As Arsene Wenger’s hunt for a striker goes on, there are strong reports that it is long-time target Julian Draxler whom he has earmarked for the role. Reports linking Arsenal with the highly rated Schalke youngster have increased in recent days and the Daily Mirror has now gone big on their belief that Wenger intends to turn the attacking midfielder into a striker.
Given that Arsenal are well stocked in their advanced midfield positions following the record signing of Mesut Ozil, the continued interest in Draxler, with reports that Wenger has been in contact with the 20-year-old, had been something of a head-scratcher. If the Mirror’s reports are indeed true, then the pursuit would make far more sense given the lack of alternatives to Olivier Giroud up front.
It would still represent a major gamble to spend a massive sum on a player with the intention of utilizing him in what is an unfamiliar position. As the Mirror points out, Wenger has previously performed a similar feat to great success with Robin van Persie. However, the Dutchman was signed for a meager fee of around £3 million. Draxler has mainly been deployed on the left of an attacking midfield three and has scored just once in the Bundesliga this season, although he did find the net three times in the Champions League group phase. He did get into double figures in goals last season, with most of them coming after he was switched to the No. 10 role, following Lewis Holtby’s January exit to Tottenham.
Intriguingly, it is Holtby’s rumored move back to Schalke that is being touted as potentially helping Arsenal attain Draxler in this month’s transfer window rather than waiting for the summer. A move still appears unlikely in January, however. The Germany international has a much publicized buyout clause of €45 million (£37.4m), but it is only valid during the summer. Schalke general manager Horst Heldt admitted they may ultimately be rendered powerless, but still remain optimistic about their chances of persuading their prime asset to stay.
"We are still hopeful Julian is to stay on at our club," he said, according to Sky Sports. "However, there are certain arrangements we cannot change!"
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With Draxler unlikely to be able to help Arsenal out in the short term, Wenger is still thought to be exploring the possibilities to provide further cover for Giroud as they push for silverware in the second half of the season. Alvaro Morata has been the subject of interest over a loan move, but Real Madrid continue to insist he will not be going anywhere in January. The 21-year-old has found his playing time increasingly limited and has suggested he would welcome a move, but Madrid’s stance appears clear.
That has not stopped the competition for his services from heating up, however. Spanish publication El Confidencial reports that even were Madrid to allow Morata to leave, either on loan or permanently, Arsenal would have to battle it out with the likes of Fiorentina, Internazionale, Villarreal and Getafe.
It appears that Wenger has alternative solutions in mind, with the agent of Juventus forward Giovinco claiming that Arsenal have been in touch. The diminutive 26-year-old has started just three matches this season, following the arrivals of Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente. In order to garner a place in Italy’s squad for the World Cup, there is reason to believe that the former Parma man may well decide that he needs a move, either permanently or on loan. However, agent Claudio Pasqual states otherwise.
“Giovinco and Arsenal? There is a request for information but nothing more,” he told Tuttomercatoweb. “However, it is useful to reiterate that Sebastian will remain at Juventus. It's nice that there are interests from other clubs like this but they are destined to remain as such."