Arsenal's reported hunt for Julian Draxler is over, and Arsene Wenger insists it never truly got started.
Update from Friday, Jan. 31
Wenger ruled out the arrival of Draxler in January during Friday's press conference. The Mirror's John Cross reported:
#afc Wenger rules Draxler out in this window— John Cross (@johncrossmirror) January 31, 2014
ESPN provides Wenger's full quotes:
Draxler deal is not active. Anti-climax? I don't know what a climax is. There is always hope. It is superficial and artificial. [The] Draxler situation has been created by the newspapers, not by me. Nothing is happening on that front. He will stay at Schalke.
Simon Jones of the Daily Mail had claimed earlier on Friday morning that a deal remains possible even though there's plenty of work to do before Jan. 31's transfer deadline:
The clubs [are] haggling over the structure of the payments—with Schalke demanding a large percentage of the fee be paid up front.
Club doctor Gary O'Driscoll is on standby to fly to Germany to complete Draxler's medical ahead of Friday's deadline.
Will Arsenal sign Julian Draxler by the end of Jan. 31, 2014?
Schalke sporting director Horst Heldt is "convinced" Draxler will remain at the Veltins-Arena for this season and possibly beyond, per Stephan Uersfeld of ESPN FC.
Wenger now finds himself in a difficult situation in regard to the transfer. An alternate Cross report suggests the Frenchman would only sanction £30 million for the attacking midfielder, but the Gunners boss needs to weigh up how lofty Schalke's valuation really is.
Draxler will likely become one of the summer transfer window's hottest properties. Elite clubs will surely rival Arsenal for his signature at the end of the season—one of which is sure to meet Schalke's demands.
If Wenger does fail to sign Draxler now, Arsenal fans could be forced to rue the player they could have had across the next decade.
While £37 million is a lot, Draxler is likely to repay this as a long-term investment. It is always handy to have money in the bank, but it's even more useful to have a player making a difference on the pitch.
Draxler has already shown he can play at the top level. His three goals in this season's Champions League and excellent run of performances in the Bundesliga, per WhoScored.com, underline a starlet who has the confidence to take on anyone.
Joachim Low seems likely to to include the player in his squad for the World Cup, suggesting further interest could be generated during this year's Brazilian tournament.
Jan Aage Fjortoft, former Sheffield United player and Germany-based pundit, believes a fee has been agreed:
Re: Draxler "Fee agreed - deal not done- will leave most likely in summer" Was my understanding - Is my understanding. Fee not obstacle— Jan Aage Fjortoft (@JanAageFjortoft) January 31, 2014
Although paying for potential is always a risk, Draxler's current qualities place him among the best young midfielders in the world. He is still maturing and needs to develop further, but all the signs suggest the versatile player will become a world-class force.
This may be Arsenal's only chance to sign the coveted German. Should Wenger fail to unleash the cash, Draxler could become one of the manager's biggest regrets.