Guillem Balague has insisted that Arsenal are likely to miss out on Valencia defender Shkodran Mustafi, although it isn’t entirely their fault.
The German international has been linked with a move to north London for weeks, with Arsene Wenger scrambling to address a major issue with his squad.
With Per Mertesacker and Gabriel sidelined with injury, the French tactician needs experience and quality in central defence with summer signing Rob Holding thrown in the deep end to start the new Premier League campaign.
Wenger would have hoped to have been able to secure the signing of Mustafi this summer ahead of the deadline, but the 24-year-old’s release clause could now be a major stumbling block to any transfer.
“The coaching staff at Valencia think Mustafi will not go, and this is the same message being made by Valencia,” he told Sky Sports.
“They insist the only way Mustafi will be allowed to leave is if Arsenal trigger his €50m (£43.1m) buy-out clause, which I think everybody will agree is too much money for him.
“I heard Arsene Wenger confirm publicly that Arsenal were in negotiations for Mustafi. That’s very rare for him to do so. Perhaps he is trying to apply some pressure on Valencia to sell.”
For all the criticism that Wenger faces, the question should be put to Arsenal supporters as to whether or not they really want to see the club splash out £43.1m on a player that few will argue deserves such a price-tag.
Admittedly, the Arsenal boss needs to buy between now and the deadline as ultimately the squad isn’t deep enough in key areas to launch a sustained bid to win silverware this season.
Further, these issues aren’t new and should have been addressed a long time ago, but this is the situation now facing Wenger and he must make the right decision which makes sense on various fronts.
If a move for Mustafi doesn’t materialise, then he must have a back-up plan in place, not only for the team but also for his own sake as the criticism heading his way will only intensify.