Schalke attacking midfielder Julian Draxler has emerged as a top transfer target for Arsenal during the winter window. Time is running out on Arsene Wenger to strike a deal, however, and the German club is growing confident he will stay.
ESPN.co.uk passed along comments made by Konigsblauen sporting director Horst Heldt, who states the club is not interested in moving the 20-year-old rising star. He also notes Draxler hasn't personally asked to get moved, either:
We are happy to have such a world class player in our lines. I am very convinced that Draxler will be playing for us in the Rueckrunde [second half of the season] but most probably beyond that. We are not interested in letting Julian leave, and he has also not approached us about a transfer.
Heldt went on the provide further details about the situation. He said there was a release clause in place for last year only, meaning they can ask any price for him now. Furthermore, no meeting with representatives from Arsenal was set:
I checked my office if someone was waiting for me, but nobody was there. Of course, there are always other clubs interested in him, and should someone make a serious offer for him, then we as a club have to professionally consider that. That does not only apply to Julian Draxler, but to every other player.
The last part of his remarks does seemingly leave the door open for a potential deal if Arsenal are willing to make an eye-popping offer. That's the case for most players around the globe, though, as the Schalke sporting director made clear to mention.
Which club will Draxler be with after the deadline?
For Arsenal, the public stance by the German side is a setback. The Gunners have been looking for ways to provide a boost to their midfield for the stretch run, and it appeared Draxler was a terrific fit after a strong first half of the Bundesliga season.
The update from Heldt comes after a rush of reports pointing toward an agreement.
John Cross of the Daily Mirror reported the clubs were involved in heavy negotiations and the Premier League club was confident of finishing the big-money deal before the deadline:
Arsene Wenger is on the brink of sealing a deadline-beating £30 million move for Julian Draxler.
Wenger is confident of landing Arsenal's No. 1 target before Friday's 11 p.m. cut-off after lengthy negotiations throughout Wednesday.
Of course, it's always important to note Schalke could be using the public denial as a tactic to push the transfer fee even higher. There's pressure on Wenger to make an addition or two over the next few days. Making it sound like Draxler is slipping away will amplify that.
Or it could just be a case of Schalke trying to keep one of the most productive young players in Europe for as long as possible. WhoScored.com illustrates exactly how good Draxler has played this season:
Julian Draxler: Of the U21s in Europe's top 5 leagues, only Paul Pogba has a higher rating than Draxler (7.76) this season #S04— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) January 30, 2014
Arsenal could definitely use a player of that caliber as they battle Manchester City and Chelsea atop the Premier League table. But it sounds like Schalke are ready to play hardball and might just end up keeping the talented Draxler.
Without an impact addition, the challenge of keeping pace with an in-form Manchester City squad will become even tougher for the Gunners.
Only those working behind the scenes know whether Draxler is still a realistic option to fill that void with the deadline looming.