Tuesday 17 October 2017

Arsene Wenger finally swoops for record £52m double deal

Wenger's summer spending is close to £100m following deals earlier in the transfer window for Granit Xhaka and Rob Holding. Photo: Getty
Wenger's summer spending is close to £100m following deals earlier in the transfer window for Granit Xhaka and Rob Holding. Photo: Getty

Jeremy Wilson

Arsène Wenger oversaw the biggest spending day of his 32-year managerial career last night when bids totalling £52m were accepted for Valencia centre-back Shkodran Mustafi and Deportivo La Coruña striker Lucas Peréz Martinez.

After coming under intense pressure for his lack of signings, Wenger's summer spending is close to £100m following deals earlier in the transfer window for Granit Xhaka and Rob Holding.

Both Mustafi and Lucas are due in London for medicals ahead of what is expected to be the formalities of personal terms.

Mustafi had been Arsenal's top target at centre-back and, after Mesut Özil, is poised to become the second most expensive signing in their history, but the club's confused approach to their striker search was laid bare by their decision to hijack Everton's bid for Lucas.

Arsenal were first offered Lucas last week, but informed the 27-year-old Spaniard's representatives that he was not among their top transfer targets.

Read More: Arsene Wenger will have to cough up £25m to bring Jonny Evans to Arsenal

A deal was then agreed between Deportivo, Lucas and Everton for him to move to Goodison Park, only for Arsenal to change their minds at the last minute and gazump the Merseysiders.

Spanish sources were stunned when Arsenal decided to rival Everton's £17m bid late on Wednesday, having assumed they had decided to pursue targets higher up their list.

Arsenal officials travelled to Spain yesterday to conclude a deal, despite the previous agreement with Everton and interest from Valencia.

Having failed in bids to sign Jamie Vardy and Alexandre Lacazette, it appears Wenger decided he could not risk allowing Lucas to go to Everton and becoming a success.

Lucas has been compared to Vardy and caught the attention of Everton director of football Steve Walsh last season.

The Spaniard scored 17 La Liga goals for Deportivo last season and netted the winner in their 2-1 victory over Elbar last Friday, but questions will be asked over whether Lucas represents the sort of top quality Wenger has often claimed he is searching for.

Read More: Arsene Wenger confirms he is in talks with Shkodran Mustafi - but his dithering has inflated the price

Arsenal have been searching for centre-backs since the start of the year but the need gathered urgency during pre-season when both Per Mertesacker and Gabriel were injured.

The arrival of Mustafi is likely to mean that Calum Chambers is sent out on loan to gather experience.

Mertesacker is in the final year of his contract but, with Holding, Laurent Koscienly, Gabriel and Mustafi, Wenger does now appear to have rebuilt this area of his team.

The Mustafi deal reached a deadlock last week over the fee after Arsenal's initial £20m offer was rejected but, with Valencia also easing on their valuation, a compromise has been reached at £35m.

Arsenal's move for Lucas is a major blow to Everton, for whom Walsh could have secured the signing last week but a delay in negotiations allowed the Gunners to change their minds.

Everton will now have to look elsewhere for a striker to play alongside and deputise for Romelu Lukaku, who pledged to stay despite strong interest from the Belgian's former club Chelsea.

Telegraph.co.uk

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