PSG move ends Draxler debacle
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.
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.