Arsenal are reportedly stepping up their interest in securing the transfer of Shkodran Mustafi after losing Gabriel to an ankle injury for at least six weeks.
The Brazilian was stretchered off in the Gunners’ final pre-season friendly against Manchester City, and are also without Per Mertesacker after his injury earlier this summer.
According to BBC Sport’s David Ornstein, Arsenal are now preparing to replace Gabriel after his injury blow, which could potentially rule him out for as long as eight weeks.
Arsenal CB Gabriel out 6/8wks – ankle sprain. Not quite as bad as he 1st feared but #AFC stepping up pursuit of Valencia’s Shkodran Mustafi
— David Ornstein (@bbcsport_david) August 9, 2016
Wenger said at the weekend the injury was “certainly an ankle sprain” and possibly worse, and there has been no word on whether Gabriel is likely to be fit for Sunday’s Premier League opener against Liverpool.
Arsenal are yet to issue an official statement on Gabriel’s condition, but in an Instagram post on Tuesday the Brazilian said: “Today I feel much better, is not a big problem. [I] thank my fans.”
His absence would leave Arsenal short of experience at centre-half given Laurent Koscielny has already been ruled out by his manager.
Valencia defender Mustafi appears to be Arsene Wenger’s first choice to come in, though other reports have also seen West Brom defender Jonny Evans mentioned as a top target.
Arsenal play Liverpool on Sunday in their opening game of the Premier League season, and will hope to avoid being forced to play Calum Chambers and Rob Holding as their first-choice centre-back pairing.
Both of them have played together in pre-season, while Nacho Monreal and Mathieu Debuchy have previously filled in as an emergency measure.
Meanwhile, Wenger wants to sign a new defender by Friday after the Gunners’ injury crisis deepened and this could become his final summer signing.