibilities,”
It is an amount that it is extremely difficult to imagine Wenger sanctioning paying, particularly given the increasingly entrenched attitude he expressed after the draw at Leicester, when he instead chose to focus on the performance of new 20-year-old defender Rob Holding.
“I spend £300m if I find the player and if I have the £300m,” Wenger said. “Not to forget as well that we are a club who has 600 employees who we need to have a responsible attitude for as well. I believe that you have to respect the players who play, the performance that has been done today by those teams and if you find players who can strengthen our team, then we are not reluctant to spend the money.”
That attitude is also set to preclude a transfer for West Brom’s Jonny Evans. The former Manchester United center-back emerged as a surprise target for Arsenal last week, but West Brom has now slapped a £25 million price tag on the 28-year-old, reports The Telegraph. Even for a club far more willing to spend money than Arsenal, that would be a huge fee, particularly given that Evans moved to the Hawthorns for just £6 million a year ago.
Such are the difficulties Arsenal is experiencing with its search for a center-back that the club is now reported to have made an inquiry for Monaco’s Marcel Tisserand. The 23-year-old spent last season on loan at Toulouse and would be a surprise target for the Gunners. However, the Daily Mirror reports that Tisserand is now holding off on an potential move to Spanish side Espanyol in order to see what comes of Arsenal’s interest.
Wenger’s desire to find value in the transfer market has undeniably been undermined by his dithering. As the transfer deadline approaches, clubs only become more reluctant to sell players, given the extra difficulty in replacing them. Such appears to be the case with yet another Arsenal target, Alexandre Lacazette.
A deal for the Lyon forward looked to be highly attainable earlier in the summer, with the player making clear his openness to moving on. But, having rejected a €35 million (£30 million) bid from Arsenal for the France international, Lyon has now insisted that he will not be sold.
“Of course [he will stay], Alexandre is one of the key players in the team," president Jean-Michel Aulas told RMC Radio.