Schalke general manager Horst Heldt says that he is extremely confident that Arsenal target Julian Draxler will be staying with the Bundesliga club for next season.
Arsenal pushed to sign the 20-year-old in January, but failed to match his €45 million (£37.3m) buyout clause. There has been much speculation that Arsene Wenger, who reportedly intends on converting the attacking midfielder into a striker, will move again for Draxler in the summer. Arsenal’s path has been cleared with Bayern Munich revealing that they won’t be bidding for the player, although Schalke appear to have no intention of accepting any amount that doesn’t match his release clause.
"I definitely believe that he will be staying at our club for the new season,” he told Sky Deutschland. "Julian is an important player in our squad, he is playing regular matches and he is doing quite well.”
Arsenal’s failure to sign a striker either in January or last summer has certainly been shown up of late. While Olivier Giroud made a strong start to the season he has now scored just six goals in his last 17 Premier League appearances. Meanwhile, Yaya Sanogo has yet to score for the club, while Nicklas Bendtner has found the net just twice amid continuing disciplinary issues.
Reports in Germany over the weekend suggested that Wenger had already moved to try and correct that deficiency for next season by securing a deal for Nurnberg striker Josip Drmic. The 21-year-old moved from FC Zurich last season and has hit the ground running with 16 Bundesliga goals. And German great Lothar Matthaus, working as an analyst for Sky Germany, suggested that a move to Arsenal was a done deal, claiming that Drmic’s wife was already looking for a house in London.
But the Switzerland international, who has also played out wide this season, has played down the reports, although admitted that a move to Arsenal would certainly appeal.
"At the moment I am single and there is no one house hunting in London,” Drmic said, according to Sky Sports. “What will happen in the future, I don't know. Any boy dreams about playing for Arsenal.”
Elsewhere, the Daily Mail has reported that Arsenal may revive their interest in Swansea center-back Ashley Williams. The Wales international was heavily linked to the Gunners last summer and, according to the Mail, talks were held over a potential deal. It is now believed that Williams, 29, is desperate to make the move this summer, with Arsenal potentially turning to the Swansea captain if Gunners skipper Thomas Vermaelen leaves the Emirates at the end of the season. Vermaelen has barely played in the past year due to the impressive partnership of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny. Barcelona have been linked with the 28-year-old in the past.
While Arsenal perhaps wouldn’t be overly disappointed to lose Vermaelen, the same is definitely not true of Bacary Sagna. The 31-year-old’s contract expires in the summer and, with Arsenal only previously willing to offer a maximum of a two-year extension, a new deal has yet to be agreed. But after reports emerged that Manchester City are willing to offer him a three-year contract, Arsenal have broken from their traditional practice and also put a three-year offer on the table, according to the Daily Mirror.
“He [Sagna] has an offer, he has not come back to us yet,” Wenger said. “That [City offer] cannot be right because it's illegal. I'm confident he will stay but we will accept his decision. No matter what his decision will be, we will accept it and go on with it.”