[dropcap]T[/dropcap]aking on Bayern Munich in a Bundesliga title challenge is a task out of the capabilities of most sides, with last season’s closest rivals an impressive Wolfsburg outfit.
The Volkswagen Arena side has wealthy backers, talented players and an ardent fan base – but their success on the pitch in 2014-15 was largely due to one very gifted individual.
Kevin De Bruyne was justifiably named as the Bundesliga Player of the Year after a stunning campaign that included ten goals and an incredible 20 assists from a central playmaking role.
The Belgian was always likely to be in high demand in the summer and there was certainly an inevitability about his move to Manchester City.
Wolfsburg, keen not to lose any momentum despite losing their key man, moved quickly to sign an imperious replacement that has the football world at his feet.
Julian Draxler is a name that has been in the collective conscience for some time, with the versatile German attacking midfielder commonly adjudged as one of Europe’s brightest young talents.
Since emerging from the Schalke youth academy and subsequently showcasing his stellar abilities in the Gelsenkirchen first team, the world has been waiting for the craftsman to take his play to the next level and become a global star.
However, despite fleeting moments of brilliance, Draxler has not lived up to his full potential as yet in a young career that has had its fair share of setbacks.
Injuries have certainly played their part in delaying the 22-year-old’s progress and prevented him from building momentum over prolonged periods.
This has been complemented by dips in form, as the youngster still has a lot to learn about the game regardless of his immaculate technique and significant potential.
Wolfsburg’s decision to splurge on Draxler as De Bruyne’s replacement was certainly not a gamble given his talent, but the Gladbeck-born starlet has sizeable shoes to fill.
Interestingly, Draxler has been afforded the Belgian’s old central role this term, taking him away from the predominantly wide positions he operated from at Schalke.
There certainly has been evidence to suggest that the 22-year-old’s best position will be behind a lone striker, as it allows him to get involved in play more often and have an influence in his team’s attack.
Draxler has been in good form this season and put in strong performances in important games against Borussia Dortmund and Manchester United over the last fortnight.
He was selected to start for Germany in the recent international friendly with France and there is every likelihood he will be in the world champions’ squad for next summer’s Euro 2016 tournament.
The nature of his assist to allow Vieirinha to score against United was an example of Draxler at his scintillating best.
A drop of a shoulder left experienced compatriot Bastian Schweinsteiger bamboozled, quick feet saw him attack the heart of the English team’s defence and clever inter-plays allowed the Portuguese attacker to score and displayed Draxler’s footballing intelligence.
Despite this, the problem remains that the 22-year-old does not produce this scintillating end product on a frequent enough basis to be comparative to someone like De Bruyne.
Three Bundesliga assists for his new employers have been welcome but there is still the accusation that the German’s final ball can be better, while a solitary strike continues the trend of the midfielder simply not scoring enough goals.
After four years in the Schalke first-team, a change of scenery and a licence to roam in the number ten position will be refreshing for this young star.
With a role to play for the German national side and the fact that he is a key man at a Champions League club, Draxler now has the platform to fulfil his promise, as the world waits for him to take his performances to the next level.
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