Julian Draxler’s adventure in France has been a strange one. From someone who was one of the best young players in Germany at Wolfsburg and Schalke, his career hasn’t gone according to plan in France. And he would now be looking and thinking whether his career is going in the right direction or not.
The 26-year-old joined PSG from Wolfsburg in the winter of 2017 for a fee of £35.5 million pounds. Many thought that this was a move that Draxler deserved for all that he had achieved at Schalke and Wolfsburg.
In the 2015-16 Champions League campaign for the Wolves, Draxler had impressed. He played nine times, scoring thrice and assisting twice. But in the first half of the 2016-17 Bundesliga campaign, he had failed to score in the 13 games that he had played.
There was talk of bad attitude and a casual approach, with a bigger move on the horizon. Draxler was booed by Wolfsburg fans and the club’s sporting director Klaus Allofs had blamed the player himself for the problems that he was facing.
While there was reasonable justification for that, considering how Draxler had been looking for the big move for a while. It had become public knowledge and it hadn’t helped his reputation among the club’s fans.
In his first 17 games of the season for PSG, Draxler was a regular in the 2016-17 season. He scored four times, racking up a tally of two assists too. He was a regular on the left-wing position, missing only two games in that campaign.
The summer of 2017 saw Neymar arrive from Barcelona. Because of that, Draxler’s position changed. The German began to be used in the midfield area by Unai Emery. He played as the most advanced midfielder in a 4-3-3 shape, alongside the likes of Adrien Rabiot, Marco Verratti and young Giovani Lo Celso.
It seemed as though he had found a new position. He was getting on the ball more in central areas- something that helped him make a more direct impact.
That carried on to the last season under Thomas Tuchel. His compatriot often used him closer to goal in an attacking midfield position, bringing the best out of the player. Last season, Draxler played 31 Ligue 1 games, scoring thrice and assisting eight times.
This season, a lot has changed. Draxler did sustain a foot injury that kept him out of 11 games, but Tuchel has played a 4-3-3- shape that changes to a 3-4-3 out of possession. Marquinhos transitions from the defensive midfielder to the centre-back. And Marco Verratti and summer signing Idrissa Gueye are the other two midfielders.
While Tuchel has often changed that approach to having Draxler play in midfield, there are doubts about whether he is a regular starter or not. He did play in Gueye’s position before the former Everton man began playing regularly.
But during his time in Paris, Draxler’s Germany career has been stalling. Since the FIFA World Cup, Draxler has played only 146 minutes of football for the Die Mannschaft. For someone who was once seen as the future of the club, that isn’t a pretty sight.
One thing is for certain- Draxler has changed as a player at PSG. He covers more ground and works harder than he did at Schalke or Wolfsburg. But when he played in the wide areas at in Germany, his contributions were minimal. His time at PSG has given him a new identity and a new approach to the game.
At the age of 26, he still has time in his career. The season wears on after the international break. The games will come thick and fast and there is every chance Draxler plays more regularly than he has. He is now free of injury issues and ready to play regularly.
Tuchel, being German, will give him the first-team football that Draxler needs. It is time for patience and he needs to stick to playing in the French capital.