x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

German defender Mertesacker close to deal with Arsenal

Defensive recruit ends pursuit of Jagielka and Cahill, leaving Arsene Wenger with a central midfielder to sign

Arsenal are close to completing the third of four planned transfers after agreeing a transfer fee and personal terms with Germany international Per Mertesacker. Werder Bremen will receive €9 million (Dh47.7m) for the 26-year-old central defender.

Mertesacker was excused from national team duty yesterday to fly to London for a medical. At 6ft 6in he is regarded as the answer to Arsenal's problems defending set pieces and their vulnerability to a direct aerial game against Premier League opponents such as Stoke City and Blackburn Rovers.

Capped 75 times by his country, Mertesacker has been monitored by Arsenal since before the 2010 World Cup. His intelligence and positional sense appeal to Arsene Wenger, though there have been reservations about a lack of mobility being exploited in England.

Urged by both board and supporters to spend significantly before the transfer window closes tomorrow, the Arsenal manager turned to the German after failing with formal offers for England internationals Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill and an approach for Chelsea's unsettled Brazil international Alex.

Arsenal formally announced the £3m (Dh17.9m) signing of Park Chu-young yesterday, handing the South Korea captain their No 9 shirt. A €7.5m deal is in place for Andre Santos after Fenerbahce agreed to reduce their asking price for the Brazil left back, leaving Wenger to recruit a central midfielder today. As of yesterday a bid had yet to be made for Sochaux playmaker Marvina Martin, regarded by many as a potential like-for-like replacement for the departed Samir Nasri.

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