Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is known for his sometimes "coy" approach to questions from journalists when it comes to discussing possible transfers, and Friday's press conference was no exception.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s visit of Fulham to the Emirates, Wenger likened the rumour that German international Julian Draxler had visited the Arsenal training ground to somebody spotting an UFO, reports John Cross of the Mirror.
Wenger denies Draxler has been spotted at #afc training ground. "It's a bit like a UFO - some see them, some don't."— John Cross (@johncrossmirror) January 17, 2014
Arsenal have been strongly linked with a move for the Schalke star, reports James Dickenson of the Express, in a move worth £37 million. The German international is currently injured but is expected to be back by March, reported the Metro.
Arsenal’s title challenge could be derailed after injuries to key players in the last month have left them short. The Gunners remain first in the league but have had their position tailed closely by big-spenders Manchester City and Chelsea.
Recent injuries to Theo Walcott and Nicklas Bendtner have left the Gunners light in attack, and Draxler may be the solution to the shortage.
But with Frenchman Olivier Giroud back from injury, Wenger warned that Arsenal do not need to buy, reported the Metro. The big centre-forward scored in the Jan. 13 victory over Aston Villa at Villa Park.
Arsenal have struggled for goals in the league this season, scoring 41, despite topping the league. Challengers Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool all have better resources in that department, hence a bid for Draxler wouldn’t be unlikely.
Draxler, though similar to Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil, may be deployed up front alongside Giroud if Wenger decides to change from his 4-3-3 system. Were he to sign now, he would find it difficult to replace any of Arsenal's creative midfield, which has rotated so well this year.
Despite Wenger's insistence that Draxler has not visited the ground, footballer-turned-journalist Jan Aage Fjortoft says that Draxler visited the ground last year:
CONFIRMATION! Draxler and Schalke trained at Arsenal's TrainingGround 7.11.13, day after Chelsea- Schalke "Impressed by facilities" #AFC— Jan Aage Fjortoft (@JanAageFjortoft) January 17, 2014
Hello Wenger!!!! UFO seen at Arsenal's TrainingGround 7.11.13. Did you watch it? Did you talk to the Alien? #AFC 😄😄😄— Jan Aage Fjortoft (@JanAageFjortoft) January 17, 2014
Earlier this week, defender and German international Per Mertesacker said that Draxler would be welcome at the Emirates should the Gunners make a bid for the young German, reported Stephan Uersfeld of ESPN via Spox.com.
Mertesacker—who along with Mesut Ozil, Lukas Podolski and Serge Gnabry—is part of a mini German contingent at the club that is currently thriving, and Draxler would fit in perfectly with that.
It must be noted that despite the rumours, Wenger did not deny the interest. Speaking in his press conference today he said, “I am curious as well, of course I am curious it is my nature," reported Dickenson in the Express.
Two players who are close to signing currently play at the club. Wenger confirmed that along with Mertesacker, they were also in negotiations with defender Bacary Sagna, whose contract expires in the summer, per Amy Lawrence in the Guardian.
"We are making good progress and hopefully we can announce something soon," he said of the negotiations, per Lawrence.
Wenger, now in his 18th year at the club, would be going against his principles should Draxler be signed this month. The Frenchman actually wants the January transfer window to be "scrapped completely," reported Martyn Herman for Reuters.