Julian Draxler 20 Midfielder Schalke Germany
2013 has been…
Generally good, still doing all the things he’s always done. Is he really still only 20 years old? If last year’s report about Julian Draxler focused on his incredible rise to a full international cap for one of the best sides in international football at the tender age of just 18, this year’s is all about the consistency and level of performance he’s been able to achieve. A very mature footballer who seldom seems to make a wrong decision on the ball, he feels like someone nearer their peak than the beginning of their career.
Last season finished with goals in double figures for the first time, Schalke’s Champions League qualification secured, team-mate Lewis Holtby in a Tottenham shirt and a place in Germany’s international squad tied down. At ease in his surroundings this season has continued in the same vein, albeit slightly hampered by a form-sapping injury that he’s hopefully shaken off fully now. He’s managed to get back to his most consistent level of performance, score a good goal in the Champions League against Steaua, an even better one to win their home game against Basel, and continued to show a level of composure for his age that is staggering.
Draxler is an intelligent player and right now he’s in the safest place he can be for his summer ambitions to go to the World Cup. There’s a genuine touch of class about him coupled with a good work rate, the next twelve months will be interesting as we’ll explain below.
There’s a problem to address here and we accept it might not make for wonderful reading for Schalke fans. While it’s true they’re enjoying the Champions League again the fact remains they’re not operating at the highest echelons of European football, and never has this been more telling than when they’ve faced Chelsea. In the two Champions League group stage games they’ve been outclassed, the English club winning 3-0 in both ties. This is a player with over a 100 appearances to his name and a full international for one of the most difficult first elevens to get into at this summer’s World Cup. While it was huge fun to celebrate the contract extension signed in May that keeps him there until 2018, the fact is if he stays there for that length of time it could well be to the detriment of his career.
Draxler, in our opinion, is ready for that elite level of competition now. In recent history he’s been openly courted by Arsenal, Dortmund, Manchester United and Juventus. Beyond them nearly every club who you can typically say will make up the last sixteen of the Champions League have been linked to a greater or lesser degree. In October he gave an interview and admitted that to “if you want to achieve the great goals that the world-class players have, then one of them is playing at the biggest clubs in the world." The reality is that while in the same interview he was at pains to point out how happy he was at Schalke and how much he felt he owed them, it was clear this is a player who has now accepted that he needs to start thinking about the next step.
That move might well be this summer, possibly to a club canny enough to move quickly rather than wait for the good-performances-at-the-World-Cup tax he may well incur. He needs a bigger stage, he’s been all he can be at Schalke already and will be eternally grateful to them for the start, but it’s time to move on if fancies a crack at becoming world class. Really talented but in a comfort zone at the moment, in a decade’s time we really hope he’s at his peak and running things for one of the biggest teams in European football.
“The reported 45m Euro buyout clause in his new contract speaks volumes of what the club, and the rest of Europe, think of Schalke's young starlet. It also helps that, at 19, Draxler is already building a reputation as a big-game player.” – Cristian Nyari, bundesligafanatic.com
“Despite an indifferent start to the season for his club and a troublesome Achilles tendon, Draxler remains one of the Bundesliga’s brightest and he would probably be more feted were he a Bayern or Dortmund player. Nevertheless, his club have yet to demonstrate that they have the squad to match the ambitions his talent demands. As unromantic as it may be Draxler may need to move away from his boyhood club in order to blossom” - Terry Duffelen, Talking Fussball Extra podcast
"Julian Draxler was the youngest player to score 10+ goals during 2012/13 across Europe's big five leagues." - Opta
C+ Still developing very well, we rarely advocate big transfers so early in a career but in this case we would love to see a summer move to a team that suits