Schalke sporting director Horst Heldt has confirmed the club did turn down an offer for Julian Draxler but gave a cryptic answer as to whether it had come from Arsenal.
Arsenal were reported to be on the verge of agreeing a deal for the Germany international as the transfer window drew to a close, but Heldt said last week that there had been no negotiations and Arsene Wenger insisted: “The Draxler situation has been created by the newspapers, not by me.”
However, the player himself indicated to Sky television in Germany that Heldt had “offers on the table,” and Heldt has now confirmed at least one offer came in, although he remained coy over the identity of the club.
“I can confirm that there was a request. It had the dimension of a transfer that you don't do any day of the week. It was a decent deal, but insufficient for us to accept,” he told journalists in the mixed zone after the 2-1 victory over Wolfsburg on Saturday. “We clearly stated our opinion to Julian, and it was dealt with quickly.”
He added: “It came from a club to the north of us.”
Der Westen believes that Heldt was referring to England, and potentially Arsenal, but as London is no further north than Gelsenkirchen, that would seem to suggest Schalke's Bundesliga rivals Wolfsburg, perhaps the only club further north who could afford such a transfer, or a club in Russia.
Despite Heldt recently announcing that Draxler’s much-publicised 45.5 million euro release clause was only in effect last summer, he accepts that the attacker will depart at some stage.
“The time will come for him to change clubs, but it hasn’t happened now and I don’t necessarily think it will happen this summer,” he said. “However, with his quality, Julian is unstoppable. He will be a top player in Europe.”
Heldt warned that the player would not come cheap, adding: “The rules of the game are clearly defined for the summer. Someone must have the courage to do it.”
Draxler said he accepted Schalke’s decision to reject last week’s offer.
He told Sky: “It is true that there were offers on the table for me during this winter window. Obviously I’m not going to say who from, but there were offers. It shows how much I’m appreciated at this club if Horst Heldt rejects offers without me being asked. Of course I’m happy about that.”
Asked whether one of the offers was Arsenal, Draxler, who is currently working his way back to fitness, replied: “I don’t know.
“I wasn’t too aware of everything that was going on in the media -- I was just focusing on my fitness. Of course I wasn’t completely unaware of everything that was being said but I know the truth of the story so I didn't let it drive me crazy.”
He insisted he was uncertain as to whether he would still be at Schalke at the start of next season as he concentrates on earning a place in Germany’s World Cup squad.
“I haven’t thought that far ahead because I know the next three months are going to be really tough,” he said.
Information from the Press Association was used in this report