There is no doubt Arsenal had an interest in Schalke midfielder Julian Draxler, per James Dickenson in the Express, but in what was one of the longest transfer sagas of the January transfer window, the Gunners missed out on their target.
According to John Cross in The Daily Mirror, a deal was put in place for Draxler to move to the Emirates in January, but Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger pulled the plug on the deal:
There was no delegation, there was no fee agreed, but talks were held and ultimately Wenger did not feel Draxler was worth the money. The money was available to him, he just didn't see the young German as a £37 million player - yet.
But Arsenal must continue their pursuit of the German international after Schalke chairman Clemens Toennies has ruled out the prospect of Julian Draxler moving to German and European champions Bayern Munich, reports Sport1 (via ESPN).
We will not be able to keep a super talent like Julian in the long run... [but] I can rule out 100% that Julian Draxler wants to go to Bayern.
Arsenal were left looking rather stupid when the deal for Draxler fell through. It was thought that Arsenal’s overtures for the player were halted after Bayern Munich tried to scupper the deal, as reported by ex-footballer-turned-pundit Jan Aage Fjortoft:
My view. Based on my information. Bayern Munich managed to stop the Draxler-deal by saying "we take him in the summer".— Jan Aage Fjortoft (@JanAageFjortoft) February 1, 2014
But despite Pep Guardiola's side having a direct impact on Draxler's potential Arsenal move, the latest comments by Toennies has given the Gunners a new lease of life in their pursuit of the playmaker, an opportunity they should not miss.
Draxler is the type of player who would have increased Arsenal’s attacking options and eased the growing injury crisis at the club. Instead, Arsenal go into the most crucial period of the season looking light in attack.
This season has shown that the shrewd acquisition of a marquee player like Mesut Ozil can have a big impact on the club, the fans and the dressing-room. Ozil has been instrumental in Arsenal's recent renaissance and the signing of Draxler would send a message to their rivals.
Fans last week bemoaned the loan signing of Kim Kallstrom—the Swedish international midfielder with over 100 caps—who is now injured and will miss up to six weeks, per Cross.
Kallstrom, who was brought in to cover for the suspended Mathieu Flamini and the injured Aaron Ramsey, wasn't the type of player Arsenal actually needed.
If money is the issue, Arsene Wenger must realise that the transfer market is not only based on quality but potential. If Draxler isn’t worth the £37 million now, you can bet he will be in the future.
Wenger has an eye for talent, and his curiosity over the German midfielder is surely due to the fact the Frenchman has seen something special in him.
This is the same manager who spotted Patrick Vieira, turned Thierry Henry into a striker, exploited the talents of Cesc Fabregas, and more recently, has seen the rise of young German winger Serge Gnabry.
But previous procrastinating over transfers has meant the current Premier League leaders have missed out on a host of talents, a feat they should not be repeated with Draxler.
In 2012, Henry Winter of The Telegraph reported that Wenger was interested in Eden Hazard, but was put off by the price-tag. “The transfer price was fixed, because he had a clause, so everybody was at the same level,” said Wenger.
As far back as 2011, Wenger had ruled out a move for the Belgian playmaker, writes Richard Clarke on Arsenal.com, who ended up signing for Chelsea in 2012.
The same procrastination cost Arsenal in their pursuit of Juan Mata, writes David Kent for the Daily Mail, when Arsenal were interested in signing him in 2011, and this season in the summer transfer window.
Despite Schalke’s claims that Bayern won’t be signing Draxler, it would be wise for Wenger to make sure they get their man to avoid history repeating itself.
Draxer is a ready-made replacement for any of Arsenal’s three attacking midfield berths. He can play on either wing or in the playmaker role behind the striker, now adopted by Mesut Ozil.
But it was Wenger’s hope that the player could be turned into a striker, in the Robin van Persie mould, says Cross. That positional change makes sense. Despite being top, the Gunners have struggled for goals.
Main striker Olivier Giroud has been in fine form for Arsenal, but he hasn’t been prolific on the goals front. The French striker has managed 10 goals in 22 league games this season, per ESPN. In comparison, according to ESPN, Yaya Toure has managed to score 12 goals in 23 games from midfield for Manchester City.
What Arsenal needed to address this January is the over-reliance on Giroud and the signing of Draxler would have helped that.
Come the summer, Arsenal will either end another season trophy-less or might just pip the riches of City and Chelsea to the Premier League title. Either way, the right message Arsenal want to send to their rivals is that the Gunners are not in the title race by fluke.
Beating Bayern to Draxler's signature will send that message loud and clear.