Arsenal have seen per Mertesacker and Gabriel knocked out in the pre-season and are keen to strike a deal for either Shkodran Mustafi or Jonny Evans ahead of Liverpool’s visit this Sunday.

Arsene Wenger wants to sign a new defender by Friday after the Gunners’ injury crisis deepened and this could become his final summer signing.

The arsenal boss is trying to push through a move for either Valencia’s Shkodran Mustafi or Jonny Evans of West Brom as soon as possible.

The French boss fears Gabriel Paulista could join fellow centre-back Mertesacker on a long-term injury list after he was taken off during Sunday’s friendly against Manchester City with an ankle injury.

Gabriel was reduced to tears and left the Ullevi Stadium with his left foot in a protective boot after picking up suspected ankle ligament damage in Arsenal’s 3-2 win.

Arsenal will assess the Brazilian further on Tuesday as they try to discover the full extent of the injury.

He is certain to miss Liverpool’s visit to north London, and might face a lengthy spell on the ­sidelines. It has increased the club’s already pressing need to bring in defensive reinforcements.

And if he is out of action long-term, the Gunners may try to sign both their centre-back targets.

24-year-old Mustafi has a £42million buyout clause – but Valencia believed to be willing to let him leave for as a little as £25m.

The La Liga side’s search for a replacement is already well underway ahead of the Germany international’s expected exit.

Manchester United old boy and Northern Ireland international 28-year-old Evans is valued at around £15m.

Wenger may be forced to rush Laurent Koscielny back into action if he fails to secure a new defensive signing by the end of the week.

Koscielny has only just returned to training having been handed an extended break after helping France reach the Euro 2016 final on July 10.

If Wenger finds out his countryman not ready for the Liverpool clash, he will be left with facing Jurgen Klopp’s side without a senior centre-half.

Youngsters Calum Chambers and Rob Holding are his only two other centre-back options.

If 20-year-old Holding plays, it will be a fairy tale premier league debut for the summer signing from League One Bolton.

Full-backs Nacho Monreal and Mathieu Debuchy, who was expected to leave this summer, have both filled in at the heart of the Arsenal defence previously and could be called on again.

Holding midfielder Francis Coquelin is another who could drop back to plug a hole at the back.


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