Valencia president Pitarch explains why both Arsenal and Valencia are playing hardball over Mustafi

Yesterday Arsenal used BBC reporter David Ornstein to announce that they had a great desire to buy Mustafi, but they didn’t want to pay the price asked by Valencia because they want to have money left over in case a striker falls from heaven and begs Arsenal for shelter. Arsenal also used Ornstein to suggest that Arsenal have other options if the Mustafi deal doesn’t get done.

Valencia countered this morning with two stories: one which suggests Liverpool are willing to pay for Mustafi and another with direct quotes from Valencia director of sport Garcia Pitarch. The former story is being widely dismissed but the latter story, the interview with Pitarch is being used in England to suggest that Valencia need to sell Mustafi in order to stay compliant with Financial Fair Play laws.

I found the source article in Superdeporte, it is in Spanish and I am going to reproduce the relevant quote here in Spanish. As some of you know, I have been studying Spanish for a year now and I am proficient enough to translate the article.

¿El Valencia necesita todavía hacer algún traspaso más importante, como el de Mustafi por ejemplo?

“Estamos por encima del control financiero, esa es la realidad, a día de hoy los cuatro jugadores fichados no pueden ser inscritos y necesitamos reducir el control en un importe significativo para poder inscribir a los jugadores y poder firmar un central que es un objetivo prioritario en el caso de que salga alguno de los central que tenemos. Obviamente si no salen no podrmeof irmar (this is a typo in the original text, they meant “poder firmar” which means “to sign”) no solo por el limite sino porque no seria lógico tener 5 o 6 centrales. Tenemos que seguir reduciendo si hay alguna salida de algún central hay que firmar algún central. La capacidad es muy limitada. Hemos firmado un jugador libre, otro cedido con opción de compra, nani en unas condiciones muy buenas y Medrán también porque el Madrid así lo ha permitido y porque el jugador así lo ha decidido”.

In the quote Pitarch admits that Valencia are over the amount allowed by Financial Fair Play. Because of that they have four players they have signed but cannot register. So, they either have to reduce costs or sell, even without selling Mustafi. But they are also in trouble because if they sell Mustafi, for example, they will need to buy another center back and still reduce costs. The rest of the interview is Pitarch talking about if they don’t sell Mustafi, they won’t buy another CB and that they have already made some quality moves for example, he really likes the deal they got for Nani, which cost them £7.2m and is probably the reason they are over FFP.

Valencia it seems has a huge problem. They need to sell Mustafi to generate money to get back into compliance with FFP, but they have to sell him for enough to cover FFP and bring in another center back. This explains why they are holding out on Arsenal. Their FFP situation also explains why Arsenal are not interested in paying over the odds to bring Mustafi in. It will be interesting to see who blinks first.

Valencia was in a similar situation with Oatamendi last year and both Oatamendi and Mustafi had or have a €50m release clause. Man City paid £34m for Oatamendi (part of that was debt relief for Valencia because they owed City money from the transfer of Negredo) and that transfer is probably the reason why Valencia is trying to get at least £30m again for their man.

It’s interesting that in recent weeks the Arsenal have been making it public that they don’t do transfers in the same way that Man City and clubs like that do them. Gazidis’ statements about how Arsenal can’t do transfers like other clubs might not have been intended for Arsenal supporters but instead as messages to the Valencia hierarchy.

“We’re making progress in what is a fiercely competitive world, against competitors that have the capability to spend far more money than we do. We’re doing it by being very, very disciplined; spending money where we believe it makes a difference, but also giving young players a chance and believing in ourselves and our values.”

Arsenal are also leaking stories that they are interested in other center backs. Specifically, Atletico Madrid center back Giminez. Though that story isn’t gaining much traction because Atletico are asking for £40m and Arsenal have made it clear that they will not spend that amount on a center back this window.



  1. Just pay the 30 mil ffs. Mahrez is confirmed hes staying at Leicester, damn this window is so frustrating!


    I will simply say, that I’m still not confident Arsenal will get both a CB and CF in this window. AND this just proves that Arsenal were “dallying” in the window, but gives a reason why. So, it’s not like the two contradict each other.

    We have simply been given new facts and I am reporting them.


