at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Arsenal were last night rushing to complete a £37million swoop for Schalke sensation Julian Draxler.
The Gunners are increasingly confident that a deal to sign the 20-year-old wonderkid will be completed before tomorrow night’s transfer deadline.
Sportsmail first revealed Arsenal’s pursuit of Draxler earlier this month, with manager Arsene Wenger believing the Germany forward can be moulded into the next Robin van Persie or Thierry Henry.
Arsenal chiefs have flown to Gelsenkirchen in an attempt to push through the move for their priority target.
Negotiations over the transfer fee and add-ons will continue today, but there is a strong feeling a deal will be concluded before the deadline.
Schalke are refusing to budge on their £37m valuation. Arsenal, however, have been reluctant to go above £30m for the youngster.
But fears of missing out on a player Wenger so desperately wants have forced the Gunners to ramp up their efforts to land him.
The attacking midfielder is nursing an ankle injury, though he should be fit by the end of February.
Nevertheless, Wenger wants the transaction wrapped up now as he looks to bolster his squad ahead of the business end of the season, with the Frenchman also keen on taking young Spaniards Cristian Tello and Alvaro Morata on loan until the end of the season.
Arsenal have scouted and enquired about Barcelona’s Tello and have made fresh contact with Real Madrid regarding Morata.
Aaron Ramsey could be out for a month, with the thigh injury that has kept him out since Boxing Day causing him discomfort in training on Monday.
Jack Wilshere is also set to miss Sunday’s game against Crystal Palace with an ankle problem, while Mathieu Flamini is banned for three games after his red card for a two-foot lunge against Southampton on Tuesday.
Arsenal are hoping, however, that midfielder Tomas Rosicky will be fit to face Palace after recovering from illness and a broken nose.
Meanwhile, Wenger is sure to be frustrated after Arsenal’s FA Cup fifth-round clash against Liverpool was scheduled for Sunday, February 16.
The club wanted the match to be played the day before, in order to give the team extra time to recover for their Champions League clash against Bayern Munich on the Wednesday.
But the Saturday lunchtime slot has gone to Manchester City v Chelsea, leaving the Gunners to play a day later.
Earlier this week, Wenger and Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho argued over whether Arsenal get an easy ride over fixtures.
Mourinho said the Emirates club have an ‘influence’ when it comes to their schedule, something Wenger was quick to refute.
He cited his side’s hectic schedule before Christmas when they played at Manchester City on a Saturday lunchtime following a midweek European trip to Napoli, both of which ended in defeat.
Now they face two huge games in quick succession against Liverpool and Bayern, who play on the Saturday, 24 hours before Arsenal’s Liverpool clash. - Daily Mail