Schalke midfielder Julian Draxler believes the release clause in his contract is positive for both him and the club -- and refused to rule out a move to Bayern Munich.
The Royal Blues rejected a bid for Draxler from an unnamed club during the winter transfer window but coach Jens Keller has since said he fears the Germany international, who has been strongly linked with Arsenal, could move on at the end of the season.
Draxler would be permitted to leave Schalke in the summer if a club met the 45.5 million euro release clause that was inserted into his contract when he signed an extension until 2018 last year, but the 20-year-old said he is leaving his options open for now.
“I prolonged my contract because I feel fine here and the long-term deal shows the appreciation and popularity I enjoy at Schalke,” Draxler told local paper WAZ ahead of the Champions League meeting with Real Madrid on Wednesday. “It’s no secret that I have a release clause and therefore have the opportunity to consider what is best for my development every year.
“Of course, the clause leaves a lot of room for speculation, but it is also good for both sides. It’s good for Schalke because the club does not have to let go of me on the cheap and, in their worst-case scenario, they would still get a lot of money for me. And for me it’s good because I can make my own decision if a club decides to pay 45 million euros for me and I want a new challenge.”
Despite the heavy speculation over a switch to Arsenal, Draxler has also been linked with domestic rivals Bayern Munich.
Earlier this month, Schalke chairman Clemens Toennies had said Draxler would not be interested in joining the European champions and Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge last week described the rumours as “nonsense” but, since then, the club’s sporting director, Matthias Sammer, said he could not rule out a move.
Draxler has now told WAZ that it would be foolish to dismiss the possibility, having seen childhood Schalke supporter Manuel Neuer move to the Allianz Arena in 2011 despite earlier bitterness at the Bavarian side.
“I’d prefer not to comment on all those rumours,” he said. “Look at what happened with Manuel Neuer. He was 100 percent convinced that he would never join FC Bayern but, after having played as a pro for five years, time made him change his opinion.
“I also can’t say what I will think in five or six or maybe even 10 years. And when you rule something out entirely and you end up playing where most people don’t want you to be, the outcry is huge.”
Draxler, who has also been linked with Real Madrid in the past, also suggested he may like to play in La Liga or the Premier League at some stage.
“Barcelona and Real Madrid have the most illustrious names in world football, but that does not necessarily mean that I want to join them now or that I don’t want to stay at Schalke or head into a different direction first,” Draxler said. “The most attractive football right now is being played in Spain, while England, for me, has the best league in the world.”
For now, he is simply focused on returning from the injury he sustained in mid-December and so that he can enjoy a strong second half of the season and then book his place in Germany’s World Cup squad.
“If I were to start thinking about what might happen after the World Cup, I could forget about those two targets,” he said.