21 Midfielder Schalke 04 Germany
2014 has been...
…lacking something, not 100% certain what, but definitely lacking something.
Early into a game against Ausburg in October, Julian Draxler went down with a torn right hamstring and his 2014 was over. Expected to return at some point in late-January after surgery and recovery, it finished what for us has been a slightly frustrating year.
Draxler is a talented and influential player who looks, unfortunately, like he’s going through the motions as things stand. His form’s not been desperately bad or exceptionally good, it’s just base-lined at a level that his formative years in the game suggest may be below par. He went to the World Cup in the summer, a sign of the esteem in which he is held by Jogi Löw, but only played 14 minutes of football, coming on with the score at 6-0 in that semi-final and the game over. The call up is a huge indicator of the talent within, the form you can point to as actual evidence he’s ahead of others came a year ago. This is a slight worry.
It’s not, by any stretch, been a bad year. Schalke have been in transition, there’s been a couple of niggling injuries and one big one, and going away to the World Cup regardless of how long you spend on the pitch will still inhibit rest and recovery over the summer. He’s a young man and it’s not his fault we expect a lot, but then we only take the position because we’ve seen what he can do when at his best.
So far this season before the injury we’ve had a couple of goals, a red card and a few moments that remind you how good he is (a standout performance and goal in October against Hertha come to mind) but we just want a bit more of everything. Is that too much to ask of a young man who has already played a lot of football in his career? Maybe, but it’s because we remain such huge fans of Draxler.
Last year we suggested his time with Schalke may have been coming to an end and it was time to move on. We rarely advocate a move at a young age for a player who’s settled and in the first team, but here is a case of a player that has stalled. He’s not doing anything wrong, he’s not slipping backwards in dramatic fashion per se, but he’s not wowing in the way he once did. His development has slowed and while still an excellent young player, something suddenly looks like it’s missing.
The list of clubs waiting for the potential move to happen is vast. Arsenal are huge admirers, as are most of the Premier League’s traditional big guns. The environment at Schalke has changed from when he played his best football and we can’t help but feel the constant speculation needs to end. He needs to make the right move for himself and staying at Schalke doesn’t feel like an option. The injury has meant most won’t risk a mega-money move in January for an injured player, but in the summer he needs to pick his next challenge.
We’ve not given up the faith by any means; he’s still an exceptional young player and will spend his career at the top of the European game for certain. We just think this last year has proved that he’s treading water as things stand. There might be a future at Schalke for him under Di Matteo’s management but we’re not convinced. Time for a bit of revolution before the next evolution - new club, new start, push on.
“Julian has the skills to be a top player but is still very much a victim of his club's operational issues. If Roberto Di Matteo's team can settle then there still may be a role for a title challenging Schalke team in the future. Otherwise, for the sake of his own development, he should consider a move” – Terry Duffelen
"Despite only turning 21 in September, Julian Draxler has already played 109 Bundesliga games - scoring 17 goals and assisting 13 in that time." - OptaJoe
C- Currently idling at the lights when he should be speeding away into the distance, there’s a list of clubs a mile long wanting to take him, feels like it’s time to pick one.
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