Arsenal looking to seal the transfer of Valencia's Shkodran Mustafi.
Arsenal looking to seal the transfer of Valencia's Shkodran Mustafi.

Arsenal’s top priority transfer target Shkodran Mustafi has been left out of Valencia’s squad ahead of their pre-season friendly with Nigeria All-stars on Wednesday.

Valencia manager Pako Ayestarán, who replaced the sacked Gary Neville, has fueled transfer speculation by leaving the highly rated central defender out of his 23-man squad.

The Gunners, who are facing something of an injury crisis at the back at the moment, will be without both Per Mertesacker and Gabriel through injury while Laurent Koscielny is yet to reach match fitness after returning late from his Euro 2016 exploits.

Like Wenger, Chelsea boss Antonio Conte is also after a new centre-back. Chelsea have been linked with Roma’s Kostas Manolas and Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli. But the Stamford Bridge side have hit a brick wall in their pursuits of the Serie A duo and they are now keeping an eye on the Valencia defender.

The Germany international has been strongly linked as a top target for Arsene Wenger’s side and, with their opening Premier League fixture with Liverpool just around the corner, the club are hoping to speed up transfer dealings.

As the current squad situations stands, it is looking likely that Wenger will need to draft in Calum Chambers and Rob Holding as the team’s first-choice defensive partnership to take on the Reds at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

With rumours circulating that Valencia are eyeing Manchester City defender Eliaquim Mangala as replacement for Mustafi, Ayestarán’s squad selection could be a major hint for worried Arsenal fans.

The 24-year-old Germany international has emerged as a top defensive talent after impressing at Sampdoria and Valencia and has been part of German squads at the last two major international tournaments.

So far Arsenal have been rather conservative in the transfer market. Granit Xhaka was a big early buy, but only future prospects Takuma Asano and Rob Holding have arrived since.

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