By Alex Taylor

Valencia director of football Jesus Garcia Pitarch has given Arsenal hope of securing a deal for Shkodran Mustafi by admitting the club could sell a centre-back.

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.

Sky Sports’ Spanish expert Guillem Balague has claimed this week that the Gunners are poised to sign the central defender for a fee of £25.9million.

Pitarch has now explained that financial fair play restrictions could mean Valencia are forced to cash in on Mustafi or one of his defender team-mates.

“We’re above the FFP guidelines,” Pitarch told Spanish outlet SuperDeporte. “That’s the reality, and as of today, the four players we’ve signed cannot be registered, meaning we need to reduce the cost in a significant manner to register the players and sign a centre-back, which is a priority in case one of the ones at our club leaves.

“Obviously, if they don’t leave, we can’t sign a new one not only because of financial restrictions, but also because it wouldn’t be logical to have five or six centre-backs. We need to continue with a reduced budget, but if there’s an exit, we need a new centre-back.”

Wenger has admitted that he is in the market for a defensive cover, and was forced to turn to rookie duo Rob Holding and Calum Chambers for the team’s 4-3 defeat to Liverpool last Sunday.

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.