Julian Draxler Transfer Saga Illustrates Arsenal's Shortfalls in the Market

Joseph ZuckerFeatured Columnist IVFebruary 20, 2017

GELSENKIRCHEN, GERMANY - MARCH 12:  Julian Draxler of Schalke looks dejected during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg match between FC Schalke 04 and Galatasaray AS at Veltins-Arena on March 12, 2013 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany.  (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
Lars Baron/Getty Images

After the Mesut Ozil transfer, it looked like Arsenal had turned a corner in the transfer market. Then came the failed attempt to sign Julian Draxler.

The BBC's David Ornstein reported that the Gunners thought Schalke's asking price for the 20-year-old midfielder was too high:

There was talk of a £37-million release clause, but Schalke sporting director Horst Heldt said that any such trigger is now nonexistent, per David Hytner of The Guardian.

"That agreement was only in place for last year. From now on, the transfer fee is up for negotiation," Heldt said.

Draxler always seemed like a long shot to move to Arsenal in January. He's one of Germany's most gifted prospects, and you don't often see talent of this quality moving in the winter window. His transfer fee was going to be inflated, and Schalke would be loathe to sell one of their best players as they try and get into the top four of the Bundesliga.

Club chairman Clemens Tonnies told Bild that Arsenal hadn't made a bid and that Schalke weren't prepared to sell, per German football journalist Raphael Honigstein:

Maybe this is a topic that Arsenal can approach during the summer, and the January push was more of an exploratory mission. They'll have more time to work out a deal after May, and, according to Hytner, Draxler is under the impression that the release clause will go back into effect.

However, you can't help but feel that the Gunners have made a bit of a mess of this prospective transfer. In a way, it mirrors their failed pursuit of Luis Suarez in the summer.

Clint Hughes/Associated Press

As everyone remembers, Arsenal bid £40,000,000 plus £1 for the Liverpool striker thinking that would be enough to meet some supposed release clause and pry him away from Anfield. It wasn't, and the club ended up looking a bit foolish as a result.

In the end, they refused to budge from that £40,000,001 bid, and Suarez has been one of the best strikers in the world.

It seems to be the way they have operated regarding Draxler.

Rarely will a young player be sold for less than what his previous release clause was listed. If you didn't buy him when you could've for £37 million, the price is only going to rise from that point forward.

And yet, the Gunners seem surprised that a 20-year-old midfielder would command such a fee, when everybody could see what it would take to get Draxler out of Gelsenkirchen.

Some may believe that after the club signed Ozil, Arsenal had put their past transfer issues behind them. No longer would the Gunners let a couple million pounds be the difference between landing and losing a talented player.

Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

However, you have to consider the outside factors regarding that transfer. Real Madrid were desperate to sell Ozil after purchasing Gareth Bale. The financial windfall would help to negate some of Bale's massive transfer fee, while offloading Ozil would avoid any kind of selection gridlock in the midfield.

Arsenal found themselves in the right place at the right time, and paying £42.5 million for a player of that quality is arguably a bargain in today's transfer market.

Everything fell into place perfectly. Not all transfer business is this easy.

In the newest edition of the Football Weekly podcast, Honigstein discussed the soap opera that has become the Draxler transfer. (Note: Skip ahead to about the 16:20 mark.)

According to Honigstein, the stories about the Gunners' transfer negotiator Dick Law are about how he will often show up to clubs from which he's looking to buy players and leave a first and final bid. If that bid isn't accepted, then he's off to somewhere else.

While this can be a useful strategy under some circumstances, it's a terrible one to use with clubs who don't have any pressure to sell a player.

With the massive kit deal the Gunners signed with Puma, their spending power only increases. But they'll have to change the way they conduct business if they want to get any business done.