Julian Draxler proves to Arsenal and Chelsea that he is the real deal
Schalke 04 forward Julian Draxler produces an eye-catching performance at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night
Julian Draxler shouldn’t worry about a lack of suitors after underlining just why he is coveted by some of Europe’s top clubs with a brilliant performance at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night.
The 20-year-old last month admitted that his performances in the 2013-14 season didn’t warrant his £37m price tag, despite coming close to an Arsenal move last January.
But Schalke will have to fight to keep the forward after he conjured a brilliant 46-minute cameo against Premier League leaders Chelsea which almost inspired the German side to a famous win.
The Gladback-born forward was muted in the opening exchanges in west London as Chelsea’s two key talisman, Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas, orchestrated the Champions League Group G clash.
The former Arsenal midfielder edged Chelsea ahead in the 11th minute, and the Blues were expected to ease through the gears as Jose Mourinho’s side have done in the Premier League this season.
But Didier Drogba, Fabregas and Hazard missed opportunities to double Chelsea’s lead, and a particularly harrowing miscue from the Spain midfielder shocked Schalke – and Draxler – into life.
The Bundesliga outfit should have finished the first half level with the Blues as Arsenal target Draxler created a danger moment out of nothing.
He drove past Nemanja Matic, Branislav Ivanovic and Gary Cahill before throwing in a couple of dummies to fool the retreating England defender and buy vital space before dragging his finish wide.
Schalke manager Jens Keller was growing increasingly optimistic on the sideline, and he with reason too, as Draxler’s rhythm wasn’t disrupted by the half-time break.
At 6ft 2ins, Draxler is the same height as Chelsea forward Didier Drogba. But the Schalke youngster is remarkably nimble and quick-footed, whilst possessing great balance to glide past opposing defenders.
Not only is Draxler a smooth mover, he can bring team-mates into play with brisk one-touch passing, which helped Schalke play their way out of trouble or put Chelsea on the back-foot on a number of occasions.
The highlight for Draxler came in the second half as he rolled the ball away from Willian and Cesc Fabregas and found a team-mate before receiving the return pass and pirouetting past Matic.
There is an end product, too. Draxler collected the ball inside his own half after Fabregas lost possession, showed pace and power to run past Ramires, before teeing up Klaas-Jan Huntelaar for the equaliser.
According to ArsenalFan TV’s Moh Haider, Draxler confirmed that he had wanted to join the north London club in the January transfer window as he left his hotel for the clash at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
It is unlikely, though, that Arsene Wenger could justify signing another forward following the £16m arrival of Danny Welbeck, as well as the lack of defensive cover and the need of for a holding midfielder.
Draxler did leave London with an English club’s shirt, and having been previously linked with a move to Stamford Bridge, it would be no surprise to see the forward in west London blue in the future.