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Arsene Wenger is keen to bolster his attack after injury to Theo Walcott and believes the German, who has a €48 million release clause, could be developed into a centre-forward

EXCLUSIVE
By Wayne Veysey | UK Correspondent

Arsenal are weighing up a January move for Julian Draxler as they assess new options to reinforce their attack this month.

Arsene Wenger remains in the market for a 'special' forward over the next three weeks and is exploring the availability of the Schalke sensation in the wake of Theo Walcott's season-ending knee injury.

Diego Costa, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Fernando Llorente feature prominently on Arsenal's target list, while Real Madrid youngster Alvaro Morata is considered a back-up option on loan.

Draxler is a long-term target of the Gunners, who believe the 20-year-old German can be developed from a wide player into a centre-forward.

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Wenger had already begun exploring the possibility of capturing Draxler this summer but is now considering an approach to Schalke this month.

The Bundesliga club are unlikely to be interested in selling their prize asset in mid-season, especially given the reported €48 million release clause inserted in the five-year contract Draxler signed last summer.

Arsenal's already thin forward options have been decimated further over the last week by the cruciate ligament injury that will sideline Walcott for the rest of the season and Nicklas Bendtner's damaged ankle ligaments, which Wenger expects to keep him out for three more weeks.

Goal understands that Bendtner is making good progress and could return earlier than expected, which is why Wenger sanctioned rookie striker Chuba Akpom's month-long loan to Brentford on Thursday.

Akpom's loan will be extended until the end of the season if Arsenal suffer no more forward injuries. Meanwhile, the return to training of Yaya Sanogo last Monday - the France Under-21 international who is still to make his first-team debut - has strengthened the squad.

Olivier Giroud is currently Arsenal's only fit senior centre-forward but the Frenchman has had a heavy workload this season due to the lack of viable alternatives.

Wenger had been reluctant to utilise Bendtner before his injury and has shown little faith in Walcott or Lukas Podolski moving inside from the flanks and spearheading the attack.

The Arsenal boss has admitted that he will have to delve into the January transfer market to bolster his centre-forward options, saying Walcott's injury has "accelerated" his plans for the winter window.

Goal revealed in December that Arsenal had dispatched scouts to monitor in-form Atletico Madrid striker Costa, who figures prominently on a five-man January striker shortlist compiled by the club, which also includes Paris Saint-Germain's Lavezzi, Juventus' Llorente and AC Milan's Stephan El Shaarawy, who has subsequently broken down with injury.

Wenger has also laid the foundationz for a loan deal for Spain Under-21 international Morata if he cannot secure a marquee forward in the notoriously difficult winter window.

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