Julian Draxler is too good for Schalke. It may not be a popular opinion or one that will cheer up any worried fans of the Bundesliga side, but it's a truism that we can no longer avoid.
But here's the real question: Is he good enough to play for Real Madrid?
The most apparent sense of Draxler's promising talent is the manner in which he can dictate forward play from the traditional No. 10 role, playing through the middle of the pitch.
It's here that the young German international and star in the making made his name in Gelsenkirchen, replacing the departed Lewis Holtby with fantastic precision last season, scoring 14 goals and creating seven assists in 42 games for Germany and Schalke.
With speed, ball control and most importantly the vision to create plays from nothing, Draxler fits the bill as a class act in the middle of the pitch, which is exactly why the likes of Arsenal, Bayern Munich and now Real Madrid have shown so much interest, per David Wright of the Express.
This season hasn't seen quite the same kind of game from the Schalke boy wonder as he's been forced to play out wide on the left-hand side to accommodate Kevin-Prince Boateng in the middle of the pitch.
Naturally this means that Draxler is further from the box but can still create goals rather than just score them. Last season the youngster showed that he can score goals when playing through the middle, yet this season on the left we've seen a playmaker style to his game that has seen him create 10 assists as well as score five in just 30 games.
As we can clearly see, wherever you chose to start the 20-year-old starlet, he will find a way of scoring or creating goals for his side.
Yet as we've seen in the Champions League first-round knockout stage, playing and thriving at Schalke and in the Bundesliga is completely different from playing for Madrid. Two big clubs undoubtedly, but one must wonder if the German star is ready to walk into this Spanish side.
The first logistical problem that arises before we can even consider who Draxler would replace is of course where he would play in a side that has played a 4-3-3 formation under Ancelotti since the start of the season. That setup is quite far removed from the positions and roles that the German international has grown up with in Gelsenkirchen.
But assuming that Madrid did decide to splash the cash and bring the forward to the club, let's take a look at where he could play and then potentially whom he could replace.
Draxler's ability to score goals with late runs and exquisite dribbles through the opposing defence would initially suggest that a spot in Madrid's front three would make the most sense. Yet replacing none other than Gareth Bale or Cristiano Ronaldo seems like too farcical a concept to even entertain for a few moments.
Bale, despite a relatively brief dry spell at the start of his career in Spain, has amassed an incredible 15 goals and 16 assists in just 32 games, while Ronaldo has reached an unbelievable level with 46 goals and 15 assists in 40 games. Although critics would argue that such numbers say more about the quality of opponents in Spain's top division, these are figures that Draxler just could not emulate at this point in his career.
No, the more realistic role for the Schalke playmaker would probably be in the midfield trio that sits behind Madrid's front line, usually consisting of Angel Di Maria, Xabi Alonso and of course Luka Modric.
Although Draxler may not be able to push forward or score as many as he would usually prefer to do in a match, it's here that he could develop and become the continent conquering midfielder that he's suggested so many times.
Here he could quite feasibly play a role not too dissimilar from that of Modric or even Di Maria's, in which he would provide chances for the trigger-happy front line whilst at the same time maintaining possession. Such a position demands an incredible level of passing, vision and dribbling, and Draxler passes each test with flying colours.
But would he make Madrid any better than they currently are?
On paper he may well do exactly that. Although Modric is a vital member of the squad whose contribution to the team goes far beyond any number on a stats sheet, the Croatian midfielder has only managed to pop up with two goals and six assists in 41 games this season. A rather disappointing return for a player of his calibre.
Di Maria on the other hand has done much better with 16 assists and nine goals in 43 games in this current campaign, and it is he who Draxler would likely look to emulate if he were to come into this side for Modric: a free-scoring midfielder who undoubtedly has a focus on creating assists.
For now, all we can do is speculate and play the infuriating game of "What if?" around a list of stats and opinions. But maybe one day Draxler will move on to a bigger club like Madrid and show us just what he can accomplish as a player with immense talent and promise.
All stats used in this article come from Transfermarkt.co.uk.
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