With the news that Jamie Vardy is set to turn down a move to Arsenal to stay at Leicester City, stories have unsurprisingly begun to emerge about other potential targets for the Gunners.
One familiar name that has resurfaced is that of German international Julian Draxler. Could now be the time for Arsene Wenger to finally move for his man?
Arsenal hold a long-term interest in Draxler. In January 2014, he was strongly linked with a move from Schalke. However, the move never materialised, and Draxler eventually ended up joining Wolfsburg for around £30 million last summer summer.
However, he has not enjoyed a particularly good first year with his new club. Some spurious reports in Germany have even suggested he might want to move on after just 12 months.
That news will be of interest to Wenger, who is clearly still tracking Draxler’s development. Asked by a Japanese TV station (h/t Metro) about young talent he was looking forward to watching at Euro 2016, Wenger said: “it will be very interesting to follow what Draxler is doing, he’s still a very young player.”
Wenger is right. Even if the move to Wolfsburg hasn’t quite panned out as planned—and two goals in the last 16 of the Champions League suggest he hasn’t been a complete disaster there—he is still only 22. That’s the same age Thierry Henry was when he joined the club after a difficult spell with Juventus. There is still plenty of time to get Draxler’s career back on track.
There’ll certainly be plenty of opportunity to watch him in action this summer. Draxler has started each of Germany’s first two group games, seizing his opportunity in the absence of the injured Marco Reus.
Watching Draxler, Wenger will have been struck by the same intoxicating qualities that initiated his interest. He is quick, elegant in possession, with an immaculate first-touch and impressive two-footedness. His close control and shooting ability is somewhat reminiscent of a young Robin van Persie, but his speed and dribbling gives him a more varied threat. The potential is obvious, and Wenger is exactly the sort of coach to help Draxler fulfil his undoubted talent.
It remains to be seen whether he would be considered as an alternative to Vardy. Back in 2014, the theory was that Wenger would seek to repurpose Draxler as a centre-forward, much as he had done with Henry and Van Persie. However, the German has played the vast majority of his football as a pure No. 10 or on the flank.
No matter—Arsenal need reinforcements there too. The Gunners will require more goals from midfield if they’re serious about challenging for the league next year, and Draxler could help provide them. The thought of him teaming up with Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez to support a new striker is certainly an appealing one.
It may be the case that Wenger would have to see Draxler at close quarters in training to discover how best to deploy him. The Arsenal boss has previously admitted he originally intended to use Lukas Podolski as a striker, before observing him at London Colney led him to the conclusion he was more effective on the flanks.
Whatever position he might end up in, Draxler would undoubtedly be a good addition to the Arsenal squad. With the Vardy deal now seemingly off the table, it’s vital Arsenal start progressing talks with other targets. If Draxler impresses at the Euros, he could well be towards the top of Arsene Wenger’s shopping list.