Davide Vagnati has claimed Torino were never close to signing Shkodran Mustafi on a free transfer before the former Arsenal defender joined Levante, via quotes by Calciomercato.
Mustafi had been a free agent since leaving Schalke at the end of a short-term contract in June. The German left Die Konigsblauen after failing to help the Veltins-Arena outfit avoid relegation from the Bundesliga. He started 11 of his 13 outings for the club, winning twice.
Schalke had originally signed Mustafi to a four-month deal in February after Arsenal agreed to terminate his £90k-a-week terms early. Mikel Arteta only called on the 29-year-old to play nine times last season before departing north London for North Rhine-Westphalia.
Mustafi has now found his next club, seven months on from leaving Arsenal, after agreeing a two-year contract with Levante. The mid-table La Liga outfit announced his arrival at the Estadio Ciudad de Valencia on Thursday night. He could make his debut under Paco Lopez against Rayo Vallecano on September 11, with Granotes 13th in the standings.
But before Mustafi joined Levante, Torino explored signing the defender who cost Arsenal £35m when signed from Valencia in 2016. Yet Toro Technical Director Vagnati claims the 20-cap international was never a priority for the Olympic Grande Torino Stadium natives.
“[Mustafi] has never been our priority and there has never been anything close,” Vagnati said. “We have six defenders and we have invested in a 2000 boy.”
Vagnati was referring to the arrival of David Zima from Slavia Prague, who cost Torino €5m (£4.5m). Mustafi will now contend with Oscar Duarte, Ruben Vezo and Rober Pier to be one of Lopez’s first-choices at Levante.
Another fresh start for Mustafi since Arsenal exit at Levante
Levante offers Mustafi the chance for another fresh start since Arsenal tore up his contract, after Torino overlooked a deal. The German was completely out of favour under Arteta last season, with just three Premier League appearances and starting zero.
Arteta also omitted the centre-back from each of his matchday squads in January before Mustafi joined Schalke on February 2. Where his fortunes failed to pick up, as the Veltins-Arena outfit dropped down to the second-tier for the first time since 1988.
Mustafi’s 2020/21 form with Arsenal and Schalke seemingly put Torino off signing the now Levante defender. Il Toro staved off relegation from Serie A last season by four-points, but sit 16th after two defeats in two games this term.