You may remember Julian Draxler.
He was linked with Arsenal every sodding window under Arsene Wenger, who seemingly made it his life goal to sign the German.
For good reason, too. Julian Draxler was the guy for a healthy number of years, excelling at Schalke 04 and VfL Wolfsburg before eventually joining Paris Saint-Germain at the beginning of 2017. He had flair, skill, was interchangeable across the frontline, with age very much on his side.
Three years on, he still has the latter. He’s only 26 years old – the famed age bracket where you’re at the peak of your powers – except his powers have faded. Faded into a bit-part role in France. That is understandable, when as a club you boast Kylian Mbappe, Mauro Icardi, Neymar and Angel Di Maria in attack, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.
Draxler hasn’t kicked on in Ligue 1. There really isn’t any excuse for that considering the quality of opposition in France is not at the level of the Bundesliga. With such a star-studded cast alongside him, he should have been raking in the goals and setting up countless assists. 11 league goals and 20 assists since then prove he hasn’t.
As Arsenal look to lure any interested party into a deal to take Matteo Guendouzi off their hands, the opportunity has arisen to make Wenger’s wish finally come true. L’Equipe have revealed that PSG are willing to include Draxler in a deal to sign the midfielder this window, in a bid to lower their overall outlay.
Could the German flourish under new management at a different environment, find the league to suit his style and become the player many touted him to be? Sure, why not. Mikel Arteta has proven that he can get the very best out of those who seem beyond repair.
What goes against the above is that Draxler supposedly doesn’t want to leave PSG. Not interested in leaving the club. Happy where he is.
As his place in the starting lineup fades ever greater by the day, such a decision doesn’t paint the forward in a bright light. You’d like to imagine a player who struggles to get into the starting lineup, at a crucial point in their career, would be angling for greater involvement, likely elsewhere.
Yes, you can caveat that by stating the obvious difference in quality between the two teams. One half were Champions League finalists, the other knocked out of the Europa League round of 32. Furthermore, with just 12 months left on his deal, it may be a case of waiting for his deal to run down, thus enticing more suitors next summer. But we’re being sceptical here.
Then, of course, there is the matter of need. Draxler has played in nigh-on every position in front of the back four, with attacking midfielder and winger his most regular slots. Arsenal need an attacking midfielder. They don’t need him.
What is required is a ready-made player to slot into the side and adopt Arteta’s methods immediately. Recent form and the manner with which PSG play, a style heavily reliant on feeding Mbappe and Neymar at any given opportunity, is not one Arteta employs.
Tactical astuteness off the ball is integral, an element that rarely comes into play for PSG since they, well, always have the ball.
As seen in the recent Champions League season, and beyond, Houssem Aouar is a player who embodies all those characteristics, far more than his German counterpart. If it were four or so years ago, however, it would have been the perfect fit.
Wenger’s intricate style in attacking thirds, based on making multiple avenues out of apparent cul de sacs, would have seen Draxler slot in effortlessly. Arsenal are not at that point now, though, their needs differ.
Aouar is that man. Draxler was that man. He’s the answer to a problem Arsenal don’t have.