Meet Germany's new boys - featuring the youngster Moyes didn't fancy (and another he does now at Man United)
Jonathan Harding introduces Germany's latest four arrivals to Joachim Löw's squad...
The fact that Marco Reus (24), Thomas Müller (24) and Mario Götze (21) are already household names tells you all you need to know about Germany's production line.
Joachim Löw’s recent selections may have been forced by the fact that “many players, including a number of really important ones, are still injured,” but it is refreshing nonetheless to see the usually-stubborn Jogi “work on solutions and alternatives in case of emergency.”
A surprise call-up went to former Everton (opens in new tab) youngster Shkodran Mustafi. Under David Moyes the Albania-eligible stopper couldn't force his way past the likes of Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin, and made just one appearance - as a late substitute against BATE Borisov in December 2009 - before joining Sampdoria on a free just over two years later.
Moyes & Co.'s loss was the Serie A side's gain. The 21-year-old centre-back has been impressive in his 41 appearances ever since, becoming a first-team regular at the tail end of last season and keeping his place for the current campaign.
It's not like the former Toffee hasn't been noticed up until now, though - despite only standing just over 6ft, he's featured for Germany at every age group from Under-16 to Under-21, and was part of his nation of birth's 2009 success at the U17 European Championship. It wasn't enough to convince Moyes, but Löw has been impressed enough to hand Mustafi his first call-up.
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Although strong in the air, Mustafi is best with the ball at his feet. His Italian schooling has got Löw, a manager who loves a ball-playing centre-back (see Mats Hummels), purring. Nevertheless, he remains a raw talent, and his educational is still ongoing. The youngster's mind has a tendency to wander during 90 minutes - some of the more illustrious names in Serie A have handed him a few lessons this season - but when the mood is up and the game is in Sampdoria's favour, Mustafi, like many young players, revels. Either way, the German-born defender is developing nicely since his harsh spell on Merseyside.
Another doing the same is fellow young flier Matthias Ginter. Coveted by Borussia Dortmund last year, the centre-back is unlikely to stay at Bundesliga stragglers Freiburg for much longer. The club’s current plight aside – they’re second bottom with 19 points from 23 games – Ginter has benefited greatly from working under Christian Streich. He's also made the esteemed youth setup at Freiburg, whose admirabe promotion policy allows them to produce players sustainably.
Remarkably, Ginter previously played in attacking midfield for Freiburg's U19s (scoring 21 in 39 appearances), demonstrating the versatility and technical abilities of Germany's greatest defensive hope.
It came as no surprise that, despite having missed Mustafi’s ability, Moyes was in Berlin to watch Ginter in Freiburg's battling goalless draw against high-flying Hertha Berlin. Wherever the 20-ear-old ends up, he is ready.
SEE ALSOGinter 'honoured' to be linked with Man United move (opens in new tab)
Trouble up top
The question of strikers remains a fragile one. After the success of both Götze and Mesut Özil occupying the false nine position, the debate is whether Germany even need one. Nevertheless, 22-year-old Pierre-Michel Lasogga is one of only two strikers called up to Löw's squad (the other being evergreen Lazio hitman Miroslav Klose) after single-handedly scoring the goals that have kept Hamburg’s survival hopes alive. As a temporary loan acquisition from league rivals Hertha, his future hinges entirely on where struggling HSV finish this season.
Either way, 12 goals and an assist in 18 games have rightly caught Löw’s attention, especially with Mario Gomez having only just returned from a lengthy spell on the sidelines. Lasogga will clearly benefit learning from master goal-getter Klose, who at 35 has a staggering 130 caps. Lasogga doesn't exactly fit the typical mould for a German striker at a broad 6ft 2in, so how Die Mannschaft use their new man will be interesting.
Löw’s fourth surprise pick is Augsburg’s Andre Hahn, who undoubtedly has the most romantic football story of the lot. At the start of 2013 he was turning out for third division side Kickers Offenbach, but fast-forward a year and the 23-year-old is playing a big hand in his club’s sensational run this season (FCA are in eighth with 34 points – one off the Europa League places) with 10 goals and five assists.
Hahn was informed of his inclusion by Germany’s assistant manager Hansi Flick, and although there’s no Vine video to prove it, the Augsburg man had to return the call having originally missed one from an ‘unknown number’. When Flick finally did get through, he shook with so much excitement and disbelief at the news that he had to pull his car over. And so 'Hahnsinn' was born, a play on the German word Wahnsinn, meaning awesome or crazy.
With both Dortmund and Borussia Mönchengladbach reportedly keen, Hahn’s agent (who also advises Reus, Toni Kroos and Götze) has revealed that, despite a contract that runs until 2016, there is a €2.25 million release clause in the player's deal. Cue pandemonium. Hahn is officially the league’s fastest player (quicker even than BVB’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang), having clocked 22mph at one point this season. His excellent composure and sensational form have got him this far, but Hahn’s inclusion in the national team is still intriguing. Naturally he faces tough competition on the flanks, but the step up in quality may work wonders for him.
The inclusion of Roman Weidenfeller again suggests the Dortmund man has all but booked his ticket to Brazil, leaving the third goalkeeping spot for Bayer Leverkusen’s Bernd Leno, Hannover’s Ron-Robert Zieler or perhaps, after Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s nightmare against Eintracht Braunschweig, Schalke’s Ralf Fährmann.
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The inclusion of utility machine Kevin Großkreutz has pleased many. The left/right-back/winger (occasional goalkeeper) and serial joker deserves his inclusion after quietly driving Dortmund through their injury-stricken spell. With team-mate Marcel Schmelzer also included, it seems unlikely Löw will promote Großkreutz ahead of a natural left-back, but every World Cup squad can find a place for a versatile player like him.
Andre Schürrle’s return to form with Chelsea is a timely reminder of his threat on the wing, while Bastian Schweinsteiger finding fitness and form (again) is proving the Bayern man still has a prominent role to play.
Honourable mentions should go to Hoffenheim’s dazzling forward Kevin Volland (21), Stuttgart wunderkid Timo Werner (17) and Wolfsburg centre-back Robin Knoche (21). The three missed out on selection this time but all are very exciting prospects - Werner in particular - and look set to feature at some point post-Brazil.
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