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Draxler v Griezmann - Who should Arsenal go for this summer?

Julian Draxler in Germany tracksuit

The young duo are renowned as two of the best attacking midfield talents in world football and Arsenal have been credited with an interest in both.

The signing of Mesut Özil represented a watershed moment for Arsenal Football Club and, most pertinently, Arsene Wenger, who loosened the purse-strings for a rare splash in the transfer market.

Özil's arrival evoked hysteria among Gunners fans, with the umlaut soon making its way onto social media handles, and those same supporters could be forgiven for thinking their side were ready to make a major play in reinforcing the squad.

So the frustration which met Wenger's decision not to spend in January was magnified, having become increasingly clear that the club do indeed have funds to work with.

The major target in January and one they missed out on altogether - with Kim Källström the sum total of Wenger's January business - was Julian Draxler, the prince of German football.

The Frenchman reportedly balked at the Schalke schemer's price-tag of £37million and it may explain why he rather candidly confessed his interest in Antoine Griezmann this weekend.

Griezmann, right now, would probably represent the cheaper option. He is destined for the very top, that should not be questioned, but Real Sociedad are unlikely to be able to command a figure in the same bracket as Draxler due to the crippling economic crisis in Spain at present.

Although club finances are in relatively good health, Real would probably have to pip Athletic Bilbao to meet Griezmann's requirements and that of their own.

Of course, a successful World Cup for either could help ramp up their prices and a bidding war is likely to ensue for such precocious talents, but which would be most useful for Arsenal?

There was plenty of talk Wenger would coax Draxler into a central striker role but presumably the excitement among supporters stemmed from his tricky wing play and ability to beat a man, something Arsenal have desperately craved this season.

But, while Draxler has proven ability to operate in central areas, Griezmann is an out-and-out wideman. 

He can work on either flank, but prefers to play on the left and cut in on to his right foot; a strategy which has returned a stunning 15 goals this season.

To put into perspective what an achievement that is, it is perhaps worth noting that only Cristiano Ronaldo, Diego Costa and Alexis Sanchez, all members of La Liga's current top three, have scored more.

His tally puts him alongside Karim Benzema and Lionel Messi so it is clear he belongs in the upper echelons of some of La Liga's finest talents.

His goals have come as a result of often shooting on sight, registering 3.3 efforts per game on average, but his creative abilities should not be understated either, having contributed three assists.

Draxler, by comparison, has paled in front of goal, scoring just once in the Bundesliga so far this term, but the caveat which affects his statistics is his injury problems this season, which have prevented him from making the valuable contributions Griezmann has supplied. 

He does have four assists, however, and the fact his passing is far superior to that of Griezmann's (84.3% to 78%) marks him out as more of a creator than a finisher.

Another factor likely to influence the thinking of Wenger is Draxler's stellar Champions League showings, where Griezmann quite simply failed to turn up.

The fact Draxler excelled during the group stages - with three goals and an assist to his name - shows he is comfortable on the biggest stage among elite competitors, and it could be that which swings it in the German's favour for a move to the Emirates Stadium this summer.

Griezmann and Sociedad were poor in comparison and exited the tournament with barely a whimper, but the Frenchman cannot be held directly accountable for that.

It seems unlikely, almost improbable, that Wenger would go for both Draxler and Griezmann. There is little to choose between the two.

The former offers versatility, greater passing ability and adds to the increasingly-Germanic feel of the Arsenal squad while the latter brings with him a proven goal threat and the old-fashioned wing play the Gunners often lack.

Having splashed the cash on Özil, Wenger would be mad not to try and snare either before the World Cup inevitably drives up the asking prices; although Draxler's release-clause means he will never come even remotely cheap. However, it may that he gets the least attention, due to Germany's plethora of attacking midfield sensations, and seals his long-awaited move to the Gunners.

image: © Michael Kranewitter

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