By Tony Hughes

Arsenal are confident of signing Shkodran Mustafi by the middle of next week, according to a reliable journalist.

Gazzetta Dello Sport and Tribal Football journalist Emmanuele Giulianelli claimed on his personal Twitter account on Friday night that there has been a breakthrough in the Gunners’ pursuit of the centre-back.

This comes after Giulianelli claimed on Thursday that the Gunners’ bid of £26million for Mustafi had been rejected by his club Valencia.

The Germany international, 24, has emerged as a prime target for Arsene Wenger as he aims to bolster the Gunners’ defensive ranks after a spate of pre-season injuries have left them without Per Mertesacker and Gabriel for the opening months of the season.

Giulianelli first broke the news of Arsenal’s interest in Mustafi and has delivered regular updates on the deal in the last three weeks.

Giulianelli claimed on Wednesday that Arsenal had bid for the centre-back and 24 hours later he provided some new details by revealing on his personal Twitter account that the bid had been turned down, although Mustafi had agreed personal terms with the London giants.

Giulianelli had claimed on Wednesday that the Gunners had offered £21.5million plus £4.3million of add-ons for the centre-back.

Wenger has admitted that he is in the market for a new centre-back, although midfielder enforcer Francis Coquelin is being considered as a stop-gap option ahead of Sunday’s Premier League opener against Liverpool.

German defender Mustafi has won 12 caps for his country after establishing himself as a regular for his La Liga side 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.

Mustafi has three years left on his current deal in Spain, but could be tempted by a move to the Premier League.

In other Arsenal transfer news, the Gunners are preparing to lodge a £30million bid for Manchester City striker Wilfred Bony.