by Tom Lees - 26th March 2016
Joachim Löw led his nation to success in the 2014 World Cup, can he add the European Championships title as well
Joachim Löw has some of the finest players in the World at his disposal but could be without key midfielder and captain Bastian Schweinsteiger. A new generation of young German stars are breaking into the senior side now and the challenge for the coach will be to incorporate them into his squad and keep the success continuing.
Already a number of youngsters are regulars in the selection and in goalkeepers Marc-André ter Stegen and Bernd Leno they have great backup to the outstanding Manuel Neuer. Defensively Shkodran Mustafi of Valencia and Matthias Ginter of Dortmund will be confident of tournament selection, in a defensive unit that could have an unfamiliar look to it in France.
Julian Draxler in midfield has returned to form following his transfer to VfL Wolfsburg after stagnating slightly towards the end of his Schalke career. Both he and World Cup winning goal scorer Mario Götze will be assured of their squad selection, although the latter’s club form for Bayern has been questionable. Returning from injury his game time has been minimal, but his class is not in question and it would be a big shock if he is not in the final squad list. In attack Kevin Volland is often in the Germany selectors minds and is expected to travel to France also, even though his club side Hoffenheim have been at the wrong end of the league table.
Aside from these names, who are the young stars on the fringes of selection that could feature in Joachim Löw’s final squad.
Liverpool midfielder Emre Can has been an unexpected revelation since joining from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer of 2014 for a reported €12 million. Not unexpected because of any lack of ability, but more because how quickly he adapted to football in England after limited exposure to football in the Bundesliga. Under the management of Brendan Rodgers and then Jürgen Klopp at Anfield, Can has proven to be a quality talent who seemingly can operate anywhere on the pitch, although his preferred position is in the heart of midfield.
Emre Can began his career at Bayern Munich where he went on to make a handful of appearances for the first team, the majority of his playing time was spent in the reserve side. His talent was spotted at an early age though with some outstanding performances for the national youth sides enhancing his reputation. One such club to notice his ability was Bundesliga outfit Bayer Leverkusen who quickly signed up Can when he became available for transfer. A deal between Bayern and Bayer was reached, with a buy back clause inserted, however this option was never taken up because Can would only spend one season at Leverkusen before Liverpool secured his signature.
A highly versatile midfielder, able to play centrally, defensively, out wide or in a box to box role. He has also shown an ability to play in defence both centrally or as a full back, and it was at full back that Emre Can earned his first senior German cap in August 2015. High in energy with great game intelligence, his driving runs and pin point passing has made him a crowd favourite for his club and with injuries to some of the senior German midfielders there are a number of calls for Joachim Löw to include him in the squad for France. He is on the right tracks for making the squad, only loss of form or injury looks set to stop him making the tournament now.
Touted as one of the finest young centre backs in World football, Jonathan Tah is a ball playing defender who mixes technique, with strength, stature and pace. Seen as the future of the German defensive line Tah has been the subject of intense transfer speculation in recent weeks which has been furthered with his introduction into the German national squad for the first time in recent days. This is all on the back of his seasons performances for Bayer Leverkusen, a club Tah only joined in the summer of 2015, but where he has shone brightly thus far.
Born in Hamburg Tah joined up with the HSV youth academy, after spells with Altona 93 and SC Concordia, and quickly earnt a promising reputation with his displays in the Under 19 side and then second team. His full Hamburg debut came in August 2013 and he would go on to make a number of impressive starts for the Bundesliga side that season. The following year saw a loan move to second tier side Fortuna Düsseldorf where the defender gained great experience, this prompted a big money big from Bayer Leverkusen at the end of that season and instead of returning to Hamburg he instead moved to Leverkusen for around €10 million. Now less than a season into his time at Bayer, there are rumours of a move for even bigger money in the upcoming summer window, and any exposure to the Championships tournament will add further fuel and extra euros to these rumours.
