Arsenal are looking to end what has been a quiet January transfer window on a high, as reports suggest they have made an audacious bid to secure the services of FC Schalke’s Julian Draxler.
Wayne Veysey of Goal.com reports Arsenal is looking to have discussions with Draxler regarding a potential transfer:
Arsenal have been in dialogue with Schalke for a number of weeks but, contrary to reports that a fee for Draxler has already been agreed, it is understood that the two clubs are still some way apart in their valuations.
The Premier League leaders will attempt to broker a deal for Schalke sensation Draxler in a bid to sign him before Friday’s transfer deadline, and they will also open negotiations with Frankfurt over a move for right-back Sebastian Jung.
However, Schalke have denied that Arsenal has been in contact regarding Draxler:
Horst Heldt told Sky before the game that there are no talks re Julian Draxler and there have been no offers either.— Schalke UK news (@Schalke_UK) January 26, 2014
(John Cross of the Daily Mirror previously reported the Gunners have tested the German club's resolve with a €30 million offer for Draxler’s services, but it remains to be seen how Schalke will respond to a sum which falls short of the player’s reported £38 million release clause. According to Cross, that becomes active in the summer window.
Cross notes in his piece that the north London club are looking to bring the prodigious German to the Emirates during this window in an attempt to avoid fierce competition for his signature during the summer break.
These reports come after the reliable Jan Aage Fjortoft also claimed on Twitter that a fee had been agreed between the two clubs and any lingering discussions would be in regards to whether Draxler would join-up with Arsene Wenger’s side immediately or in the summer:
Re: Draxler I understand that Schalke and Arsenal have agreed a fee. If he will leave now I don't know. But this is latest info #afc— Jan Aage Fjortoft (@JanAageFjortoft) January 24, 2014
Wenger seemed in boisterous mood when he was asked about the deal on Friday (Jan. 24) insisting that talk of any bid is mere fabrication.
Per Sky Sports, the French boss stated “That is an illusion. There is nothing happening, honestly no.” He then went on to suggest that “we don't need to take players on the flanks—we have 17 players on the flanks”
Fjortoft, on the other hand insisted that Wenger failed to completely rule out any bid for the German talent:
Wenger in WeltAmSonntag about Draxler: - To be honest, I am not saying it won't happen. Quote from Friday. #AFC— Jan Aage Fjortoft (@JanAageFjortoft) January 26, 2014
The Premier League leaders certainly have a wealth of riches in that midfield area. But reports earlier in the window suggested that Wenger was looking to convert Draxler into a centre-forward per John Cross in the Daily Mirror, as he did with Robin Van Persie and Thierry Henry, both of whom initially arrived at the club as wide men.
If Wenger does have Draxler earmarked to play as a centre-forward, it may be a wise move to bring in the Schalke man as soon as possible.
Reports suggest that Wenger will be unsuccessful in his attempts to lure Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata to the club on a short-term loan deal, per ESPN, and that would leave him with just three senior centre-forwards in Olivier Giroud, Nicklas Bendtner and the untested Yaya Sanogo.
Draxler could provide ample back-up for Giroud and learn his trade as a centre-forward if that is indeed where Wenger sees his future. The German would also bolster Arsenal’s attacking midfield positions with even more quality and ridiculous depth.
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Should Arsenal go all out for Draxler in this window?
If Wenger was to spend big on Draxler in this window, he would certainly be investing in a very fine player. The 20-year-old has really stepped his game up this season, particularly in the Champions League, where he has scored some crucial goals for his side and caught the eye with some all-action performances.
Whilst he may currently be stylistically similar to players like Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla, and he could struggle to break into the Arsenal first XI initially, he would eventually develop into a mainstay of this Arsenal team for many years to come.
A late deal for Ozil in the final knockings of the summer window gave the Gunners a major boost during the early part of the campaign. Now they are fighting for trophies on three different fronts, Wenger might feel another ambitious, high calibre capture could give his squad further momentum to go on and secure at least one piece of silverware come the end of the season.