• Premier League

Draxler just the job for Arsenal

John Cross
January 30, 2014
Is Draxler the right player for Arsenal?

Never play poker with Arsene Wenger. His stony face and denials about transfers are something of a standing joke among some of us journos who cover Arsenal regularly.

So Arsenal's interest in Julian Draxler, accompanied by Wenger's rebuttals, should not come as a surprise.

Just look at what Wenger said post-Coventry last week, when the news conference was dominated with questions about the Schalke target.

Wenger's response was along the lines of: "Don't you think I've got enough midfielders already?" And to be honest, he probably has. Or at least until a few injuries have bitten into his squad.

But then came a follow-up question about whether he sees Draxler as being a striker in the long term. "We don't rule anything out."

That was more like it. And as the story gathers pace, with Arsenal pressing on before the window shuts on Friday, that is as good as you are going to get from Wenger in terms of confirmation.

Because Wenger does see Draxler in a striking role in the future.

And he might just come in useful in midfield with Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky all carrying niggles in that position.

But Draxler is strong, powerful and has an eye for goal, and that is why Arsenal see him as a potential No. 9.

Wenger turned Robin van Persie from being a wide player, a forward, into being an out-and-out striker. He is now one of the best in the world.

Van Persie, like Draxler, has great technical quality and is happy to play in various positions.

The other point about this deal is that Arsenal know they may have to get their man now - or risk losing out in the summer when they will face added competition for one of Europe's brightest young talents.

In my opinion, there's a deal there to be done. Arsenal have the money, Schalke may yet accept a good offer on him before his release clause becomes valid in the summer and Draxler is keen.

Arsenal have watched him for a long time. It was widely reported last summer that Arsenal went for him, but ended up with Mesut Ozil.

Wenger needs a boost for his squad as they are beginning to look a bit tired and have fixtures piling up. They need an Ozil-style lift.

Ozil has been a bit in and out since his £42 million arrival. But his very presence and the statement made by his signing gave Arsenal a boost.

Draxler can do exactly the same, and in the long term, Arsenal will have landed a quality player, having beaten their rivals to the punch for a talent they can play in whichever role is required.

He looks well made for English football. Powerful, young, with pace and strength. It is a matter of a race against time and agreeing to a deal with Schalke.

In my view, Arsenal need reinforcements now to keep their season going and momentum high. They have also been in the market for a striker. But that may be a short-term deal as, in the long term, Draxler can fill that space.

John Cross is a football reporter for the Daily Mirror. He's been on the Mirror for 15 years. He regularly covers Arsenal and has done throughout Arsene Wenger's reign. Follow John on Twitter @johncrossmirror

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