Why Lewis Holtby might not be going anywhere

Paul Gilham

German football journalist Raphael Honigstein on why the Schalke merry-go-round might be stopping, as Arsenal seem unlikely to pay the price for Julian Draxler.

Earlier today, we passed along a rumor that Lewis Holtby is looking for a way out of Tottenham Hotspur, at least temporarily. His agent said that he's exploring other options because of a lack of playing time, which is understandable. His old club Schalke looked like a good destination for him.

Enter German football journalist Raphael Honigstein, who has some insight on the rumored Julian Draxler transfer.

That first Tweet says "Schalke seem to be literally begging for an offer for Draxler." The "AW" referred to is Arsene Wenger and the crazy price is £40 million, Draxler's rumored buyout clause.

All of this makes perfect sense for Schalke. Draxler is an excellent player who seems almost certain to be world class, but they know they can't keep him forever. They'll be thrilled to get £40m for him given that they've already picked up Sidney Sam and have 18-year-old prodigy Max Meyer waiting in the wings. If they sell Draxler, they can bring in Holtby -- either on loan or a permanent deal -- as a bridge between Draxler and Meyer. Eventually they can figure out how to fit them into the same team or sell one of them.

Except Arsenal don't seem willing to pay £40m for Draxler. And given the emergence of Serge Gnabry, along with the improved form of Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey, why should they? Santi Cazorla is probably about to enter a downswing in his career at 29 years old and Tomas Rosicky's time as a top player is limited at 33 with a lengthy injury history, but Özil, Ramsey, Wilshere and Gnabry are still there. Gedion Zelalem is a massive talent as well.

Would Draxler improve Arsenal and eventually solidify his place in their starting XI? Almost certainly, he's a class player who's going to improve on what he is right now. But is he enough of an improvement on what they already have to be worth £40m to them? Almost certainly not.

Meanwhile, Barcelona don't have places for Sergi Roberto and Rafinha Alcantara, while Real Madrid just bought Isco last summer and Bayern Munich bought Thiago. Chelsea have way too many attacking midfielders. This certainly limits Draxler and Schalke's options. Manchester City, Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain could all be interested and all have the cash, but none have been seriously linked to him recently.

While Holtby is a good enough and young enough player with an impressive enough pedigree to go to another Premier League team, his previous relationship with Schalke and their willingness to sell a player similar to Holtby seemed to make them the most likely destination for him this January. If they're not going to be able to sell Draxler, they have no need for Holtby. There isn't another team out there that has a potential £40m wad of cash burning a hole in their pocket or a previous relationship with him, so any other move will probably see him take longer to become a first team regular in the case of a loan or fetch a lower fee in the case of a sale.

Even if Holtby is surplus to requirements at the Lane and Tim Sherwood doesn't rate him, it seems less likely that he'll depart if Arsenal have soured on a Draxler move.

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