Julian Draxler remains the apple of Arsenal’s eye although links bringing him closer to the club remain unsupported.
The most recent rumbling out of North London was that this past January the 20-year-old German international was on the verge of being swapped for Lukas Podolski and other goodies. Podolski, however, squashed that report on Thursday claiming it was a non-starter.
“I only know that a swap deal involving me and him was never a consideration,” said the Arsenal winger.
Last summer, and then again this winter, Draxler was widely touted as the next big thing set to wear the famous Arsenal red. A lanky yet beautifully composed attacking midfielder with a penchant for both creating and scoring goals, Draxler is a more elegant version of Bayern Munich’s Thomas Mueller.
For these qualities and more, the Schalke man has been widely tipped to become Arsene Wenger’s new conversion project: attacking midfielder to striker. The next Thierry Henry. The next Robin van Persie. The next player to be transformed from ‘incredibly talented’ and ‘highly rated’ to ‘world class.’
Patience is a virtue in any aspect of a Goonah fan’s life though, especially when it comes to transfers. At Arsenal, big moves (sans Mesut Ozil) take time to transpire. Sometimes even years. From all indications that will be the case with Draxler, who, despite not being part of an elaborate swap scheme for the under-valued Podolski, is still very much on the Gunners’ radar.
This summer Wenger will once again engage in his transfer market song-and-dance of denying any deals all the while carefully orchestrating (alongside CEO Ivan Gazidis) the most economically advantageous way to land the coveted Draxler. So breathe deep, Gunners supporters, this could be awhile. But the upside is that Draxler-to-Arsenal still very well ‘could be.’
In 26 matches with Die Königsblauen this season, Draxler has four goals and eight assists.
Kevin De Bruyne has been as valuable an attacker as any in the Premier League season, so his injury suffered this weekend is quite a big deal.
There were fears that Manchester City’s Belgian attacker would be gone for more than a month, but manager Pep Guardiola has quelled those concerns to an extent.
[ MORE: NCAA star’s fastest hat trick ]
De Bruyne will miss Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League match against Celtic, which shouldn’t bother the club too much, though his absence Sunday against Tottenham Hotspur could be felt more keenly.
Guardiola said that both De Bruyne and his Belgian teammate, Vincent Kompany, should be back in two to three weeks time. In De Bruyne’s case, Guardiola’s specifically mentioned after the international break. That puts him in line for an Oct. 15 trip to Everton.
The manager also related that he’s excited for his first trip to Celtic Park, as he’s not been to Glasgow to face Celtic in his career.
“Everyone talks to me about the atmosphere, I’m looking forward to playing here. I know how strong they are here. I spoke with my old players, and they have said this is a special environment.”
Kickoff from Scotland is 2:45 p.m. ET.
There are some absolute beauties on tap for Wednesday in the UEFA Champions League, with two Premier League clubs in play and a pair of matches pitting top teams from Germany and Spain.
[ MORE: UCL Tuesday roundup ]
All Wednesday matches kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET.
Celtic vs. Manchester City
Having been hammered 7-0 at home by Barcelona, Celtic’s “reprieve” is a trip to face Pep Guardiola and Manchester City. Brendan Rodgers will need to pull every trick out of his hat to avoid another blowout, as City had little trouble in dispatching a solid Borussia Monchengladbach side 4-0.
Arsenal vs. FC Basel
Both Group A matches were 1-1 draws to open the stage, though few expect draws on day 2. That’s because giants Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain move onto perceived lesser lights in Basel and Ludogorets Razgrad.
The Gunners are flying, having gotten their toughest fixture out of the way in a 1-1 draw at PSG. Arsene Wenger‘s crew is fresh off a 3-0 thumping of Chelsea, and will be aware of Basel’s best: Serey Die, Birkir Bjarnason, and Taulant Xhaka, brother of Arsenal’s Granit. That’s right… all the Xhakas.
Atletico Madrid vs. Bayern Munich
A road goal led Diego Simeone’s Atleti past Bayern in last year’s UCL semifinal, and the Bavarians will hope for a better fate under new boss Carlo Ancelotti.
Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Barcelona
Man, this group. A very good Gladbach side will have to rebound from a 4-0 loss to Man City by hosting Barcelona. The good news for the Germans is that Barcelona will be without Leo Messi, though that mattered little in Barca’s 5-0 win in La Liga play this weekend.
Ludogorets Razgrad vs. Paris Saint-Germain
Napoli vs. Benfica
Besiktas vs. Dynamo Kyiv
FC Rostov vs. PSV Eindhoven
After being named the NCAA Soccer Men’s Player of the Week, Spanish junior Albert Ruiz went out and set the base for a repeat.
The Florida Gulf Coast striker scored three goals in three minutes and 19 seconds on Tuesday, and the Eagles needed everyone in what turned out to be a 6-5 thriller.
FGCU was up 5-0 after 16:16, but saw that lead drop to 5-4 by the 55th minute.
[ MORE: Pochettino happy with “must win” defeat of CSKA ]
Back to Ruiz, his three goals all came before the game was 10 minutes old (9:02 to be exact). The team’s Twitter account says that’s a record to start a game, besting the record was set by Indiana’s Steve Burks on Oct. 6, 1973. Burks scored his three goals by the 11:41 mark of the first half.
If you look at the clock, too, we think it’s more like nine minutes on the dot.
Ruiz scored seven times in 11 games as a sophomore, and is battering that impressive mark this year. It’s not even halftime at FGCU, and he’s up to 11 goals in his ninth game of the season. That puts him into a tie with Buffalo’s Russell Cicerone for the most goals in men’s D1 soccer (and Ruiz has more than 45 minutes to play).
The 6-foot-2 forward is going to be attracting a lot of attention, especially considering this is his second hat trick in 10 days.
Manchester City visits White Hart Lane for a match-up of this early season’s first and second place Premier League clubs.
City will have one less day of rest than its Premier League rivals, though both are coming off road matches in Europe.
Spurs beat CSKA Moscow 1-0 on Tuesday, while Man City is battling Borussia Monchengladbach in Germany a day later.
[ MORE: Pochettino happy with “must win” defeat of CSKA ]
A win would pull Spurs to within a point of the leaders, while a City victory would guarantee, at-worst, a five-point table advantage for Pep Guardiola‘s bunch.
Kickoff is at 9:15 a.m. ET Sunday, and our own Joe Prince-Wright has the preview for you with the latest PST Extra (above).