Title race could be lost if Arsene Wenger misses out on Julian Draxler
Schalke star Julian Draxler remains top of Arsenal's wishlist. Why is Arsene Wenger pursuing player and will he make difference in title race? Matt Law has the answers
Why are Arsenal trying to sign Draxler?
Manager Arsene Wenger looked at a deal for Draxler in the summer and has been following the German for some time.
The main attraction of Draxler is the fact he can play pretty much anywhere in midfield or across the attack, and can be moulded into anything Wenger wants him to be. Draxler can pick a pass, beat a man and also gets into good goalscoring positions. He has, however, scored just once in the Bundesliga this season.
With Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere struggling with injuries, Draxler could step straight into Arsenal’s midfield before potentially being converted to a forward.
Although he is not an out-and-out forward, Draxler would give Wenger plenty of attacking options should striker Olivier Giroud suffer an injury.
Why has a deal taken so long?
There is a £37m buy-out clause in Draxler’s Shalke contract that is effective from the summer, but the German club will accept offers at that level now.
Arsenal are not against paying that amount of money for Draxler in the fullness of time, but want a deal that is structured to reflect he is not the finished article.
Sources in Germany claim a £36m final fee has been agreed between Arsenal and Schalke, but negotiations have been taking place over how the deal will be structured.
Arsenal want to pay a smaller fee up front with various add-ons, while Schalke have been demanding most of the money up front.
Draxler’s wages will not be a problem for Arsenal, as he currently earns just under £50,000-a-week at Schalke. The German international has been carrying an injury, but was told on Wednesday that he can play again next week.
Should Arsenal wait until the summer?
There is a feeling that Arsenal genuinely have a chance of ending their long run without a trophy this season, but the squad may require a boost.
Draxler, like Mesut Ozil in the summer, would give everybody at the Emirates a lift and would ensure the feel-good factor does not dwindle away.
Injuries to Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott have robbed Arsenal of some of their attacking threat and there is the lingering fear that Olivier Giroud cannot see out an entire season as the only top-quality forward.
Arsenal will also be aware that they may face stiff competition for Draxler in the summer, particularly if he goes to the World Cup with Germany and impresses.
Bayern Munich are well aware of the player’s potential, while the 20-year-old has told friends that a childhood dream has been to one day play for Real Madrid.
Could Draxler be the difference in the Premier League title race?
In short, yes. Arsenal will be kicking themselves if they miss out on Draxler and drop out of contention to win the title.
As Arsenal officials recognise, he is not the finished article but his creativity could make up for the long-term loss of Walcott and take the pressure off Giroud.
The club record signing of Ozil galvanised the entire Arsenal squad and sent out a message so strong to their rivals that Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho blocked Demba Ba from going to the Emirates on loan.
Securing Draxler could have a similar effect and leave Arsenal feeling far more positive about a gruelling February fixture list.
Are Arsenal chasing anybody else?
Wenger has changed his plans over the past 48 hours and is now trying to sign two new players, one of which is Draxler, before the transfer window shuts.
With Draxler likely to be expensive, a second signing is most likely to be a loan and Wenger is interested in Cristian Tello, Mirko Vucinic and Alvaro Morata.
Juventus forward Vucinic has been offered to Arsenal once again and the club may finally decide to make a move if they cannot convince Barcelona or Real Madrid to let out Tello or Morata.
With Draxler potentially helping to solve Arsenal’s immediate problems in midfield, an on-loan forward would be a big help to Wenger.