Arsenal have received a double boost to their hopes of signing Shkodran Mustafi. Firstly, Valencia sporting director Jesus Garcia Pitarch confirmed the club needs to sell at least two more players before the end of the transfer window to fulfil Financial Fair Play regulations. In the same press conference, the La Liga side's chief admitted Los Che have earmarked the return of Napoli centre-back Raul Albiol as a priority for the current mercato – a deal that could pave the way for the exit of the Gunners target.
Sky Germany reported at the weekend that Arsenal had already opened talks with Valencia to sign Mustafi in a deal worth around £25.3m ($33.6m), plus a further £8.4m in add-ons.
Arsene Wenger has since admitted he needs a defender to replace the injured Per Mertesacker. When asked specifically about his intentions of signing the Valencia centre-back, he replied: "We have not closed any deal with anybody at the moment. That's the answer. You speak about Mustafi. Is it Mustafi or anybody else? We haven't concluded anything at the moment."
Valencia have previously reiterated a number of times this summer that selling the German is not in their plans, as he remains a key figure for manager Paco Ayestaran. However, Los Che also said the same about Andre Gomes, to only sell the Portugal international days later to Barcelona in a big-money operation that could be worth up to €70m.
Reports in Spain suggest Mustafi will be allowed to leave should a good offer arrive, as he is one of the only players in Valencia's current ranks with a high enough reputation to give them a considerable windfall.
Pitarch has now admitted Los Che need to part ways with some more players, during the presentation of former Barcelona right-back Martin Montoya, but did not declare whether Mustafi will be one of them.
"This is a turbulent summer. We have been able to complete seven exits and we would have to make two or three more to to meet the Fair Play [regulations]," the Valencia sporting director confirmed.
But when asked by a reporter whether Mustafi could be one of the players chosen to leave Mestalla, he responded: "I said [earlier in the summer] that there would be many changes and there have been many changes, mainly because the obligation to comply with Financial Fair Play. In this line we have taken many decisions and we have taken decisions that I would have like not to take. I would have preferred to have €100m to sign new players."
One way or another it looks that the club are preparing themselves for the life without the Arsenal target. Yet, recent reports in Spain claimed that they had already sounded the options to sign Napoli star Raul Albiol and Deportivo de la Coruna defender Sidnei to bolster the back-line.
Asked about the interest in the two centre-backs, Pitarch admitted: "We have set the target to bring Raul Albiol back to Valencia."
"If Raul can not return we will consider other alternatives but we will wait for him because it is something that excites us and we know that also excites him and his family as he supports Valencia," Pitarch added. "The priority is to sign Albiol. Obviously it is difficult. He is playing at a big club where he has a big role. I recently met with (Napoli president) De Laurentiis in Naples and he closed the door (for us to sign Albiol) and we respect that."
Other player linked with a summer move away has been Dani Parejo. The Spaniard has been sent to train away from his teammates by Ayerstaran after trying to force a move to Sevilla.
However, and upset Pitarch, has claimed that the former QPR is going nowhere.
"He's disrespecting the Valencia fans and the club. We've told Monchi he's not going to Sevilla. I've never seen a player behave like Parejo. It's because of his agent, not Sevilla," Pitarch said. "Turn the page. If Parejo apologises to the fans and his agents behave as they should, the fans will forgive him."