Gunners to splash £36m on Draxler
Arsenal are closing in on a deal for Schalke star Julian Draxler as Arsene Wenger targets two new signings before the transfer window shuts.
Negotiations over Draxler were progressing well last night and Arsenal are also poised to make a bid to land Cristian Tello on loan from Barcelona after Aaron Ramsey suffered an injury setback.
Wenger has received a boost over Draxler after the German was told yesterday by Dr Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt that he should be fit to resume playing in seven days' time. Draxler is recovering from a ruptured tendon, which it was feared would keep him out until March, but the 20-year-old is close to a return.
That could push the Arsenal manager into pushing a deal through, particularly as Ramsey is poised to miss Arsenal's difficult run of games next month after a setback in his recovery from a thigh problem.
Jack Wilshere is unlikely to be back from his ankle injury in time to face Crystal Palace this weekend and Mathieu Flamini is suspended for four games after being sent off in Tuesday night's draw at Southampton.
Wenger believes that he can convert Draxler into a striker, but the fact that he is comfortable in the centre of midfield would give Arsenal plenty of cover for Ramsey, Wilshere and Flamini.
Despite denying he was in Spain last week, Wenger is also interested in signing 22-year-old Tello on loan from Barcelona for the rest of the season to give Arsenal more attacking options and pace.
Theo Walcott will miss the rest of the season after knee surgery and Tello is a very similar player to the winger. The Spaniard's main asset is his pace and he can play out wide or through the middle. It is unclear whether Barca will let Tello leave.
Serge Gnabry has been filling in for Walcott, but Wenger is wary of placing too much of a burden on the 18-year-old for the rest of the campaign.
Sources in Germany claim that a £36m fee between Arsenal and Schalke has been provisionally agreed for Draxler. The structure of the deal and the scheduling of different payments, including how much the Gunners would pay up front, had been sticking points.
Arsenal are unlikely to face any problems agreeing personal terms with Draxler if they can reach agreement with Schalke. The player earns just under £50,000 a week and could expect a wage rise to £80,000.
Dr Muller-Wohlfahrt conducted the medical for Mesut Ozil in Germany in the summer and the Gunners could take advice from him again. Wenger has also looked at loan deals for Real Madrid's Alvaro Morata and Juventus forward Mirko Vucinic, while Blaise Matuidi, the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder, is also on Arsenal's radar.
Reserve goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski may be allowed to join Schalke as part of a deal for Draxler. The Pole has already been lined up as a summer signing by the Bundesliga club, with his contract ending in the summer.
Lukas Podolski is to seek talks over his future after becoming frustrated at spending too much time on the substitutes' bench.
Wenger ideally wants to boost his squad before February, when Arsenal face a gruelling fixture list of games against Crystal Palace, Liverpool, Manchester United, Liverpool in the FA Cup, Bayern Munich in the Champions League and Sunderland.
Midfielder Mikel Arteta admitted that run of games would be vital to Arsenal's hopes of ending their long trophy drought that is now approaching nine years. "The schedule now is going to be really busy," he said.
"We have some really tough games coming up in the next two weeks and we have to deal with it and do our best. We have many options in midfield, but that's one area where we've had a problem in recent weeks.
"We have had many injuries, we have lost Theo for a long time, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is just coming back. Too many. Rosicky has been out for a few weeks with a nose injury.
"We are a bit short at the moment, but, hopefully, we can get people back.
"Every squad has to deal with these situations and, of course, we have to cope with these injuries. There is a long way to go. Everyone is going to drop points and, hopefully, we will be fine." (© Daily Telegraph, London)