  3. You’re not commenting on Mahrez renewed contract, Tim? Better start following the Brandt bandwagon, then. 🙂

  4. Arsenal cannot spend £40m on a striker so spending it on a defender is impossible. The lot of them should be in the dock for fraud because they have a lot of money compared to most teams in the premiership yet they spend the least on transfers. They continue to behave like a tiny club by buying youngsters worth £2m.

    I am getting the opinion that they may not even make there favoured 4th spot this time around looking at the way other teams have strengthened, Ozil and sanchez may not sign a new contract, Wenger will abandon a ship he sank, and Arsenal will end up in the championship in 2 seasons.

    You behave like a small club you will eventually become one.

    1. Wenger will never abandon “the ship he sank.” Also, Wenger is definitely signing a two-year deal because that’s the only way Sanchez and Ozil will renew their contracts. Unless they start seeing through his bs.

  5. Thing is that we have LESS leverage deeper into a transfer window, not more. Holding out to the last waiting for the other guy to blink is fine if the start of the season correlated to the close of the window, but it doesn’t. It is what made is pay 16m for an injury-prone, goal-shy Manu U reject named Danny Welbeck, when what we required at the time (and still require) is a player several classes above.

    The members of the Valencia hierarchy have TVs. They would have noted the result against Liverpool and seen that we need Mustafi even more badly than anyone thought.And fan pressure is at fever pitch, hence the strategic leak to Ornstein.

    Arsenal are in a worse negotiating position. We are more likely to pay closer to their price than ours than we were 3 weeks ago.

  6. A little off topic but Valencia have to sell in order to meet FFP regulations but ManShitty can meet FFP by laundering their owner’s money through an over the top stadium and kit sponsorship. Sheesh! And Arsenal, who have the largest cash reserves in world football, are squeezing them over £5-10M so we can land that mythical world class striker. The great thing is that if we do relent and pay a little over the odds, we have a ready made excuse as to why we couldn’t afford that world class striker.

    1. No, Valencia hae to mee the FFP regulations of the spanish FA, not UEFA’s, that’s the diference, they’ve been in debt for a long time now.

  7. Great article Tim.

    One of the reasons I like this site is your willingness to come at things from different, sometimes contrary, perspectives. Your willingness to change your mind, or amend your point of view as information becomes available is a positive in my book. Presenting those two statements as messages to the respective clubs, and how that would explain the unwillingness of both clubs to budge certainly adds some clarity to proceedings.

    Hopefully someone blinks soon.

  8. “they didn’t want to pay the price asked by Valencia because they want to have money left over in case a striker falls from heaven and begs Arsenal for shelter”

    lol I died laughing!

  9. Sometimes I worry that Arsenal have cribbed their transfer policy from an old Tom Vu infomercial about targeting “distressed properties”… scan the obituaries in newspapers to learn about homes of recently deceased and low-ball the grieving families, or find out about recent divorces and take advantage of the acrimony and get a good price on a house you can then flip for profit.

    Is this what we do? Didn’t Malaga sell us Cazorla because they needed cash? Real sold us Ozil because they needed money for Bale? Barca sold us Sanchez because they needed money for Suarez? Do we simply sniff out teams that are approaching desperation to sell and then Tom Vu them into a bargain price? I wonder then how much this Mustafi dude actually fills our needs vs. he fits the profile of being a decent player from a distressed club?

    1. Or, Wenger has become the modern day Don Quixote fighting the evil monstrosity of the transfer market, while getting more and more detached from realities of modern football.

  10. I am scared that I will smash something every time I hear Arsenal are “trying” to make a deal happen. It is as if we are the most clueless club in the world. It is either we are working on a budget or looking to fill key positions. If we are working on a budget, there are hundreds of players to choose from. And if we are looking for the best player to suit our needs, then let us fucking pay what the market dictates for said player. What is so hard in doing this???? AAAAAAAAAARRGGGGGHHHH

  11. For a club in Arsenal’s position I can’t imagine £5-10m extra would break the bank or preclude the signing of striker. Much as I respect Swiss Ramble’s analysis there’s a danger of regarding the 100m figure as some kind of unbreakable hard limit. If we really needed 10m I’m sure we could raise 10m.

    The situation with Mustafi is a precarious one. He isn’t the only player Valencia have to sell and we aren’t the only buyers in town. It all rides on how Wenger weighs the situation and how quickly he can pull the trigger. Despite how far along negotiations seem I think this could collapse at the drop of a hat.

