Soccer

Arsenal transfer news: Shkodran Mustafi drawing Italian interest as Gunners prepare to loan out William Saliba

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Arsenal defender Shkodran Mustafi is drawing interest from several clubs in Serie A, sources have told CBS Sports, as the Gunners prepare to trim back their central defensive numbers in January.

It remains to be seen whether the German will be among those who join William Saliba in heading for the exit door next month. 

Arsenal would be open to selling Mustafi next month should an offer materialise for the 28-year-old, who is out of contract this summer. With his contract winding down, from December 31 he is free to hold talks with any team outside England over a summer move on a free transfer.

Mustafi figured prominently in manager Mikel Arteta’s plans last season before a hamstring injury sidelined him until mid-October. Since returning he has not started a Premier League game and was responsible for a high-profile error in Arsenal’s 4-1 defeat to Manchester City in the EFL Cup quarterfinals on Tuesday.

Lazio expressed an interest in Mustafi last summer and sources close to the player have indicated that there remains interest in Italy for the 2014 World Cup winner. CBS Sports soccer insider Fabrizio Romano understands that Roma could consider the player as a back-up option to a central defensive group that includes Chris Smalling, Roger Ibanez and Marash Kumbulla.

AC Milan are also a potential landing spot for Mustafi but are already in talks with Strasbourg center back Mohamed Simakan and have Schalke’s Ozan Kabak on their wish list as well.

Mustafi is not the only Arsenal defender who is free to negotiate with foreign clubs in January with Sokratis Papastathopoulos and David Luiz both also out of contract at the end of the season.

Meanwhile Arsenal intend to loan out Saliba, signed from Saint Etienne for $30million in the summer of 2019 and yet to play a senior game for the club.

The 19-year-old spent last season on loan with Saint Etienne and came close to rejoining Les Verts in October only for a deal to collapse in the last minutes. Attempts to find a temporary club for Saliba in the Championship also proved unfruitful with the Gunners unable to find a club that fulfilled their extensive list of criteria. 

Arteta told CBS Sports last night that the club hierarchy are discussing loan options for Saliba, who was left out of a heavily rotated squad for the defeat to Manchester City. “He cannot be involved because he is not in the squad,” was the Arsenal manager’s response when asked how close the youngster had come to being selected. He added: “We made that decision with him and we’ll see what we’re going to do in January.”



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