In the grand scheme of things, £30 million is not a big deal. Especially not for a cash-rich outfit like PSG, which they recently spent on Wolfsburg’s Julian Draxler. Rather, the question is as to whether Les Parisiens should have even considered bringing in the young German to the Parc des Princes at this point in time. Let’s have a look at the positives – and negatives – of what he could bring for Unai Emery’s side, who are struggling to make the grade both in Ligue 1 and in the Champions League this season.
A questionable path to the Parc des Princes
Draxler is currently 23. In footballing years, that still puts him somewhat into the “still has yet to fully discover his potential” category. Back in 2011, he made history as the youngest ever player to debut for Schalke, which garnered the attention of clubs like Arsenal, Manchester City, Real Madrid…and Juventus, who aggressively chased him in the summer of 2015.
The Bianconeri may not just yet be in the same category of La Liga giants Real Madrid and Barcelona, but they certainly do deserve to be placed in that group that are just under the Spanish duo in terms of quality (which could include teams like PSG, as well as Manchester City, Arsenal, and Borussia Dortmund), Furthermore, Juventus can certainly offer something that Schalke can’t – and that’s some silverware, having clinched the Scudetto over the past few seasons.
But despite the promise of trophies and an overall better squad – without sounding disrespectful to Schalke – Draxler opted to thumb his nose at the Turin titans. Perhaps life in the bel paese was not so appealing to the young German; maybe it was the money, the playing style, the prospect of having to learn a new language, what have you. In any case, La Vecchia Signora, like any other big side certainly doesn’t appreciate being snubbed, especially after placing all their faith in securing a major signing. And he opted to go instead to Wolfsburg – who have been absolutely dismal this term. Draxler hasn’t exactly done much to replace Kevin De Bruyne nor really show why he forced his way out of Schalke to join them in the first place.
And now he’s done the same to join Les Parisiens. It goes without saying that he will have a lot to prove at the capital giants.
Failing to make the grade at Wolfsburg
Yes, Wolfsburg have struggled this season, as noted before, and all of that can’t be put on any one player’s shoulders. Draxler, unfortunately, has not covered himself in glory, either. Plenty of teams have not impressed across Europe, yet there are individual players who have shone. Just look at Palermo in Serie A. The Rosanero are set for a return to Serie B, yet Macedonian talent Ilija Nestorovski continues to try to carry the team with seven out of their 14 goals. Or veteran striker Jermaine Defoe, who has scored all but eight of Sunderland’s 19 goals in the Premier League as the Black Cats face a desperate fight to avoid the drop.
Draxler does not fall into the one-man hero category. Wolfsburg aren’t really in danger of relegation per se, but they certainly could be once the Bundesliga season resumes in a few weeks. They have earned 16 points and are three away from the play-off spots. During the first half of the season, he played 13 games, and scored zero goals despite making over 20 attempts. His public criticism of his then employers also put a bad taste in observers’ mouths and reeked of desperation as well as a general lack of professionalism, to say the least.
Plenty of players have struggled at varied clubs before coming alive when arriving on new shores. And at 23, Draxler does have time on his side to turn things around, but will face a mountain to climb to convince PSG fans based on his past experience at Wolfsburg.
At 23, time is on Draxler’s side, but he still needs to be careful
However, there are some positives. As noted before, he’s only 23. In footballing terms, that means he has quite a few years left to achieve big things. After all, we’re seeing players “on the wrong side of 30” doing well. Just look at Manchester United’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic still going strong at the ripe “old” age of 35. In any case, time is on his side. A caveat, however, that same time can go against him. There are countless stories of players who once were touted as the “next big thing” who have failed to reach their potential.
PSG have not been at their very best this season, meaning that the pressure will be on him to produce and hit the ground running. Les Parisiens have dominated the Ligue 1 landscape for the past few terms, and with the kind of money they’re spending, nothing short of winning yet another league crown will suffice.
So, all in all, is Draxler a wise investment for PSG? Based on his past showings, the answer is no. He did impress at Schalke. But in the grand scheme of things, football is indeed an unpredictable thing. That is what makes the beautiful game that much more fascinating. And it indeed will be very interesting to see whether Ligue 1, which has managed to help revive the careers of players like Mario Balotelli and Radamel Falcao, will be the same ground where Julian Draxler can finally achieve his full and deserved potential.
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