German Bundesliga side Schalke 04 ended the domestic campaign in ignominious fashion, missing out on Champions League football, and scraping the last Europa League place in the table. For a side that have consistently finished in the top-four for the last three seasons, 2014/15 has been a real disappointment, and saw manager Roberto Di Matteo resign at the end of the campaign. He may not be the only high-profile exit either, with Schalke boasting a young German talent who will want Champions League football next season – Julian Draxler.
The tricky winger, 21, missed a large portion of the campaign, and his absence was telling as Schalke considerably faltered as the season unfolded. He made just eight league starts, scoring and assisting three goals for his troubles, and has little motivation to remain at the Veltins-Arena past the summer. His asking price was sky high a couple of years ago, but the Blues have little power now given their plight. Draxler has made no public indication to leave, and Schalke are his boyhood club (with a 14-year association), but with the likes of Arsenal showing an interest, his exit seems inevitable.
He’s in a key period in his career where the next long-term contract he signs could take him up to his peak age, so he will want to be enjoying his best football from next season onwards. The goals have dried up in the last two years, but any interested suitors would be making an investment. His injury has slowed down his season, but Draxler has shown real moments of quality on the grand stage in Europe.
Some glistening Champions League performances will stick in the mind of the scouts eyeing him up, and under the right guidance he could really shine. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has a long-standing reputation of his work with young players, building a squad full of former youth stars he developed. Draxler would have German teammates to lean on initially too, with World Cup winners Per Mertesacker and Mesut Ozil regular first-teamers.
But Arsenal aren’t the only team interested in such a talented player, so they are sure to have stiff competition as the season comes to a close in Europe. He still won’t be cheap either, as Schalke will try to take advantage of all the interest, but a move could be on the cards, more than it would have ever been a year or two ago.
Will Julian Draxler leave Schalke 04 this summer?