By London correspondent Tony Hughes
Arsenal have made an approach for Germany international Shkodran Mustafi, according to a report.
The Valencia centre-back is on the radar of the Gunners amid a claim by a reliable journalist on Monday evening that Per Mertesacker could be sidelined for up to five months with a knee injury.
Gazzetta Dello Sport journalist and transfer expert Emanuele Giulianelli subsequently reported on his personal Twitter account that Arsenal made contact with Mustafi’s representatives last week.
Last week contacts between Arsenal and the agent of Shkodran Mustafi, German defender. #AFC
— Emanuele Giulianelli (@EmaGiulianelli) July 25, 2016
Mustafi, 24, has won 12 caps for Germany after establishing himself as a regular for La Liga side Valencia since his transfer from Sampdoria in 2014.
The former Everton academy graduate featured for the World Cup winners at Euro 2016 and scored in the opening match against Ukraine, which his team won 2-0.
Arsenal were already in the market for a senior centre-back before it was announced on their official Twitter account on Monday that Mertesacker had sustained a knee problem and would not be a part of the squad that travels on their pre-season tour of the USA, meaning he could be in danger of missing the season opener against Liverpool.
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) July 25, 2016
Kike Marin, a senior correspondent and columnist for Spain’s leading online newspaper El Confidencial, then revealed on his personal Twitter account the German defender is facing a lengthy absence in what would be a shattering blow for the Gunners.
— Kike Marin** (@Kike_Marin_) July 25, 2016
The potential long-term absence of the former Germany international would be a major blow for manager Arsene Wenger.
Mertesacker was lined up to be appointed the new captain this season and remains a first-team regular even though he has entered the final year of his contract.
The former Germany international was pushed closely by Brazilian Gabriel Paulista in the battle to partner Laurent Koscielny at the heart of the defence last season but ended the campaign in the team.
The 2014 World Cup winner has made 207 appearances in all competitions since joining Arsenal in 2011 and his experience will be sorely missed.
The opening Premier League match against rivals Liverpool will be made even harder as five other senior stars are set to miss the clash.
In other Arsenal transfer news, the Gunners have made a move for a £25million-rated Euro 2016 star.