Arsenal have received a boost in their pursuit of Julian Draxler, with news that Schalke haven't ruled out a sale.
As reported by Massimo Marioni in the Metro, the Bundesliga club's sporting director Horst Heldt said:
I can’t exclude anything, I don’t know what other clubs are planning. I only know what happens in our club—and nothing happens at the moment, so we don’t bother with this. We are very calm with this thing.
That admission by Heldt indicates Schalke may not be able to resist a large bid from Arsenal, if Arsene Wenger decides to table an offer now rather than in the summer.
And coming into the final week of the transfer window, it is a significant movement in Arsenal's favour as they try to negotiate a price.
However, as reported by German football expert Raphael Honigstein, Schalke chairman Clemens Tonnies issued a sterner rebuttal:
Schalke chairman Tönnies: "There's no offer for Draxler at the moment. We don't want to sell him" (via @Bild)— Raphael Honigstein (@honigstein) January 27, 2014
As reported by Sky Sports, Draxler has a £37 million release clause written into his contract but that can only be activated in the summer. However, it is believed the club are keen to receive an offer that matches that value.
With Wenger notoriously keen to find value when he enters the transfer market, a compromise may take place which sees Arsenal pay a significant amount up front with the rest in instalments over time.
Although Draxler is currently injured, it would certainly suit Arsenal to tie up a deal now, as it would stave off the potential for another side to swoop in and sign the player from under the Gunners' noses in the summer.
Even if Draxler did cost upwards of £30 million, Wenger could be happy to have found some long-term value in the 20-year-old.
A versatile attacker, capable of playing as a No. 10 or out on the wing, reports have suggested that Arsenal would attempt to mould him into a traditional centre-forward, per John Cross in the Mirror.
Draxler has achieved a lot at a young age, making over 100 appearances for Schalke in the Bundesliga and Champions League, as well as playing 10 times for the German national side.
He is likely to travel to the World Cup in Brazil this summer, so his price tag is only likely to increase further.
Former Premier League footballer and Bundesliga expert Jan Aage Fjortoft believes a deal is most likely in the summer, although Bayern Munich's interest could be raised by then:
Re: Draxler - Has a meeting with Dr. Müller-Wohlfahrt tomorrow. Declared fit? - Some at Schalke says: He is off! - Others: Off in summer 1/2— Jan Aage Fjortoft (@JanAageFjortoft) January 27, 2014
Hard to get the whole picture now. I have always said "most likely in the summer". And "what do Bayern do?". Will keep on digging. 2/2— Jan Aage Fjortoft (@JanAageFjortoft) January 27, 2014
As shown by the purchase of Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid, Wenger is aware that he cannot rely on only signing talent within a restricted price structure when so many of Arsenal's rivals are spending more and more.
After the positive effect Ozil has had on Arsenal this season, Wenger must test Schalke's resolve by tabling a bid and pushing through a deal for one of the brightest young talents in the game.