Is it coincidental that stories linking Arsenal with Schalke’s Julian Draxler emerge on the same day as revelations about Jack Wilshere’s need for a further operation? It soothes the tension to a degree, but injury concerns to Wilshere aside, Draxler is exactly the type of player Arsenal and their “£70 million war chest” should be targeting this summer.
Forget Theo Walcott and that protracted transfer saga for a moment; Arsenal needed Jack Wilshere more than anything to round out that group of young British players who extended their contracts with the club. The youngster wasn’t so much the icing on the cake but rather the foundation for the now and very much for the future. Without Wilshere, there wasn’t to be that much in the way of excitement and, importantly, hope.
For that, the cynics do have a leg to stand on this week following rumours of an approach for Draxler. You have to ask why Schalke would put themselves in a position to let go of one of Germany’s most exciting talents; and let’s not ignore the fact that Draxler could be one of the best players in Europe in a few years if he continues of the same path. He’s been given the important central role in the Schalke attack just behind the striker and has recorded eight league goals this season.
That’s why a £15 million figure seems a little low for a player of his potential. If that is the correct figure, or thereabouts, why not just add a little more to the pot and go in for Isco? That’s the question some fans may have, while others wouldn’t shy away from asking for Mario Gotze this summer. Julian Draxler, however, seems about right for Arsenal at this stage. Moreover, it has to be believed that this would be an outstanding piece of business for the club if they manage to pull it off. Arsenal has adopted the approach of buying up youth products from some of the leading nations in football: Brazil, Spain, Germany, among others. However, with the exception of one or two, the club have never really cherry-picked from the highest point of the tree. A move for Draxler would be a notable and welcome change from the norm.
It also needs to be addressed that a young player in the mould of Draxler may actually be needed at Arsenal. The club currently have players like Santi Cazorla who is far too good to go unnoticed, and many are catching on to his importance and influence in this Arsenal team. But big clubs need stability and hope for the future. They need a level of continuity and an easy transition in the passing of the torch. Wilshere’s injury problems may not go away for a long time, if ever, and you get the sense that the burden of expectation needs to be eased a little.
I’m not too interested in the club vs. country row. England need Wilshere, and all that. Well it’s not really Arsenal’s problem, rather the wider issue of youth development in this country. It says a lot when a nation such as England put so much weight on one player. Germany, meanwhile have been able to draft in players of Draxler’s quality when regular first-team members have been out. It should say a lot about the Schalke midfielder at this time as he was recently handed his first start for Germany ahead of players like Lukas Podolski.
At only 19 years of age, Draxler is already at the top of European football, currently competing in a league which can make a real claim for title as the most exciting in Europe, while also taking in the experience of Champions League football and all the demands of challenging for the highest possible place in the Bundesliga.
It’s quite clear that Arsenal and Arsene Wenger in particular have identified the German market as an extraordinary pool of talent – many of whom come at prices which would normally be deemed affordable. It makes sense then for Arsenal to identify a player like Draxler, and it shouldn’t just raise suspicions in those of us who are most cynical at this time of year. Julian Draxler would be a great signing for Arsenal, and one who may be very much needed as a way of balancing out the worries with Jack Wilshere.