The problem with Arsene Wenger is that he never gambles. He never abandons that voice in his head that tells him to hold fire on something that could go either way, ignoring the tremendous upside that could be had on his team and Arsenal as a whole.
Mesut Ozil wasn’t a gamble or a stroke of transfer genius, of which Wenger has been known for especially in his first 10 years in north London. Even though the numbers were against him in the chase for Ozil’s signature – Tottenham doing their part to halt the move by delaying Gareth Bale’s transfer to Real Madrid – the capture of the German was primarily to make up for yet another lacklustre transfer window and disastrous start to the season. Forget that Ozil is the perfect Arsenal player; that’s not what the club were thinking at the time.
At some point in the next four or five months, we’ll be able to tell whether Julian Draxler is another name consigned to that list of current or former superstars who could have been Arsenal players. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Didier Drogba, Cristiano Ronaldo, Yaya Toure, among many others.
The January transfer window played out as most Arsenal fans expected. There was a name linked. A player, like every other window, who would have been a boost to the squad’s morale and given them the impetus to go out and secure what was needed, whether it be Champions League qualification or the capture of silverware.
The reservations held by Wenger came to the fore yet again. And while the monetary issue is the bat which fans and pundits will beat the Arsenal manager over the head with, there are likely other factors at play.
Bayern Munich have explained that they have no designs on Schalke’s midfielder. The suggestion was that Draxler would be a replacement should Toni Kroos depart for Manchester United, but Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has ruled out a move for the youngster.
It leaves a clear path for Arsenal to move ahead and bring Draxler to the Emirates. Not only would the German represent another step to where Arsenal’s financial might and infrastructure should place them, but it would be as if the club were offering a thank you gift to the supporters for hanging on in times of difficulty and enormous frustration on the transfer front. After all, what better way to move on from the heartbreak and disappointment of losing names like Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie by rebuilding with players who are genuinely capable of replacing them?
Wenger will need to put his degree in economics to one side. If for the purpose of making Arsenal a better team Draxler is deemed the perfect target, then allow the club’s negotiators to get the deal done.
Wenger will need to put aside his reliance – not so much faith – on what he currently has and completely desert the notion that players like Draxler will hinder the development of others in the team.
Wenger is accountable for the way Arsenal move, on the pitch and off, and where the club ultimately emerges. There is an almost unanimous consensus on Julian Draxler and where he will end up soon in his career: as one of Europe’s leading stars. Arsenal do have the financial means to get him. They must take this opportunity and make the most of the resources they have fought to gain.
Draxler’s signing will lift Arsenal enormously, but it will also tell the supporters that Wenger is capable of doing what needs to be done to shake the tag of ‘also-rans.’ Arsenal may finish this season with the FA Cup, but it is likely to count for very little and keep the club cemented in stagnation if it isn’t used as a springboard to join the elite of European football.
It isn’t just about Draxler the player; it’s what he as a star name represents. Wenger must shake the reservations he has which are currently holding Arsenal back and make a bold move in the market. With a superpower like Bayern out of the picture, there can be no excuse for Arsenal choosing not to make strides with the signing of Draxler.