Schalke confident of keeping Draxler
Schalke are hoping to keep hold of midfielder Julian Draxler beyond the summer.
The Royal Blues continue to be the surprise team of the second half of the season, having closed in on second-placed Borussia Dortmund, who they now trail by just one point.
In 11 league matches, Schalke, who have been without a number of key players due to injury and suspension, have picked up 26 points -- only five less than champions Bayern Munich have managed in that time.
At the halfway point of the season, Schalke were seventh in the table and in danger of losing out on a place in next season’s Champions League.
But despite their struggles, the club vowed to continue working with coach Jens Keller, and the decision has proved to be a correct one.
However, the future of sought-after Draxler, 20, still remains unclear.
During the January transfer window, the midfielder was heavily linked with a switch to Arsenal, only for Schalke to turn down a late bid from the North London club.
In the summer, though, a buy-out clause in the Germany international’s contract will allow him to leave the club for 45.5 million euros.
Draxler has also been linked with a move to Bayern, although Pep Guardiola’s side have ruled out a summer bid for the player.
On Sunday, Schalke sporting director Horst Heldt told Sky Deutschland that the Royal Blues have not given up hope of convincing Draxler to remain at the club.
“I believe that he will stay here,” Heldt said.
Meanwhile, Draxler has conceded that he will need to improve on his form in the upcoming weeks if he is to secure a place in Germany’s World Cup squad.
Since returning from a thigh injury in February, Draxler has featured in seven Bundesliga games and twice in the Champions League.
However, he has been far from consistent in that time, and told kicker: “Especially regarding the World Cup I will need to show more in attack than I’ve shown in the past games.
“I hope I can score a goal again or provide a decisive assist. But I don’t pressure myself. The most important thing is to return to full fitness. And I am on a very good path. As long as the team wins, I have all the time [to get fit].”