25 January 2014

Odds of a Draxler signing now at 1/5...

It's getting hard to ignore the buzz around Julian Draxler, a buzz that is approximately on-par with a squadron of helicopters, but we've been here before, most recently with Gonzalo Higuain, and we all know how that turned out, for better or for worse. Before going any further, it's worth mentioning that Higuain's current club didn't advance from the Champions League group-stage. We did. Napoli sits third in Serie A, twelve points off of Juve's pace. We are currently top of the league (try not to chant that, even mentally). Moving on.

My point here is to remind ourselves that anything can happen, including Draxler signing for Arsenal now or never, and that Arsenal, with or without Draxler, are in fine shape. However, the prospect of such a talented player joining in January keeps me drawing me like a moth to flame. Pouring petrol all over said flame are the likes of John Cross, who reports that we've made a bid of around £25m—well-short of Schalke's valuation and of Draxler's £37m buy-out clause. Even more intriguing, Jan Aage Fjørtoft, who accurately called the Ozil transfer a few hours before it was officially announced, has chimed in with a similar tweet, saying "I understand that Schalke and Arsenal have agreed a fee. If he will leave now I don't know. But this is latest info". Of course, this is little more than window-dressing, albeit some fancy dressing at that. Unlike Cross or other paid outlets, I can't discern a financial motive in Fjørtoft's role here; posting on twitter just doesn't pay the bills (even if there is some spillover to his role as a tv commentator).

No, more interesting to me than these sources is how the betting sites rate a potential Draxler move. In the last few days, the fractional odds for Draxler to Arsenal have now dropped to as low as 1/5, meaning a £5-bet wins a measly £1. Other clubs to which Draxler has been linked, such as Chelsea or Man City, come in at relative long shots of 33/1. The tabloids, blogs, and other sources draw their lifeblood by sucking on the hopes and dreams of fans desperate to see their clubs sign some big names. Betting sites, by contrast, aren't necessarily in the business of peddling stories; they make their money by trying to accurately assess the odds on player-movement so that they're not paying out more than they take in. As such, it seems to me that they are putting their money where theirs mouth are to a greater extent than tabloids. It's still a long way from confirmation, of course, but then again, there is news of a press conference for Monday, most likely to show off the new Puma kits for next year, but who's to say that we won't see Draxler in one?

The Telegraph, among others, describe Draxler as "the German forward who is desperate to move to the Emirates this month" and goes on to say that he's the one who is "forcing the issue" of completing the move before the transfer-window shuts. The "when", in addition the "how much", seems to be the issue moreso than the "if." Of course, if we could bring in Draxler now, that's far-better than waiting. Even if he's not ready to play centrally, he'd be far-more expensive in the summer, and with Chelsea moving Mata, Chelsea's soul-less remorseless player-eating-machine might start casting its baleful, hungry eyes salaciously about. If we're serious in pursuing Draxler, and it seems we are, by all means sign him now.

We're down to five business days before the transfer-window closes. As Arsène has claimed, most big deals happen in the window's final days. Well, those days are upon us. I'd love to see Arsène prove his own words true, through and through. Arsène? What say you?