The latest international break saw another long time Germany player retire from their international career. Instead of Lahm or Schweinsteiger, this time it was Lukas Podolski, who has done great things for his country but hadn’t been an important Germany player for quite some time. With his retirement, one of the youngest World Cup winning squads of all time continues to get younger. The last few German squads have seen many young Bundesliga players get a chance to play for the DFB, which signals that a youth movement it on it’s way for Jogi Low once again.
Many New Faces
After the emotional send offs of Schweinsteiger and Podolski, the German side needed to find players to replace the two icons. With all of the depth in German football, it wasn’t a tough task for Joachim Low. Especially when some of the best players in the Bundesliga who hadn’t made the breakthrough with his team also happened to be some of the youngest in the German top flight. One of these players is Timo Werner, who has been one of the catalysts of Leipzig’s great season. After losing a striker in Podolski, Low has an ideal replacement waiting in the wings.
That’s why In the most recent squad, Werner was the new name added to a long list of youngsters to make their debuts over the past 2 seasons. Other players include Niklas Sule, Julian Brandt, Jonathan Tah, Julian Weigl, Serge Gnabry, Joshua Kimmich, Yannick Gerhardt and Benjamin Henrichs. While young Schalke players Leon Goretzka and Max Meyer have also been brought back into the fold by Low. But there are other players who are just scratching the surface with Die Mannschaft who were included in the latest squad. These players include Emre Can, Bernd Leno and Antonio Rudiger, who all have yet to make 15 caps for the side.
One thing that all of these young players have in common is their age, which sees Leno as the oldest player mentioned even though he’s only 25. But Werner, Brandt, Sane, Sule, Tah, Henrichs, Meyer, Gnabry, Werner and Weigl have yet to turn 22, which shows just how quickly these new faces have made the jump to the national team. Several of these youngsters have risen rapidly to become Germany players, which is epitomized by Henrichs, who hasn’t played 2 full Bundesliga seasons but has already made his national team debut. Tah is a similar story, who went from 2.Bundesliga player with Fortuna Düsseldorf to the national team and then the Euros in just one season. Werner fits this bill as well, as the striker went from not being a consistent first team player with Stuttgart to being in the national team fold after his exploits with Leipzig this season.
But these players didn’t just suddenly catch the eye of Low, all of these young stars performed in the Bundesliga and earned the chance to represent their country. The aforementioned Werner, Tah and Henrichs have all been very good in league play, as Werner’s 17 goals display how potent he’s been for Leipzig. While the 6.94 match rating for Tah this season, and the 7.06 mark for Henrichs shows that those two have also been solid for Bayer when they’ve been on the pitch. Other youngsters like Gnabry, who has 11 goals and a 7.04 match rating, and Leon Goretzka who has a 7.22 match rating and has become a dynamic player this season with 5 goals, have also done really well. While Sule has been a stalwart in the surprise story that is Hoffenheim with a 7.02 match rating and 2 goals, which has helped his side secure European football for next season. Also, Brandt has 6 assists for Leverkusen this season and Weigl has a 7.09 match rating after another solid season for the midfielder. The rapid rise of these accomplished youngsters is a great sign for the national team and all of German football. With all of these new faces, more young players are set to follow with names like Mahmoud Dahoud and Nadiem Amiri making names for themselves in the Bundesliga.
More Than Just Cups of Coffee
Even though many national teams often times give young players a cup of coffee in friendlies or low stakes qualifiers, that is not the case with these youngsters. This is evidenced by the inclusion of Tah, Weigl, Kimmich, Can and Sane in the Euro 2016 squad, and Werner making his debut in a high profile friendly against England. And these young players were on the squad to play, with Kimmich, Can and Sane getting in the most crucial game of the tournament, against France. The fact that three recent inclusions into the squad featured in such a crucial game shows that Low trusts these youngsters, and expects them to contribute to his team’s success in crucial tournaments.
Even though Gnabry, Meyer and Goretzka all featured against poor opposition in the form of San Marino, the game was still a World Cup qualifier that Germany needed to win. With the debut’s of many of these young players coming in important situations, it’s clear that Low intends for these stars to be in the squad for the foreseeable future. The fact that the Germany boss has shown his willingness to play young players in the Euros and World Cup qualifiers is encouraging for the young players fighting for a place in the squad. This might be just one reason why so many wunderkinds have made the breakthrough with Germany recently.
With the Bundesliga form of many of these young players, the opportunities for the national team will keep on coming, and their form will certainly have an impact on their Germany teammates. The young players rising through the ranks will force their teammates to perform better for club and country, which means that just having them on the squad will make the national team better. With all of the quality and success that Germany has had in recent tournaments, the fear of complacency is certainly a valid one. But these young players, who didn’t win a World Cup and some of whom didn’t participate in the euros, are certainly going to be hungry to get games for the national team. With these players stepping up and trying to gain regular playing time, their teammates won’t feel complacent, which will only help Low’s men by the time the World Cup rolls around. The youth movement is on for the national team, and that is only going to help German football in the short term and in the long term.
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