By Enis Koylu
It’s been a peculiar season for Nurnberg to say the very least. After going through the whole of the first half of the campaign without a win, their form since Christmas has lurched from sublime to ridiculous and they remain in a relegation scrap.
There's no telling where they would be without Josip Drmic. In the Switzerland international, coach Gertjan Verbeek has one of the in-form strikers in Germany at his disposal, one who's behind only Mario Mandzukic, Robert Lewandowski and Adrian Ramos in the Bundesliga scoring charts.
The 21-year-old will almost certainly go down as one of the signings of the season. Few will have taken much notice when the Bavarian outfit spent a paltry €2.2 million (£1.8m) to sign a Zurich striker without a standout record in the Swiss league, but he's been worth every penny – and more.
With the brilliant ability to time his runs off the last man to perfection, two good feet and the type of calmness in the box that cannot be taught, he has made the difference. Whether looking to round the keeper or slot the ball home when one-on-one.
As usual, Nurnberg have been rather meagre in front of goal, scoring just 34 times in 28 games but Drmic has played a part in over half of them.
|DRMIC'S 2013-14 BUNDESLIGA STATS
MINUTES PER GOAL
SHOT CONVERSION RATE
His career is now at a crossroads. He scored his first two international goals earlier this month – ironically, against Croatia, the country of his descent – and should be on the plane to Brazil this summer.
Inevitably, with FCN still embroiled in a survival fight, Drmic has been linked with a bigger club.
Bayern Munich legend Lothar Matthaus claimed that he is on the verge of the summer move to Arsenal, which would make perfect sense.
Drmic has all the pace and intelligence to thrive in the Premier League and offers something the Gunners have missed this season.
In Olivier Giroud, they have a striker who is capable of holding up the ball and playing in team-mates well, but the Frenchman’s lack of pace has been their undoing in tight situations. The Swiss plays on the shoulder of the last man and has the coolness in front of goal his potential team-mate lacks.
Beyond that, he is a different option. Giroud has struggled with the burden of being expected to lead the line week in week out and has visibly tired. His only back-ups have been the desperately inexperienced Yaya Sanogo and the troublesome Nicklas Bendtner.
Drmic would allow Arsene Wenger to rotate his strikers and keep both fresh, something essential for a club with pretensions of challenging on multiple fronts. Giroud could bear the brunt of the big games and allow the 21-year-old to settle into his new environment at a big club.
With Stuttgart and Hamburg sinking towards the bottom three with every passing week and Nurnberg looking capable of pulling off the odd result, Drmic could well be one of the heroes of the Bundesliga season.
And, with Switzerland drawn into a reasonable group at this summer’s World Cup, the young striker’s career could well be about to take off in a big way.