Schalke sporting director Horst Heldt has stated that he is “convinced” Julian Draxler will be a Royal Blues player for the rest of the season and perhaps even beyond that, amid reports that Arsenal have provisionally agreed a deal for the attacker.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has made a final move to try and lure the Germany international to the Emirates Stadium in January, according to the English media, and his hopes of securing the 20-year-old appear to have been boosted with the news that he will be clear to play in just seven days' time.
Draxler has been sidelined with a ruptured ankle tendon he picked up after the 2-0 Champions League win over FC Basel in mid-December, and it had first been feared he would be injured until March. But, according to kicker, German specialist Hans-Wilhelm Mueller-Wohlfahrt has cleared him to return to individual training and work towards featuring in February's big games against Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga and the Champions League quarterfinal tie against Real Madrid.
However, despite the English press claiming that a deal has already been struck, reports in Germany suggest that Schalke do not want to sell the Germany international in the winter.
And Heldt has since told a news conference in Gelsenkirchen on Thursday afternoon that Draxler is not going anywhere for the time being, while adding that the player is content to remain at the club.
“We are happy to have such a world class player in our lines. I am very convinced that Draxler will be playing for us in the Rueckrunde [second half of the season] but most probably beyond that,” he said. “We are not interested in letting Julian leave, and he has also not approached us about a transfer.”
On reports of an Arsenal delegation heading to Gelsenkirchen to negotiate a deal, he added: “I checked my office if someone was waiting for me, but nobody was there. Of course, there are always other clubs interested in him, and should someone make a serious offer for him, then we as a club have to professionally consider that. That does not only apply to Julian Draxler, but to every other player.”
There has also been talk of a 45.5 million euro release clause in Draxler’s contract, however, Heldt insisted that Schalke have the power to demand as much as they like for the player.
“That agreement was only in place for last year, from now on the transfer fee is up for negotiation,” he said.
Heldt’s words follow on from Schalke media director Thomas Spiegel telling ESPN FC late on Wednesday that there is no sign of an agreement being struck with Arsenal.
"Our position remains unchanged," he said. "There is nothing Horst Heldt has to be concerned with."
Spiegel referred to a statement made by Heldt on Sunday, in which he did not rule out the possibility that a deal could happen, but underlined the hypothetical nature of his statement by adding that he could also "not rule out signing Cristiano Ronaldo."
Despite the comments from both Heldt and Spiegel, Wenger insists Arsenal are in the market for a new player, but are not closing in on anybody just yet.
“Are we active? Yes. Are we close to sign anybody? No,” he told the club’s official website. “There's not long now [left in the transfer window] that's true. First, the situation was going like always in a transfer market -- week by week. In the last two weeks it goes day by day, now it goes hour by hour. In any hour anything can happen or change but at the moment, unfortunately, we are not signing anybody.”
English media reports on Thursday morning say that Arsenal officials have been in Germany to discuss a potential Draxler transfer, and that a provisional 36 million euro deal for the 20-year old midfielder has been agreed
"I have not heard of any new developments," Schalke chairman Clemens Toennies told the Thursday edition of kicker, also leaving room for speculation.
Meanwhile, Arsenal are waiting to hear from Mirko Vucinic after having their bid for the Montenegrin accepted by Juventus, according to reports in Italy. Vucinic, 30, was on the verge of joining Inter Milan a week ago, but that move fell through. He has been training separately from Juve's first-team squad in the meantime with his agent Alessandro Lucci saying negotiations over a transfer were ongoing.
According to Tuttosport, Arsenal and Juventus have already reached an agreement over a loan deal, and it is now up to the player to decide whether or not to accept a transfer to the Premier League.