    1. That part about the other players is true. They are currently refusing to sell Paco Alacer to Real Madrid.

      1. Barca too reportedly. But Alcacer is their centrepiece striker. Having already loaned out Negredo and Piatti, selling Alcacer now would be like us selling Giroud. A gutshot. And good luck finding an affordable striker to replace him. No wonder they’re refusing. Barca/Real could offer a player exchange in mitigation.

        Apropos of nothing I wonder how much not-in-the-squad Joel Campbell is worth? £10m maybe?

    2. I agree with what you’re saying Rusty.

      I’m more accepting than some of Arsenals transfer shenanigans but it’s hard to believe that, even ignoring the way transfers are often paid in yearly installments and not all at once, Arsenal couldn’t scrounge an extra 10 or 20 million from somewhere if they really had to.

      Unless financial fair play comes into it. I know that annual losses are more strictly calculated for teams that don’t have just one owner. From what I remember, teams like City and Chelsea who have one owner are allowed more leeway regarding annual debt than a team like Arsenal who have the Kroenke/Usmanov thing going on.

      To be honest I thought the financial fair play thing had died a death.

      1. I didn’t know that about joint shareholding and FFP.
        We were pretty frugal last year so surely we wouldn’t be tipping the limit unless we went absolutely huge. Griezmann huge.

        After Wenger campaigned for FFP so strongly, how ironic would it be if it bit us harder than it did the financial dopers.

  12. I really appreciate Tim’s reporting here. These deals have so many variables and we now know some specifics regarding why it’s been difficult to get this one over the line.

    BUT these situations are really so laughably avoidable if we were bloody minded in purpose and determination.

    That is not and never has been Wenger’s Arsenal and this transfer period shows how he can be such an anachronistic manager.

    His ossification is just about complete. All that remains is the actual statue outside the stadium.

  13. “fresh spring in a briny wasteland”. that’s why i love this site. i will find a way to use that expression in a conversation before the week is over. thanks, greg.

    maybe i was wrong when i said gazidis was posing for his colleagues. that’s a maybe. thanks for that insight, tim.

    the bottom line is this and i said it yesterday, valencia need that money! there doesn’t seem to be a deal here for arsenal. the later this drags on, the less time valencia will have to secure a replacement, meaning the less likely they’d be willing to sell. arsenal can’t afford to not have this deal done. it’s already potentially cost arsenal 3 points. how much more gambling can arsenal afford to do?

    one fear i have is that someone comes in and hijacks this deal like chelsea did with juan mata due to arsenal’s perceived dallying. we’ll see.

  14. More interesting to me than the vagaries of transfer/no transfer (which is always a game of assumptions and competing agendas filtered through reporters and social media) is how good Mustafi really is. When everyone is fit and available, does he start ahead of Gabriel and Mertesacker? What makes a good defence is not just the quality of individuals but also the quality of partnerships, and Koscielny/Mertesacker has been our best combination for several seasons now in no small part due to qualities that compensate for each others’ flaws. Does Mustafi change that? And if so, whom does he partner?

    Not having a settled back four is one of the most difficult problems for a team to overcome, and it gives me great worry that we have such little stability that area right now. Mustafi would have little familiarity with our system or with the premier league (despite spending a stint with Everton as a teen), no rapport with the other players, and no chance to have developed a partnership with another CB in preseason. In Mustafi’s case he would at least have Spanish fullbacks to work with and he shares Albanian heritage with the player most often receiving his outlet passes, Granit Xhaka. But a back four is a symbiotic organism that operates on feel and trust just as much as training, and there would be an inevitable vetting period complete with blown offsides, errant passes and miscommunication even if Mustafi has superior quality.

    Speaking of his quality, scouting reports highlight aerial power and reading of the game as strengths, while he plays for a Valencia team often on the front foot. His erstwhile partner Otamendi it seems was the more aggressive of the pair while Mustafi played a sweeper role behind him. A natural Per Mertesacker replacement, then? A quick Sqawka comparison reveals that while he passes with lower accuracy than Mert (81% vs 89%) his passes are more ambitious, traveling an average of 4 meters further. He makes interceptions and tackles twice as often as the BFG, but is much more prone to fouling and getting booked. Something scouting reports and statistics cannot pick out in a defender is the fluidity of his hips and his ability when isolated against smaller, quicker forwards, which as we know is the achilles heel of the current Arsenal captain.

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