The Gunners have made the German playmaker their top target ahead of the transfer deadline, and are said to be working hard to push through a deal.
However, the London club are not willing to go any higher than £24.7m, which is some way short of Schalke’s £30m valuation.
A swoop in the summer looks more likely, but Arsene Wenger is still desperate to add to his squad now in a bid to keep their title challenge on course of the remainder of the season.
Kalou has emerged as a target, with the ex-Chelsea man available for £2.5m due to a release clause in his contract.
The Ivorian can play on either flank or in a central attacking role, and possesses a wealth of experience in English football.
The 28-year-old only left the Blues in 2012 – his last game was the Champions League final – but is already keen to make a Premier League return.
Kalou has been in good form in France, netting 22 goals since joining Lille.
Tottenham and Liverpool may also be interested, but the pair are said to be focused on deals for Dimitar Berbatov and Yevhen Konoplyanka respectively.