Tall, powerful, fast, technically gifted, Jonathan Tah could go on to be the complete defender. Already a representative of the national team at all youth levels up to the Under 21’s, he is now on the brink of his senior national debut. He is also eligible to play for the Ivory Coast but will surely select Germany as his future and will hope to force his way into Joachim Löw’s squad this summer. If Tah is included, he has the potential to be one of the revelations of the tournament.
A youngster seemingly linked with every major club in Europe over the past 12 months, with prospective fees in the €50 million area, Leroy Sané has been earmarked for super stardom. Despite only recently turning 20 the Schalke forward has already represented Die Mannschaft having made his debut in November 2015. Sané earnt his call up to the national team with some fine form for his club FC Schalke in the Bundesliga, and as he had duel French citizenship his inclusion for Germany at such an early age came as no surprise.
A flamboyant, pacey, skilful player Sané began his youth career with SG Wattenscheid 09, before moving to Schalke 04, Bayer Leverkusen and then back to Schalke again where he signed a professional contract in March 2014. His professional debut followed a month later, and since then his appearances for the Bundesliga have become more and more regular and he is now considered an important player for the side. He uses his trickery, low centre of gravity and pace to become a creative force for his team where he can operate in either an attacking midfield role or as a wide man. Currently he is representing the German Under 21 side but will still hold out hope for a call up to the Championships this summer, if not though he has many more opportunities ahead of him in his career.
OTHER PLAYERS OF NOTE
Defensively Antonio Rüdiger has recently earnt his place in German squads due to his displays for AS Roma, and will be in the frame for selection as long as he finishes the season well. An outside chance could go to Hertha Berlin’s Niklas Stark who has performed brilliantly for the national youth sides and has recently forced his way back into the Bundesliga sides first team after a lengthy injury. Stark has a big future and could be taken for the experience.
In midfield the Germans are blessed with an array of talented youngsters. Joshua Kimmich, Julian Weigl, Leon Goretzka and Maximilian Arnold could all have viable claims for selection. Out of those names the highest chances of selection would probably go to Weigl of Dortmund, or Arnold of Wolfsburg. Goretzka has had playing time limited at Schalke due to injuries and Kimmich has been responsible for a couple of high profile errors for Bayern which may harm his cause. All will be big players in the future however, and are part of the next generation of German superstars.
Speaking of Germany superstars Max Meyer and Julian Brandt provide the young back up in the attacking midfield roles. Meyer of Schalke has the potential to be one of the games finest and was close to making selection for the World Cup squad, his game time has recently increased and he’ll be crossing his fingers for a late call up. His form for the Under 21 side has been excellent and won’t harm his claims in any way. Brandt meanwhile has returned to form after a difficult spell, and in recent weeks has looked excellent for Leverkusen. His inclusion would be a slight shock though but his time will come in future competitions.
With a tendency to play a ‘false 9’, Germany don’t have many opportunities for frontmen in their squad but in Timo Werner and Davie Selke they have two youngsters with enormous potential. Selke is the more natural striker of the two but his case for inclusion will be harmed by his decision to play for RasenBallsport Leipzig in the German second tier. Whereas Timo Werner offers more with his positional play in attack but still lacks the experience and clinical edge to be considered a serious candidate for selection at the moment.
That concludes our look at the youngsters hoping to represent Germany this summer, how do you think the World Champions will fare in the European Championships? Will they be able to hold both trophies at the same time? Do you think these youngsters will make the final selection? Let us know in the comments section below.
Germany are drawn in Group C with Poland, Ukraine and Northern Ireland. They begin their tournament against Ukraine on June 12th in Lille and will be hoping for a strong start in a group they are expected to win. Northern Ireland are capable of providing a tough test but the strongest opponent for the Germans will come in Poland, who beat the World Champions in qualifying and always raise their game when facing Die Mannschaft. Germany will be expected to go all the way to the final and have the players in their squad to fulfil expectations.