Schalke have confirmed that they knocked back an approach for Julian Draxler from Arsenal last month and say they remain confident of holding onto their starlet this summer.
Draxler, 20, was Arsene Wenger’s leading target during the January transfer window but it is believed Arsenal failed to meet his €45 million (£37m) buyout clause, which Schalke were said to be willing to accept even though it is only active during the summer. Schalke coach Jens Keller recently conceded that the presence of the clause means he remains uncertain about the Germany international’s future. Their general manager Horst Heldt, however, remains more optimistic.
“Arsenal officially enquired about the services of Julian Draxler during the recent transfer window,” he told Sport1 Media. “We did not want him to leave. Of course, it was big money on offer, but still it was not enough for us.
"I am convinced Julian will be playing at Schalke past the end of the season. We are able to offer him enough ambition."
It is likely that should Arsenal be inclined to move for Draxler again this summer they will still be faced with meeting the same clause. There is also the possibility that, with the chance of him impressing at the World Cup, there could be fierce competition for his signature.
Wenger was believed to be intending to convert Draxler into a striker and, whether or not it is the Schalke man, Arsenal’s boss will surely look to bolster his forward ranks at the end of the season. In the past Arsenal have been linked with Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema and Marca has suggested that the Gunners would still be interested should the France international exit the Bernabeu.
Benzema’s contract expires in the summer of 2015, yet the Spanish sports daily reports that, after some rocky times, there is now a willingness from both parties to extend his deal.
French publication Le Figaro claims that it is all systems go regarding Arsenal’s reported interest in another striker, Milan’s Mario Balotelli. Rumors of a possible return to England for the former Manchester City man have emerged in recent weeks, apparently started by Arsenal’s inking of a kit deal with Puma, who also work with the Italy international.
Reports in Italy even suggested that Wenger had met with Balotelli’s agent Mino Raiola recently, with rumors of the striker’s unhappiness in Milan exacerbated by his tears on the bench after being substituted against Napoli earlier this month. Milan are enduring a woeful season and will almost certainly miss out on Champions League qualification for next season. It remains doubtful, however, whether Wenger will be enthusiastic about managing Balotelli’s sometimes difficult personality.
In other news, The Sun has claimed that Wenger has identified Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlin as the long-term replacement for Mikel Arteta. The Spaniard’s contract will expire at the end of next season, by which time he will be 33. Schneiderlin, 24, has impressed at the base of Southampton’s midfield since coming up to the Premier League with the south coast club last season.