After finishing last season as league runners-up and DFB Cup winners, VfL Wolfsburg are looking to push on to even greater heights, with the aid now of two prominent newcomers signed just before the close of the transfer window: Julian Draxler and Dante.
For Draxler, brought on board from FC Schalke 04, the move offers the opportunity to make the next step up which, in his case, means nothing less than genuine world class. “I think it's all a bit more laid-back here than at Schalke,” the 21-year-old attacking midfielder noted with a grin - a reference to the surrounding environment rather than the football regime under Dieter Hecking.
Change of scenery for Draxler
Having been a Royal Blue since the age of eight, the switch from the heart of the Ruhr district to provincial Lower Saxony is an adjustment in itself. In sporting terms, however, Draxler is confident he is heading in the right direction.
“I'll always carry Schalke in my heart. It's still strange to be in the changing room and everything's green, instead of blue. But I needed a change of air,” the Wolves new designated No 10 explained. The traditional playmaker's shirt is his, as it latterly was in Gelsenkirchen, and while Kevin De Bruyne never wore it here, the departed Belgian superstar is the man whose boots Draxler has evidently been acquired to fill.
Brazilian trio complete
Dante's specialist area of operation is further back on the park, where the former FC Bayern stalwart will form part of a new central defensive block alongside Brazilian compatriots Naldo and Luiz Gustavo. “If the three of them steer clear of the Copacabana keepy-uppy stuff, I've no objection to them mopping up at the back for us,” Hecking quipped, adding that “hopefully, with Dante, we can give Bayern a bit more to think about.”
For his part, sporting director Klaus Allofs has no doubt that the 31-year-old centre-back still has what it takes to compete at the top end in the international arena as well, saying, “He has both the quality and the mentality that you need, to be successful.”