1 No means no.
Memo to Julian Draxler: don’t underestimate the resolve of the Wolfsburg movers and shakers.
Keen to make a beeline for the Volkswagen Arena exit, the German international wide man – who only joined the club from Schalke a year ago – decided to go on the offensive last week, claiming in an interview with Bild newspaper that the Wolves had reneged on a verbal agreement to let him go if a major European outfit came in for him and bemoaning a lack of dialogue with club officials.
Trouble is, the power-play approach does not seem to be working.
Within a day of Draxler’s lament, Wolfsburg had hit back with a strongly worded communique of their own. No, they categorically would not be selling him in the current transfer window. No, they never had promised him a summer 2016 opt out, either in written form or verbally.
“We’ve made it clear Julian is staying with us,” says coach, Dieter Hecking. “Sometimes a player has to come to terms with the idea that not everything can go as he wishes. Julian has to take the next step.
“At the Euros he proved he has the ability to perform at that level, but now must add consistency. Maybe I can help him.”
All those interested in Draxler – Arsenal, Everton, Paris Saint-Germain – will have to wait at least another 12 months, by which time a €75million release clause will have kicked in.
2 Coke despair
In a real bodyblow to Schalke’s hopes for a resurgence in 2016-17, new Spanish right-back Coke has been ruled out until the New Year after damaging cruciate knee ligaments in his very first outing for the Gelsenkirchener, in a friendly against Bologna in Austria.
Widely depicted as one of the missing pieces in the Schalke jigsaw, the ex-Sevilla captain should have proved an immediate hit at the Veltins Arena with drive, intensity and leadership qualities. Now he only has the rehab treadmill to look forward to.
Schalke sporting director Christian Heidel says he has no intention of buying a like-for-like replacement, although he is apparently scouring the market for a defensive midfielder and a flexible forward. Not that it will be a straightforward search. Everyone knows Schalke are in the money following the €50m sale of attacker Leroy Sane to Manchester City. And whoever Heidel does business with, they will inevitably play the mark-up game.
3 Lasogga: mum’s the word
Portuguese daily O Jogo think they have a scoop in the keen interest of Sporting in bustling Hamburg target man Pierre-Michel Lasogga.
With two fine young leaders of the line arriving at HSV this summer – the American Bobby Wood from second division Union Berlin and Eintracht Frankfurt’s Luca Waldschmidt – the 24-year-old Lasogga no longer is an automatic starter for the northerners and, along with his agent/mother, Kerstin, is wisely preparing alternative plans.
Wages are what will make or break any deal with Sporting. Lasogga currently earns €4m a season at Hamburg, a figure that is way too rich for the Sporting blood.
4 Leverkusen and the Samba Connection
Renowned for integrating Brazilian talent – the three-decade roll call features the likes Jorginho, Ze Roberto, Lucio, Paulo Sergio, Emerson and Roque Junior – Bayer Leverkusen are rumoured to be mining that seam again.
According to Gazzetta dello Sport, the Rhinelander are chasing Brazilian midfielder, Hernanes, who after a difficult first season at Juventus, has been told he can move on. Capped 27 times by Brazil, Hernanes is valued around the €8.5m mark and has quite a few suitors at the moment, including Chinese sides, Valencia and Benfica.
In other BayArena news, director of sport Rudi Voller has been warning the squad not to succumb to complacency. “We’ve reached the Champions League group phase five times in the last six years and there’s a danger we take it for granted,” Voller told the Koln Stadt-Anzeiger daily. “It will require a bigger effort.”
5 Rangnick’s dance with the Devils.
Ralf Rangnick, the director of sport at Red Bull’s Leipzig branch,has confirmed he was short-listed for the position of Belgium coach, a job which eventually was landed by ex-Everton and Wigan Athletic boss Roberto Martinez.
Rangnick – previously in charge at Hanover, Hoffenheim and Schalke – has a great reputation on the continent for tactical know-how and has been linked with the Diables Rouges in the past, losing out to Marc Wilmots four years ago after Georges Leekens was let go.
“I was approached and there were preliminary talks,” Rangnick told the Munich-based Sport1 website. “Belgium is a country where it’s possible to achieve good things, to win. But when all was said and done, I didn’t want to give up my role with Red Bull. It simply wasn’t viable.”
If Rangnick had got the job, Flemish daily Het Laatste Nieuws suggest he would have brought in a certain Thierry Henry as his number two. The pair know each other from Henry’s time at New York Red Bulls. If only.