Arsenal could sell both Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papastathopoulos in the summer transfer window as Mikel Arteta looks to bring in two new centre-backs. That’s according to The Athletic’s David Ornstein, who was speaking to the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust on Wednesday.
The Gunners boss is keen to freshen up his options at the back but already has an abundance of players there.
According to the well-connected Ornstein, Mustafi and Sokratis are seen as the most dispensable, with David Luiz having been a regular under Arteta since his appointment last December.
While Mustafi has improved since the Spaniard’s arrival at the back end of 2019, his error-strewn four years at the Emirates count against him and at 28, he is one who Arsenal could attract a healthy fee for.
Sokratis, meanwhile, turns 32 in June and has made it clear he has no desire to stick around in north London to be second choice.
With Luiz boasting a similar level of experience, the Greek is likely to be moved on for a relatively minimal fee.
Selling the pair would leave Arteta with Luiz, Rob Holding, Calum Chambers as permanent options – as well as William Saliba, who will return from a loan spell at Saint-Etienne.
But with Chambers potentially out until Christmas due to injury, the Spanish coach will want direct replacements should both Mustafi and Sokratis be moved on.
Arsenal have been linked with a whole host of defenders but have genuine interest in the likes of RB Leipzig centre-half Dayot Upamecano and Axel Disasi of Reims.
Upamecano is expected to be out of Arsenal’s price range due to a release clause of around £53million but Disasi is a viable option at £13m.
If Arsenal sign two new defenders, one of them is highly likely to be Pablo Mari, who is already on loan with the Gunners.
The Spaniard can be signed from parent club Flamengo on a permanent basis for a fee of around £13.5million and would give Arteta the left-footed option he wants at the back.
And the player himself has made it clear he wants to join permanently.
“England’s good for me: there’s a thousand things to improve, but I fit,” Mari told the Guardian. “I’m happy and I’d really like Arsenal to use the purchase option.
“With the coronavirus situation I don’t know what’s happening, it’s difficult, but I hope I can belong here.
“My moment has arrived. The chance to sign for four years, an opportunity I think I’ve earned. It’s time. I like the idea of no longer going round and round.
“If I have to, I’ll keep going until my career ends, but I think I’ve found a club to put down roots.
“A traditional club that supports its people, people who believe in it and give everything. I’d like to be part of that, a great footballer for many years for Arsenal.”
Arteta may then look to add another option in addition to Mari, although the 26-year-old would already have competition for a starting spot in Mari, Luiz and Holding.
Arsenal legend Kevin Campbell has meanwhile urged Arteta to be ruthless in his summer overhaul and suggests as many as nine first-team players may need to be sold.
“Whether we like it or not, money’s going to dictate a lot of what Arsenal do,” he told AFTV’s Football Fans For The NHS.
“I think there needs to be a ruthless streak going in.
“There’s been a lot of players there who have just sort of done enough and Arteta’s taken over and they’re improving but we know they’re not good enough.
“I think there’s got to be a cull, there’s probably eight players I’ll have out. Eight or nine players.
“I’ll clear the deck. They haven’t been good enough for two, three, four – however many – seasons now.
“We haven’t qualified for the Champions League, if we don’t this year – which I don’t think we are – it’s going to be the third season outside of the Champions League going into the fourth.
“No, there has to be drastic changes and it needs Arteta to be ruthless. If it was me, there’d be eight or nine gone.”