Considering how Arsene Wenger has been stereotyped as economical when it comes to transfer spending, it was somewhat of a shock when he agreed to a £42.4m acquisition of former Real Madrid number ten Mesut Ozil, a purchase that smashed the club's previous record fee by three.
Six months on and Wenger could almost double his transfer outlay for the season with the recruitment of Germany's next hot forward; FC Schalke 04 wunderkind Julian Draxler, a winger/forward blessed with footballing elegance, with jet-like pace and good height - 6ft 2in. Comfortable on the left flank, Draxler is renowned for his ability to run with the football, for his box-bound crossing, long-range efforts on goal and his vision when it comes to the pass.
This season, though, he has suffered periods where he was off-form when judging by the high standards set in previous years. In all competitions this season, inclusive of Champions League qualifiers and the DFB-Pokal, Draxler has returned five goals and eight assists (13 in total) from 25 appearances. Last season, in Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League competition, he returned 22 goals and assists from 39 matches (seven of his ten league goals came in the second half of the season).
Capable of providing key chances in the most unorthodox of ways, whether it is disguising an assist to a team-mate by showing an opponent his toe then passing with his ankle, taking on and beating a full-back with a mesmerising dribbling ability, or hitting a 35-yard trivela pass into the path of an open attacker - when on his game, Draxler is sublime.
The Arsenal link is not a new one… the player himself even spoke of the aesthetically-pleasing style of football that is played inside the Emirates Stadium: 'You have big clubs like Arsenal - of course it's a big dream to play for them. I have always said English teams are very big clubs and Arsenal is of course one of them.
'I sometimes speak to Mesut [Ozil] or Per [Mertesacker] about the team, about the club, and they always have good words and they tell me nice things. You never know what happens… but Arsenal is a very, very nice team. They always have very young players, they play attractive football and that is what I like.'
Should Arsenal launch a successful bid for the youngster, it is believed Arsene Wenger may do to Draxler what he did to Robin van Persie and, formerly, to Thierry Henry. That is, take a left-sided forward and move them centrally, into the striking role.
Statistically, how does Draxler compare to other notable left-sided forwards?
From the data above, it is clear that Draxler's strongest asset when compared to his rivals is his prolific dribbling. While Chelsea's attacker Eden Hazard is credited with four additional dribble attempts, he has competed in more matches. Draxler also has an identical passing accuracy to Barcelona forward Neymar, is the most accurate with through balls out of all the players listed yet has - this season - scored the fewest goals; just one.
While Draxler would no doubt slot into Wenger's first-team selection, he is after-all, starting quality, the purchase - should it be confirmed - also represents one for the future, and so the areas of improvement to be a success in the Premier League would include goal/assist return (he is renowned for his finishing, so if he was fielded centrally, he would be encouraged to shoot), while also upping his output when it comes to chance creation.
Interestingly, Draxler improves in some facets of his game when competing in the Champions League, rather than the Bundesliga, suggesting he is capable of being a big-game player. From six appearances, he has registered a goal and assist haul of four, is more productive when it comes to creating chances, yet sees a drop in his passing accuracy.
image: © wonker