Arsenal close to signing defender, striker


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LONDON (AP) — Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is close to ending his search for a central defender and striker, saying Friday the club is working on deals to sign Shkodran Mustafi from Valencia and Lucas Perez from Deportivo La Coruna.

Wenger said he is "99 percent confident" of completing the signings before Europe's summer transfer window shuts late Wednesday.

Asked if bringing in Mustafi and Perez would conclude Arsenal's business in the transfer window, Wenger said: "We already have a big squad ... and we can't have any more players."

While the Manchester clubs have spent more than $400 million in the window, it's been another underwhelming few months for Arsenal, whose only major signing was Switzerland midfielder Granit Xhaka.

"It was a strange transfer market — I expected it to be easier than ever but it was more difficult than ever," Wenger said. "Not a lot has happened.

"It looks like when you meet other clubs and you have an English passport, you hit these prices which are very difficult to understand compared to the quality of the players."

Mustafi is a 24-year-old Germany center back and his arrival would solve an injury crisis, with Gabriel Paulista and Per Mertesacker currently sidelined with long-term problems.

Perez, 27, is a Spanish striker who scored 17 goals for Deportivo last season — the only time he has scored more than 10 goals in a single season. He likely will be a back-up to Olivier Giroud up front, with Wenger having failed with bids for Leicester's Jamie Vardy and Lyon's Alexandre Lacazette.

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