16 June 2015

Lebewohl, Lukas. Could Podolski's departure open the door to Draxler?

Amid reports that Lukas Podolski has been sold to Galatasaray for some £1.4m, potentially clearing his £100,000 weekly wage from Arsenal's books, minds wander to whom we might sign to shore up that left side, where we don't have many "true" options other than playing someone out of position (Aaron? Fancy a run-out on the left?), another German comes to mind, one we haven't flirted with since January 2014: Julian Draxler. The pacey left-winger might be available, with a release-clause of some £34m, not outrageous and well within our wheelhouse.

Our flirtation with Draxler in January 2014 came at a time unlikely to lead to a deal—significant deals rarely happen in January unless there are extraordinary circumstances at one or both clubs. At our end, we're apparently not voracious enough to push for blockbuster-deals in the winter, and Schalke were under no pressure to sell as they were in fine form, finishing third in the Bundesliga and qualifying for the 2014-15 Champions League, where they lost to Real Madrid in the knockout phase.

However, like Borussia Dortmund, Schalke struggled in the Bundesliga this time through, falling to sixth, just good enough to qualify for Europa League play. Similarly, Draxler struggled, sidelined for a significant chunk of the season by a hamstring injury that limited him to 15 league appearances. He made a confident return in March, though, and looks ready to revive the form that made him such a darling a season ago.

Speaking of that time, it's possible that our dalliance with Draxler might endear us all the more to him, and the prospect of playing in the Prem for a title-contender that has also qualified for the Champions League might make a deal all the more likely—far from certain, of course, just "more likely." At just 21, he's yet to hit his full stride, and his versatility would make him a strong match for our set-up. He can play all across the front-line, dribbles and shoots equally well with both foot, and is a big,physical presence (1.87m). He's been dubbed the German Ronaldo, which might be a bit hyperbolic. His hometown, after all, is a stone's throw from the Netherlandishian border and—oh. I'm being told that the hyperbole refers to the "Ronaldo" comparison...and that Netherlandishian isn't a word.

The best news of all, at least at this point, is that Draxler's name hasn't yet started making the rounds and therefore conforms to Wenger's Law of Inverse Relationships, which specifies the following:
[t]here exists an inverse relationship between how early and numerous are the rumors linking us to a player and the likelihood of us signing him.
That is, the less is said, the better. That doesn't mean that Petr Čech is now off-limits or that we will sign Draxler; it only means I pulled Wenger's Law from out of my arse.

Draxler would make for a great fit for our set-up while potentially being groomed to become a full-time centre-forward, something that has been part of Arsène's interest in the man. Would his arrival, though, solve our centre-forward needs? One thing's sure: there's plenty of time to ponder it over the next 76 days before the transfer-window closes...