Julian Draxler: Bundesliga Expert On The Playmaker To Set Arsenal Alight...
When Julian Draxler used to watch Schalke with his father from the stands, few could have envisaged the sort of impact the young boy would have at the club. The Gladbeck-born lad soon joined the club as a youth player after being spotted playing for his local side BV Rentford, and has gone on to become one of the most promising youngsters in European football.
So, would the man with a baby-face that makes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer look like a dogged old man be interested in a switch to the Premier League?
Draxler has always had that little bit of sparkle about him, and when he fizzed in a last-gasp winner against Nurnberg in the German Cup as a 17-year-old back in 2011 people started to get excited about his potential. They went on to win the competition, with Draxler opening the scoring in the final with a powerful volley in what would finish a 5-0 rout over Duisburg.
It was the perfect way to crown his introductory season for the teen, who had worked his way up from the under 9 side. In his debut season for Die Konigsblauen, he played 24 games and scored three goals. And then it started. His reputation across Germany exploded and he became a pivotal part of what Schalke were trying to achieve, despite his tender age.
Draxler is primarily an attacking central midfielder whose creativity and lethal shooting capabilities make him an ideal player to play just behind the striker. However, he can also drift into the wider areas when needed as his pace and delivery from the wing is enticing to witness.
Throughout the 2011/12 Bundesliga season, Draxler regularly found himself deployed on the left-wing, mainly to accommodate for the now-departed Lewis Holtby, but it provided him with a stage to destroy opposing wingers with his treasure box of tricks.
Because of the plaudits that Draxler earned throughout his second season in the first team, he earned himself a call up to Joachim Low's original squad for the 2012 European Championships. Although the midfielder failed to make the final squad, he has gone on to make three appearances for the senior side since.
His second season concluded with 46 games, five goals and nine assists.
The German youngster was in the form of his life last season, there's no doubting that. Since Holtby made his move to Tottenham, Draxler has been given the number 10 shirt - offering extra freedom which has transformed him into one of the most exciting players on the European scene.
He has the attributes you'd expect to find in the most established international footballer, but he has a tendency - like most young men - to become over-enthusiastic and make silly mistakes. This is something, no doubt, which will be squeezed out of him as he grows into his skin, and many will actually see his zealous for the game as a positive feature.
Even with the news Arsenal are sniffing around and a fee in the region of £15m being mooted, you have to ask yourself the question, why would a young star who is a developing hero at the Vetlins Areana in one of the fastest progressing leagues in world football, join a division whose steady decline is there for all to see, and ultimately become another bit-part player in the Premier League merry-go-round? It would take one hell'va an offer, I'm sure, to even tempt the youngster to jump-sticks and make a move to England.
I, personally, cannot see the 19-year-old departing Schalke in the near future, and as long as he steers clear of any injuries then we can be sure of one thing - Julian Draxler is going to set the footballing world alight.