Shkodran Mustafi is one of the most wanted defenders in Europe at the moment with numerous clubs fighting for his signature. Arsenal have emerged as the favourite to land the German international, and although the deal seemed to be done a couple of weeks ago, completion now appears to be far from settled.
Valencia are asking for around £30 million for the centre-back, but Arsene Wenger is unwilling to pay more than £20 million, meaning the clubs remain locked in negotiations over a fee for the former Sampdoria player. However, the Gunners will have to compete with other interested clubs and may have to simply ‘pay up’, as Liverpool and other big-name clubs appear to now be circling with the belief that they can steal the deal given the longevity of Arsenal’s pursuit.
Both Premier League rivals are desperate to bolster their respective defences, and the 3-4 result that occurred between them on the opening day of the Premier League season is evidence that Arsenal and Liverpool are each in need of an improved back-line. Wenger especially appears to be facing several problems at centre-back in particular, with Mertesacker and Gabriel sidelined with injury while Laurent Koscielny is also currently less than 100%. The French manager is looking for a speedy resolution and would like to see Mustafi at The Emirates as soon as possible, and fans would argue this is now a must if the Gunners have serious hopes of challenging at the very peak of the Premier League.
Liverpool, on the other hand, are in a slightly better position defensively than Arsenal, though conceding three goals in a single game is enough to concern any manager. Though the questions that have been raised regarding the Reds defence have been aimed primarily at left-back Alberto Moreno rather than Liverpool’s more central defenders, Klopp will undoubtedly be interested in Mustafi who averaged more tackles and interceptions combined (7.1) than any other player in La Liga last season.
Mustafi is also quite reliable in the air and is a threat from indirect set-pieces. The World Cup winner wants to leave Valencia, and the club is prepared to sell him, but only for the right price.
The 24-year-old defender was the only Valencia player to be included in La Liga’s Best XI list in 2015/16, playing 30 games for the team and scoring two goals. Mustafi has also represented his country at every level and currently has 12 senior caps for the reigning World Champions. Given all these impressive stats, it is no wonder Valencia are not prepared to sell him on the cheap, particularly in the current high-priced market.
While the talks between Arsenal and Valencia are still locked, Wenger is also looking elsewhere towards Monaco’s Marcel Tisserand. However, they are also facing competition in that deal from St. Etienne.
At this moment in time, there is a chance that Arsenal could be left empty-handed regarding a centre-back at the end of this transfer window. Mustafi remains Wenger’s top priority, and the player already expressed his desire in joining the Gunners, but this story is far from over. Will Arsenal swallow their pride and pay out the big fee? They seem to be the only Premier League side not prepared to do so.