Arsenal aim to seal a stunning £36 million deal for Schalke star Julian Draxler, the German forward who is desperate to move to the Emirates this month.
Sources in Germany on Friday night claimed Arsenal have agreed a fee with Schalke that would make Draxler the second most expensive player in Arsenal’s history and that negotiations with the player have already started.
Schalke could stipulate that they want to keep Draxler until the end of the season, but the 20-year-old is believed to be keen to move before the transfer window shuts.
Despite denials from Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger over the Draxler deal, it increasingly seems a matter of time until the Germany international arrives in north London.
Arsenal representatives travelled to Germany this week in the hope that an agreement for Draxler could be struck and it appears he may now be forcing the issue.
Wenger is prepared to wait until the summer to land Draxler if Schalke will not let him go now, particularly as the player is nursing an injury.
Draxler has a release clause in his Schalke contract set at £37 million that is effective from the summer, but the club are known to be in need of cash. Arsenal may well have accelerated their interest, fearing stiff competition at the end of the season.
Wenger broke Arsenal’s transfer record at the end of the summer window by paying £42.5 million to sign Mesut Özil from Real Madrid. The previous most expensive player was £15 million Andrey Arshavin.
Schalke are keen to re-sign midfielder Lewis Holtby from Tottenham, but have so far been unable to match the London club’s asking price.
Should Draxler move to London, then Schalke are likely to make an immediate bid to take Holtby, who has grown unhappy at Spurs, back to Germany as a quick-fix replacement.
Wenger is well aware that Arsenal need more attacking options, as he has largely relied on Olivier Giroud up front this season with Nicklas Bendtner providing back-up.
Theo Walcott’s injury has made Wenger’s need even greater, with Arsenal aiming to maintain their place at the top of the Premier League table. Wenger has seen that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has been tweaking his squad this month in preparation for a sustained challenge to Arsenal over the second half of the season. Manchester City’s form of late has been ominous for their rivals.
Should Schalke try to keep hold of Draxler until the summer, Wenger will consider short-term options to boost his srikeforce which include Barcelona’s Cristian Tello and Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata.
Wenger rejected claims he was in Spain to watch Tello, who could be available for loan, score a hat-trick against Levante this week, despite Spanish sources still insisting he was there. Tello can play wide or through the middle.