Arsene Wenger has confirmed Arsenal are closing in on signing striker Lucas Perez and centre-back Shkodran Mustafi but says the deals are yet to be completed.
“We are working on the deals,” Wenger said on Friday at a news conference. “We are not close enough to announce to you today that they will sign for us. Will we sign anybody before the end of the transfer window? I’m 99 percent confident [we will].”
Arsenal moved on Thursday to trigger a £17 million release clause for Perez, the Deportivo La Coruna striker who had also been a target for Everton. British media then reported Thursday evening that the Gunners had also agreed a £35m fee for Mustafi, the Valencia defender, after lengthy talks with the Spanish club.
Both players are yet to complete a medical with Arsenal, but Wenger said he thinks the transfers will be wrapped up before next week’s deadline day.
“I think today maybe I’m a bit too optimistic, but I hope what we have done what we wanted before [deadline day],” he said.
If both deals go through, it would take Arsenal’s summer spending to over £90 million, a club record. Asked if that would put to bed his reputation for being too reluctant to part with the club’s money, Wenger couldn’t resist a joke.
“You accuse me now of being a money splasher?” he said. “It is a shame you are not my friend, you would see when you go out with me I spend a lot of money.”
The Frenchman also acknowledged that 21-year-old Calum Chambers could be sent out on loan for the season once another centre-back is brought in.
Asked if signing a defender would affect Chambers’ future, Wenger said: “Future? No. The fact that he could go out somewhere [on loan] and play? Yes.”
Arsenal have already sent winger Joel Campbell on loan to Sporting Lisbon but Wenger said he’s not expecting any more players other than Chambers to leave.
Campbell’s latest loan move has put the Costa Rican’s future in doubt after he failed to lock down a place in the squad, and Wenger acknowledged that he had too many other options for the forward to be needed at the Emirates.
“I believe (Campbell) is a bit the victim of the size of the squad. He is now at an age as well where he needs to play more regularly,” he said. “I don’t rule out that he comes back here and plays. But he has gone to Sporting Lisbon and I think it’s an interesting challenge because Portugal has always a very interesting championship.”
Mustafi and Perez are expected to complete Wenger’s transfer business in terms of incomings, but the Arsenal boss predicted a very busy end to the window for other Premier League clubs.
Despite rival clubs having made a number of big signings already, Wenger said many teams have been keeping their powder dry because of the inflated transfer prices.
“It was a strange transfer market. I expected it to be easier than ever. And it was more difficult than ever,” Wenger said. “Because not a lot has happened. It looks like when you come out with an English passport that you are hit with prices that are very difficult to understand compared to the quality of the players.
“It looks like it will be frenetic in the last three days. And that everybody sat on his pounds until now. But we know they will all splash out now. So I expect the next three days to be very, very busy. So be on alert.”