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Wenger cools Draxler speculation

ESPN staff
January 17, 2014 « In-form Johnson two off the pace in California | Chartbeat test »
Mertesacker would welcome Draxler

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has insisted he is not close to striking a deal to sign Germany midfielder Julian Draxler from Schalke.

Wenger has been heavily linked with a move to trigger the reported £31 million release clause in Draxler's contract, with Gunners defender Per Mertesacker among those talking up the prospect of the 20-year-old attacking star joining an increasing band of high-profile German stars at Arsenal.

Yet when asked directly whether a deal for Draxler was close, Wenger provided a resounding response in the negative, before he distanced himself from reports that the midfielder had been given a tour of the Arsenal Hertfordshire training base in recent days.

"Like with non-identified flying objects, some see them everywhere," he said when quizzed on Draxler's reported appearance at the north London club's HQ.

"I'm curious what will happen [with Draxler], it is my nature. The transfer period lasts until 31st January. Are we close to anyone, I'd say no."

German stars Mesut Ozil, Lukas Podolski, Per Mertesacker and Serge Gnabry have emerged as key figures in the Arsenal line-up in the last couple of years, with Wenger clearly diverting his attention away from the French transfer market which used to be renowned as a talent hotspot for the Gunners.

"It's about talent and quality and at the moment, the talent is produced in Germany so we are, of course, interested where the talent is," said Wenger. "At the moment, Germany produces top level players.

"We are interested in good education and top level players and at the moment Germany produce that."

As well as distancing himself from Draxler, Wenger again denied he is preparing a bid for Fulham striker Dimitar Berbatov, as he offered up his strongest comments yet on his belief that the January transfer window should be abolished by the game's authorities.

"Scrap it completely or keep it open until the last four games," was Wenger's verdict on the transfer window.

"It's like running a relay and mid-way through, you change your runners.

"If you play someone twice before the transfer window, you have an advantage against those teams. That is not right.

"[The transfer window] gives teams a chance who are already convicted, gives them some hope. When I arrived in England, the transfer window was open until April and it didn't create a problem.

"Why did we change it to create this high intense activity? Suddenly in January everyone becomes nervous. Before, it was the whole season, it didn't create a problem. Leave it like that or close it for the whole season."

Wenger went on to suggest the January window will not see too many big signings at top clubs, as he suggested a majority of transfer business is concluded in the summer.

"It won't be busy," he added. "The transfer market in January is a low key transfer market. There is very reduced activity and while there will be some, it will be the last three days as ever."

Lukas Podolski (left) and Per Mertesacker (centre) are two of Arsenal's growing German contingent © Getty Images
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