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Julian Draxler at Bayern's opponent PSG: The shadow player

2021-04-07T12:19:30.333Z

Julian Draxler plays for Paris St.-Germain. But his career could have been bigger, and one wonders: Is there anything else to come? Now he is faced with a landmark decision.



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Sometimes a ghost?

Julian Draxler (right) has been playing for Paris St. Germain since 2017

Photo: 

FRANCK FIFE / AFP

If a single game can describe a career, Julian Draxler's recent appearance came pretty close.

In the league summit between Paris St. Germain and Lille on Saturday, the German national player came on in the 64th minute when the score was 0: 1.

Just like he is almost always substituted on.

Draxler, 27, immediately proved to be stimulating: the head up, the body stretched out, calm and clarity on the ball, a perfect technique.

But with every minute he made less and in the end no difference.

0: 1, Draxler just went under.

Somehow something moved, but somehow not either.

Somehow there, but not irreplaceable.

Somehow, from the outside, this career is not going the way it should.

Julian Draxler, that was the player around whom Matthias Sammer, then DFB sports director, started a bizarre argument with Schalke coach Felix Magath about the pros and cons of dropping out of school early: Because he was so good at 17.

Draxler simply laughed off the debate, whirled around with Raúl, who was twice his age, and was considered Schalke's answer to Dortmund's Mario Götze.

At least.

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Draxler at a corner: never really a fixed size

Photo: 

FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Götze is playing at PSV Eindhoven today, far from the Champions League.

Draxler competes with last year's finalist Paris in the quarter-finals at Bayern Munich (9 p.m. / live ticker at SPIEGEL.de; TV: Sky).

This comparison alone shows that everything is a question of perspective.

But that also includes the fact that he was recently not nominated for the national team.

Joachim Löw, who has always been considered his sponsor, seems to have written off the captain and "Golden Ball" winner in Germany's last better football summer - the 2017 Confederation Cup.

"Not so happy with the development," said DFB director Oliver Bierhoff - also a long-time supporter of Draxler, by the way.

There are few players who ask so many more questions than they give answers, and nobody in France knows them better than in Germany.

National coaches require their professionals to be regular players in the club.

Draxler has bad arguments: He hasn't been for years.

Why not?

And why did he never rebel?

Why did he never look for a change of club, which Paris was at times not averse to?

There are few players who ask so many more questions than they give answers, and nobody in France knows them better than in Germany.

"Littered" and "wasted" is what "L'Équipe" calls the liaison with the PSG.

Bixente Lizarazu, world champion from 1998, made even more drastic statements these days to the "kicker".

Draxler lacks "fighting spirit and temperament", he is "sometimes a ghost".

More footballers for the room than for the beer mat

This reflective and eloquent professional actually often exuded a certain phlegm on the pitch.

He's certainly more of a footballer for the room than someone who dances on the beer mat, and not all games produce situations that suit him particularly well.

But that doesn't explain everything.

Bad luck doesn't do that either, although it already existed.

In April 2016 he showed a brilliant match in VfL Wolfsburg's 2-0 quarter-final against Real Madrid, perhaps the most important of his career.

A week later in the second leg, he was injured early, a bleak 0: 3 meant the end.

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In 2017 Draxler (center) won the Confed Cup with the German national team as captain and was named the best player of the tournament

Photo: FIFA via Getty Images

From Schalke to Wolfsburg, from Wolfsburg to Paris: from today's perspective, it is easy to see these unconventional changes, which are controversial because of the accompanying circumstances, as a mistake.

But when Draxler came to Paris in January 2017, he immediately landed in the regular eleven.

Soon he was one of the top performers in the best game the sheik project has delivered to date: a 4-0 win in the round of 16 against FC Barcelona.

But again there was a second leg, and not just any.

At 1: 6, all the football gods conspired against the PSG.

The course of the game wasn't as clear as the result, but no one had to tell Qatar that.

The wounded emir bought Neymar and Mbappé, two stars for the line of scrimmage, in which there was no longer any space for Draxler.

It is difficult to tell the following years other than a story of agony.

At first he was still something like the number twelve, but his share continued to decline, and there were wounds.

Even if he always made a certain number of appearances in the league, he was never a permanent fixture in the team.

First Unai Emery, then Thomas Tuchel began to use Draxler deeper in the central midfield.

In Ligue 1, Draxler had enough technical ability to play a good role as eighth.

In the important games in the Champions League, however, others started in the control center.

Draxler's starting line-up in the last knockout round second leg against Barcelona was the first in the European Cup in two years.

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Draxler 2013 at his training club Schalke 04

Photo: Thomas Niedermueller / Bongarts / Getty Images

But maybe it is also a question of perspective here: Draxler provided financial support with the involvement in Paris.

He plays in one of the most glamorous teams in the world and he uses the time in France to develop personally.

He has a distance learning management degree, plans a career as an entrepreneur after his career and speaks several languages ​​(currently studying Spanish).

Draxler, it is said from his environment, evaluates his career to the exclusion of what public opinion of him is.

After all, coach Mauricio Pochettino has been relying more on him recently.

The Argentine likes something similar about Draxler like Löw: the versatility, the clean technology at high speed, which makes him so suitable for the modern switching game.

Pochettino should significantly support the effort to extend the German's contract, which expires in the summer.

Pragmatic considerations also advise: In Corona times without a large purchasing budget, players are reluctant to give away players, as happened to the French last summer with Thiago Silva, Edinson Cavani or Thomas Meunier.

The PSG, it is said, only offers Draxler a salary that is adjusted to the crisis.

However, it is not particularly likely that Draxler will stay in Paris again.

Negotiations are currently underway with other clubs.

Well-known ones should be there, one hears.

At 27, Draxler is still as much a man of the future as he is of the past.

In that he comes to a world championship, three French leagues and a Champions League final.

But apart from the Confed Cup and a DFB Cup with Schalke as a 17-year-old final scorer, he was more likely to achieve all of this as a shadow player.

Someone who was also there somehow.

Now he has to decide how best to step into the light.

Source: spiegel

All sports articles on 2021-04-07

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