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Last weekend, on the 65th minute of the game against Mainz 05, Schalke manager Keller gave his assistants the nod. The time had come to take young promise Max Meyer off the pitch to put on Julian Draxler. Everyone at the club had been waiting for this great moment for nearly three months.

Since the German ace fell injured last December, he had been working against the clock to be ready for the decisive final stretch of the Budesliga, and of course for the Champions League. The German club could hardly afford to have the player sit out the round of 16 qualifier against Real Madrid. The few options the German club has to surprise Real improved with the 20-year-old midfielder now available.

His powerful shot, great ball skills and sheer impudence out on the pitch will be Shalke's key weapon to be made use of alongside the directness of 'Foquita' (seal cub) Farfán and the firepower of 'the hunter' Huntelaar. Draxler is the spicy ingredient that Keller was waiting to add to the mix, and has arrived in the nick of time. The player is courageous enough to take on anyone and to try something different, the man that can make all the difference to his team's attacks on the Real goal.

Arsenal offer
In the past winter market, Arsenal offered €30 million ($41.2 million) for him. A sign of just how good this creative midfielder is for his team. Drexler is Schalke's great hope and their bright light that the club is hoping will lead them to victory.


In a u-turn that would make the British Government proud, and probably infuriate Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, Schalke have admitted that sought-after midfield star Julian Draxler is likely to move on in the summer and that if a contractual release clause is met, they will have little choice in the matter.

Schalke have already admitted in recent days that the club rejected an offer for Draxler in January – thought to be from Arsenal. The contract release clause – reported to be $62 million - can only be activated at the end of the season, so it isn’t as if Arsenal could have put Schalke in a position where they had to accept in January.

Speaking to Bild, Schalke coach Jens Keller spoke of his delight at Draxler remaining at the club for the rest of the season, but also admitted he was planning for a future without him. Keller told the newspaper, "I am delighted that we have him on board for the second half of the season but because of his clause, he can leave when a club puts the money on the table."

"That's why I can't plan with him, because it is just not in my or our hands. It's a god-awful situation when, as the coach, you don't know whether such an important player will move on, but Julian was injured at that time, so at least any unrest did not necessarily affect the other players.

"He's young, but has made over 100 competitive appearances for Schalke. Others don't achieve that in five, six years. That's why he is very experienced already, and has shown his superior qualities often enough, although his youth shows in his consistency.

"It's clear that all the talk about his $62 million release clause and the interest from top European clubs leaves its mark on such a young lad. The hype around him last summer was huge. He must learn to cope with that, and also that failing to perform at less than 100% is not good enough for him."

A place in the Germany squad that heads to Brazil will put Draxler in the eyes of the world, but given the noises coming from the player’s camp last month, it seems that he’s Arsenal’s next season if they want him, although if a Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, or Barcelona were to make a move, all bets would be off.

Certainly, given the talk surrounding the perceived drop off in Mezut Ozil’s performance in recent weeks, a similar player as well as a fellow German would certainly be welcomed at the Emirates.


Julian Draxler returned to Schalke 04 training on Wednesday, after a two-month injury absence, to boost the Royal Blues for their Champions League clash with Real Madrid in a fortnight.

The 20-year-old Germany star has been out since tearing a thigh muscle in December and having taken a full part in Wednesday's training could feature off the bench in Saturday's Bundesliga clash at second-placed Bayer Leverkusen.

Draxler has won 10 caps for Germany and was linked to a switch to Premier League side Arsenal in January.

If Draxler does not play at Leverkusen, there is always next Friday's Bundesliga match at home to Mainz before Schalke host Cristiano Ronaldo's Real in the Champions League last 16, first-leg clash on Wednesday February 26.

"He could do everything we asked of him today without any problem," said Schalke coach Jens Keller. "But I think Saturday will be a bit too soon for him, but we'll see."

Schalke are also waiting on the fitness of defensive midfielder Roman Neustaedter, who heavily bruised his knee in the 2-0 win over Hanover 96 last Sunday.

"I have to see how things go, I still have a bit of mild pain," said the midfielder.

Schalke will be without defenders Benedikt Hoewedes and Japan's Atsuto Uchida for the next few weeks, including the Real game, after the pair have both suffered thigh injuries, the club confirmed.

Meanwhile, Schalke have confirmed they have signed Germany defender Dennis Aogo until June 2017 on a permanent deal from Hamburg after the left-back joined the Royal Blues on loan last year.