Friday 24 November 2017

Fan pressure had nothing to do with £52m swoop for Perez and Mustafi - Arsene Wenger

Germany international Shkodran Mustafi is set to join Arsenal from Valencia
Germany international Shkodran Mustafi is set to join Arsenal from Valencia

Mark Mann-Bryans

Arsenal are closing in on a double deal for striker Lucas Perez and defender Shkodran Mustafi, but manager Arsene Wenger insists the signings will not be a reaction to fans calling out for new players.

With Granit Xhaka the only major signing of the summer transfer window to date, Arsenal supporters have been crying out for further new recruits.

Wenger's situation was worsened as the Gunners lost their opening Premier League game at home to Liverpool, before drawing 0-0 at Leicester last weekend.

Arsenal did sign Bolton defender Rob Holding and young Japanese striker Takuma Asano - who has not been granted a work permit - but a failed move for Foxes forward Jamie Vardy contributed to a difficult summer for Wenger - as the likes of Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, John Stones and N'Golo Kante were signing for their rivals.

But now Wenger looks like adding to his numbers with deals for Deportivo La Caruna's Perez and Valencia's Mustafi expected in the coming days, although not before Saturday's trip to Watford.

Perez, 27, was reportedly close to joining Everton before Arsenal stepped in, but Wenger insists he was not reacting to the fans' lust for spending money.

"I'm happy when our supporters are happy," he said.

"But my job is to make the right decisions, if that is exactly similar to the contract of the players and that maintains the supporters being happy - that is even better. I focus first on making the right decisions for the club.

"We are working on the deals. We are not close enough to announce today that they will sign for us, and will we sign anybody before the end of the transfer window? I am 99 per cent confident.

"It was a strange transfer market. I expected it to be easier than ever but it was more difficult than ever. Not a lot has happened.

"It looks like when you meet other clubs and you have an English passport, you hit these prices which are very difficult to understand compared to the quality of the players. It looks like it will be frenetic for me in the last three days. Everybody has sat on their pounds until now. We know they will all splash out now. I expect the next three days to be very, very busy, so be on alert!

Asked if he expected to do any more business after looking to wrap up deals for Perez, who scored 17 La Liga goals last season, and Valencia skipper Mustafi, Wenger said: "We already have a big squad, and we are already short on the numbers now. We have a requested number, and we can't have any more players any way."

Wenger may trim his squad, albeit it temporarily, with a loan move in the offing for defender Calum Chambers, who started alongside Holding in the defeat to Liverpool.

"Future? No," he said when asked if Chambers' future would be affected by the signing of Mustafi, adding: "The fact that he could go out somewhere and play? Yes."

Someone who has already left the club on loan is Costa Rica forward Joel Campbell, who has joined Sporting Lisbon for the remainder of the season.

The 24-year-old, who is now onto his fifth loan spell since moving to the Emirates Stadium, had impressed after finally breaking into the Arsenal side last season - but Wenger knows he wants to play more football.

"I believe that he's a bit of a victim of the size of the squad," the Frenchman said.

"He is now at an age where he needs to play more regularly and I don't rule out that he comes back here and plays. He has gone to Sporting Lisbon and I think it's an interesting championship.

"Portugal always has an interesting championship and let's see how it goes for him."

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