Lukas Podolski has denied reports that he was offered in part-exchange for Schalke starlet Julian Draxler during the January transfer window.
Arsenal pursued Draxler in vain for much of the month, with the club seemingly unwilling to match the player’s €45 million (£37.6m) release clause. Thus it was mooted that Podolski had been offered as a makeweight in the deal. The forward, who arrived from Cologne in the summer of 2012 has been in and out of the Arsenal side since returning from an injury suffered on the opening day of the Premier League season. The 28-year-old revealed that he does not know what the future holds for his Germany colleague Draxler, but that he was never a part of any proposal.
"Every top player is of interest to Arsenal -- and Draxler is certainly one of those,” he said, according to Sky Sports. “But I do not know what the [club bosses] are planning. I am in contact with Julian. He is a great guy. But we haven't spoken about any transfer."
"I only know that a swap deal involving me and him was never a consideration.”
It remains to be seen whether Draxler will again be targeted in the summer. Although the 20-year-old has operated as an attacking midfielder, it is believed that Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger intended to convert him into a striker. Having failed to sign a front man, either last summer or in January, doing so is sure to again feature high on the agenda come the end of the season. Yet, Arsenal will almost certainly be out of luck should they be hoping to lower Schalke’s demands for the talented international who became the youngest player in history to amass 100 competitive appearances for a Bundesliga club.
One Arsenal target that now appears certainly unattainable is Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema. With the France international struggling at the start of the season, and even being jeered by his own fans, reports had strongly linked him with a move away. Arsenal were believed to be one of his chief suitors. But the former Lyon man has been in fine form of late and Spanish sports daily Marca now claims that a new contract is being discussed to keep him at the Bernabeu beyond his current deal’s expiry date of June 2016. Both player and club are said to be keen on reaching an agreement.
Elsewhere, Juventus midfielder Claudio Marchisio has revealed that he has previously been informed of interest from several Premier League clubs, including Arsenal. The Italy international’s future was the subject of much discussion last summer as the emergence of Paul Pogba diminished his role within the squad.
“Sometimes I have received phone calls from agents who told me of the interest of clubs such as Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool,” he said, according to Metro. “But no one from these clubs has ever contacted us directly. “And in [that] case I would tell them to talk to Juve.”
Manchester United are the club to have been strongest linked with a move for Marchisio and it seems unlikely that Arsenal will be further in need of strengthening their midfield.