Gunners swoop in on two deals

After slew of transfer no-gos, Arsenal to seal signings of Perez and Mustafi before deadline

LONDON • Arsenal are closing in on a double deal for striker Lucas Perez and defender Shkodran Mustafi, but manager Arsene Wenger insists that the signings will not be a reaction to fans calling for new players.

With Granit Xhaka the only major Gunners signing of the summer transfer window to date, their fans have been crying out for further recruits before next week's deadline.

Wenger's situation was worsened as the Gunners lost their opening Premier League game 3-4 at home to Liverpool, before drawing 0-0 at Leicester City last weekend.

While Wenger did sign Bolton defender Rob Holding and young Japanese striker Takuma Asano, a failed move for Leicester's Jamie Vardy contributed to a difficult summer for the Frenchman - as Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, John Stones and N'Golo Kante signed for rival clubs.

However, Wenger finally looks like adding to his squad with deals for Deportivo La Coruna's Perez (£17 million, or S$30 million) and Valencia's Mustafi (£35 million) expected in the coming days.

Perez, who scored 17 La Liga goals last season, was reportedly close to joining Everton before Arsenal stepped in, but Wenger insists he was not reacting to the fans' lust for spending money.

"I'm happy when our supporters are happy," he said yesterday. "But my job is to make the right decisions for the club.

"We are working on the deals. We are not close enough to announce today that they will sign for us. Will we sign anybody before the end of the transfer window? I am 99 per cent confident."

When asked if he expected to do any more business after looking to wrap up deals for Perez and Mustafi, Wenger said: "We already have a big squad. We have a requested number, and we can't have any more players any way."

The Frenchman may trim his squad temporarily with a loan move for defender Calum Chambers, who started alongside Holding in the defeat by Liverpool.

He will also be relieved to welcome back striker Olivier Giroud and playmaker Mesut Ozil for their first starts of the season at Watford today, although midfielder Aaron Ramsey is still out with a hamstring problem.

"It doesn't matter how we play, as long as we get the three points," said Arsenal forward Theo Walcott. "We don't want teams getting away from us. Watford is going to be another tough game because every game is this season."

Watford manager Walter Mazzarri also beefed up his squad by signing Newcastle United right-back Daryl Janmaat earlier this week.

The Dutch defender will likely start, while Younes Kaboul and Roberto Pereyra should also make their league debuts for the Hornets.

Mazzarri was left fuming following his side's midweek 1-2 League Cup shock loss to third-tier Gillingham.

He said: "I'm very angry because we can't see the danger of teams when we go ahead.

"The moment we go ahead, we should continue to play well but we got complacent. We just need to work on our mentality."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 27, 2016, with the headline 'Gunners swoop in on two deals'. Print Edition | Subscribe