Arsenal's 2013-14 season may have begun in hopeful fashion, but the last few weeks at the Emirates Stadium will have left fans wanting, with this summer's transfer window again the next opportunity for improvement.
Having won just four of their last 10 matches across all competitions and slipping from Premier League title contenders to uncertain top-four candidates, Arsene Wenger's side are in need of a big boost.
It's fortunate, therefore, that the Gunners continue to be linked with some big names in the transfer market, this week's latest rumours and speculation coming from Germany and Spain.
After becoming very closely linked with the youngster's services in January, Arsenal are once again thought to be in the hunt to sign Schalke wunderkind Julian Draxler.
However, the Miners' sporting director Horst Heldt remained adamant that his club will strive to hang on to the playmaker's services when speaking to German television channel Sky90 (h/t Metro's Hannah Duncan) earlier this week:
I believe that Draxler will stay with us. I’d prefer not to comment on all those rumours. Look at what happened with Manuel Neuer. He was 100 per cent convinced that he would never join FC Bayern but, after having played as a pro for five years, time made him change his opinion.
Heldt's is a refreshingly honest outlook on the matter, and WhoScored point out the kind of form Draxler has shown to make him so in demand of late:
Wenger's creative reserves are already abundant when boasting a fully fit squad, but that has proven difficult for the Frenchman to come by in recent months and even the last couple of seasons.
As a result, one might understand why the Arsenal helmsman is keen to add to his German ranks, which already includes Mesut Ozil, Per Mertesacker, Lukas Podolski and Serge Gnabry.
One of the lesser-known faces to have become linked with an Emirates Stadium switch in recent months, but Josip Drmic's form at Nurnberg has nonetheless made him a wanted man according to recent reports.
In fact, so deep is the Gunners' apparent interest that Sky Deutschland claimed earlier in the week that the forward's wife was in London looking for new accommodation, presumably to facilitate an Arsenal transfer.
However, talking to German newspaper Bild (h/t Sky Sports) after those rumours emerged, Drmic himself moved quickly to point out the stories as false:
At the moment I am single and there is no one house hunting in London. What will happen in the future, I don't know. Any boy dreams about playing for Arsenal.
Norwegian pundit Jan-Aage Fjortoft has even gone one step further, alleging that German legend Lothar Matthaus informed him the move is already sealed:
Arsenal's case is helped further by the fact that Drmic seems so keen on playing for the North London club and, according to the Sky Sports report, may have a release clause of less than £5 million.
Another old face re-emerging as one of Arsenal's apparent interests is Real Madrid youngster Alvaro Morata, whom John Cross of the Mirror states is ready to be sold by Los Merengues—but on the condition that a buy-back clause is inserted in his contract.
Cross writes that Real are looking to sell their striker for a fee of £8 million and could seek to lure him back in two years' time at a fixed fee.
Back in January, Wenger was quoted by the Press Association (h/t the Guardian) as voicing how unlikely it was that a winter move for Morata would come about:
Nothing has changed because we are open to a possible solution and if something interesting turns up we will do it. It could be a loan as well yes. We are not in talks, with Real about anybody.
The transfer market is a distraction that for me is not welcome. I think it would be much better that there is no transfer market at all in January and the team starts and finishes with the same players would be fair unless you have big injuries.
However, there now stands the chance that Wenger's mind will be more open to a summer move, where pinching the talent of another side may not be quite as tiresome.
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