Have Schalke found their replacement for £37m Arsenal linked Draxler?

Schalke 04

Arsenal linked Julian Draxler may still be missing for Schalke, but over the weekend another highly rated talent chose an ideal time to step up.

Arsenal were strongly linked with a move for Julian Draxler in January, but if they had signed him they would still be waiting for the German to make his debut.

The attacker has yet to feature for Schalke in February, and while the club confirmed he had resumed full training last week, he was not selected in the squad to face Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday.

Schalke don't play their Champions League first leg game against Real Madrid until February 26, and Draxler can hope to feature against Mainz next week, but will he get back in the team?

The weekend's 2-1 win away at Leverkusen was momentous for one reason, the performance of Leon Goretzka.

Goretzka is also 19, signed last season by Schalke from Bochum, after a protracted transfer chase which saw the youngster also linked to Borussia Dortmund, Arsenal and Manchester United.

The teenager has been compared in style to Michael Ballack, but it was in Draxler's attacking role where he really shone at the weekend.

Draxler has made 14 of his 19 starts this season in the wide left position - despite admitting he prefers to play centrally - and it was here were Goretzka started at the weekend.

It was only the second start Goretzka had made this season, the first since October, and the first in Draxler's usual position.

He scored the opener, his second striker of the season, and impressed throughout, attempting more shots on goal than any Schalke player, and completing 82 per cent of his passes. He also made a team-high five tackles in the fixture, displaying his Ballack-like qualities.

Whether his future lies in the position remains to be seen, it's likely at this stage he will vacate his position to Draxler if not next week then almost certainly against Madrid. 

Yet his performance gives Schalke hope that he is ready to step up, and when - as it seems rather than if - Draxler departs in the summer, the German side may be well set up to replace him.

image: © achimh

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch