PSG move ends Draxler de­ba­cle

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS - By AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE in Ber­lin

Ju­lian Draxler had the world at his feet when Wolfs­burg paid Schalke $37.3 mil­lion in Au­gust 2015 for Ger­many’s ris­ing star.

“We’re con­vinced Ju­lian will develop fur­ther with us,” beamed Wolfs­burg’s then-di­rec­tor of sport Klaus Allofs af­ter Draxler signed to re­place Manch­ester Ci­ty­bound Kevin De Bruyne.

Wolfs­burg con­firmed on Satur­day that the at­tack­ing mid­fielder was join­ing Paris Saint-Ger­main in a five-year deal re­ported to be worth around $49 mil­lion.

Back in 2015, Draxler wanted to play in the Cham­pi­ons League with Wolfs­burg, which had just beaten Bay­ern Mu­nich in a penalty shootout to win the Ger­man Su­per Cup.

But by De­cem­ber 2016, the winger re­peat­edly made it clear he wished to leave, prompt­ing Wolfs­burg to kick him out of its squad for their 5-0 league loss at Bay­ern.

At 23, with a World Cup win­ner’s medal in his pocket and 27 caps for his coun­try, Draxler was sud­denly too big for Wolfs­burg.

“This kind of at­ti­tude al­ways brings con­fu­sion in a team,” said Wolfs­burg coach Va­le­rien Is­mael.

“If you fo­cus on some­thing, you have to put all your heart into it.”

Wolfs­burg striker Mario Gomez was sure how the club should have han­dled its busi­ness. “Those who want to leave should be al­lowed to go. It should have al­ready been set­tled in the sum­mer!” said the 33-year-old.

Draxler first said he wanted out in Au­gust, but his re­quest was ig­nored by then­coach Di­eter Heck­ing, who was fired in Oc­to­ber by Allofs, who in turn left in De­cem­ber fol­low­ing poor re­sults.

Wolfs­burg fig­ured it was not an op­tion to let its star go less than a year af­ter sign­ing him, but things went from bad to worse for the team in the Bun­desliga.

Draxler did not even cel­e­brate with fans af­ter their 1-0 vic­tory against Ein­tra­cht Frank­furt on Dec 18 in the club’s last league match of the year.

There was lit­tle sign of the trou­ble ahead in Draxler’s first sea­son.

He helped Wolfs­burg qual­ify top of its group for the Cham­pi­ons League’s knock­out stages for the first time in its his­tory as it pro­gressed with a 3-2 home win against Manch­ester United.

Draxler ran the match, then daz­zled again in the 2-0 tri­umph against vis­i­tor Real Madrid in the quar­ter-fi­nals, be­fore Wolfs­burg bowed out af­ter a 3-0 loss in the re­turn leg in the Span­ish cap­i­tal.

Wolfs­burg fin­ished eighth in the Bun­desliga last term, miss­ing out on a Europa League spot, and Draxler re­turned from Euro 2016 hav­ing played five of Ger­many’s six games.

Train to Ber­lin

When Der Spiegel mag­a­zine asked what was the nicest thing about Wolfs­burg, a city dom­i­nated by auto man­u­fac­turer Volkswagen, he replied: “The short train jour- ney to Ber­lin.”

Draxler has al­ways been a pre­co­cious tal­ent – pacy, an ex­cel­lent reader of the game and strong in the tackle.

He joined Schalke as an eight-year-old, and later set a club record by mak­ing his Bun­desliga de­but in 2011, aged 17 years and 117 days.

He had yet to turn 18 when he set two Ger­man Cup records in the 2011 fi­nal as the youngest player to ap­pear and score in Schalke’s 5-0 thrash­ing of Duis­burg.

He made his Ger­many de­but at 18, as a sub­sti­tute in a 5-3 friendly loss to Switzer­land in May 2012.

In Jan­uary 2014, Bri­tish news­pa­per The Ob­server named him, along with the likes Manch­ester United’s Paul Pogba and Ever­ton’s Romelu Lukaku, amongst Europe’s top 10 young­sters.

At 20 years and 265 days, he be­came the youngest player to cap­tain Ger­many, in a friendly against Poland in May 2014, and made the cut for the World Cup, com­ing off the bench in the 7-1 semi-fi­nal hu­mil­i­a­tion of Brazil.

PHO­TOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Ger­many mid­fielder Ju­lian Draxler, pic­tured (right) in ac­tion for for­mer club Schalke, is join­ing French gi­ant Paris Saint-Ger­main from Bun­desliga club Wolfs­burg in a deal re­port­edly worth around $49 mil­lion.

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