Why Julian Draxler could add a lot more depth to Chelsea’s attack
The 26-year-old, who joined PSG from Wolfsburg in his homeland back in January 2017, still has a contract at the Parc des Princes until the summer of 2021 but his lack of regular involvement continues to fuel speculations over his future.
Chelsea are expected to be in the market for some significant reinforcements during the mid-season trading period, having had their transfer ban reduced following a successful appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport earlier in the month.
As per the report, Chelsea are keen to flex their muscles in the January window and Frank Lampard has identified certain areas of the squad which are in need of reinvestment.
With club-owner Roman Abramovich handing Lampard a £150 million transfer kitty to bolster his squad in January (h/t Daily Mail), Chelsea have been linked with several top-quality attackers like Jadon Sancho, Timo Werner, Leon Bailey and Wilfried Zaha, and now Julian Draxler has also joined the shortlist of potential targets.
Draxler, who shot to prominence with Schalke in Germany, went on to register an impressive tally of 30 goals and 29 assists in 170 appearances for his boyhood club, and also had a brief stint at Wolfsburg before moving across the continent to join PSG in 2017.
However, he has struggled to establish himself as a regular starter at the French capital, with several other international stalwarts like Angel Di Maria, Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, Mauro Icardi and Edinson Cavani all vying for spots in Thomas Tuchel’s playing eleven.
Despite his limited involvement, the 26-year-old has racked up 20 goals and 26 assists in 127 appearances for PSG with the German set to enter the last 18 months of his contract, a move to the Premier League certainly doesn’t look beyond the realms of possibility.
With Lampard going into the fixture with the same back-three system that worked wonders against Spurs, Chelsea found themselves completely bereft of ideas further up the pitch against a lively and energetic Southampton side struggling for survival in the top-flight.
Indeed, Chelsea’s lack of creativity against a Southampton backline that has one of the worst defensive records in the Premier League this season was simply ridiculous.
Willian, who is out of contract in 2020, still finds his future in limbo despite putting in some top-drawer displays for the club in the first half of the season, whilst fellow out-of-contract veteran, Pedro, has slipped way down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge under Lampard.
Christian Pulisic (5 goals, 2 assists) and Mason Mount (5 goals, 1 assist) have been the key creative outlets for Chelsea alongside Willian (4 goals, 3 assists) while Tammy Abraham has been the go-to man in front of goal for Lampard.
However, it is imperative to say that Chelsea have a relatively young squad with not much depth, and bringing in an experienced attacking midfielder in January could hand a massive boost to the club’s pursuit of a top-four finish in the Premier League.
To put things into perspective, Julian Draxler might have struggled for playtime at PSG but it is easy to see how and why he could be a massive upgrade on Chelsea’s current attacking options.
A World Cup winner with Germany back in 2014 and veteran of over 300 senior competitive appearances for PSG, Schalke and Wolfsburg, all clubs in the elite leagues of Europe, Draxler has already achieved a lot at the age of 26 and he still has plenty more to offer at the highest level.
A tall right-footed creative player who has been primarily used as a left-sided attacking midfielder throughout his career, Draxler is versatile enough to play out wide on the right as an inside forward and through the middle in a central attacking role behind the striker.
Those qualities should make him a perfect fit for the kind of philosophy used by Lampard, who has illustrated his tactical flexibility to rotate between 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 and 3-5-2 formations. Draxler would not only fit anywhere in the three attacking slots in a 4-2-3-1 system but he is also well-equipped to play in a withdrawn No.8 role in a 4-3-3 shape, much like Ross Barkley.
Chelsea’s creativity seems to have faded away from their game over the past month or so and the arrival of Draxler would definitely reduce the burden on the likes of Willian, Pulisic and Mount. Plus, of course, the German has the experience, as well as the physicality, to make a big impression at Stamford Bridge.
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With that in mind, Chelsea completing a raid on PSG for Julian Draxler in January could pay off handsomely as Lampard looks to push on for a top-four finish in his first season as the manager at Stamford Bridge.