News : U21 EM – Germany before the semi-finals: The stars of tomorrow are still looking
When the German senior national team against Denmark had warmed up on Wednesday evening, the junior national players were likely to have watched the EM test with tired eyes and heavy legs.
Arne Maier ran “15.4 kilometers”, said U21 national coach Stefan Kuntz shortly beforehand about the show of strength last Monday. The quarter-finals, the victory on penalties – also against Denmark – were not processed two days later. “That was a whole body cramp,” said Kuntz.
The DFB selection starts next week in the EM, the U21, the possible A-national players of tomorrow, they have already made a little further in their tournament: In the evening (9 p.m., TV: ProSieben) the team plays against them Netherlands for the final at the European Junior Championships in Székesfehérvár, Hungary. The final round began with the preliminary round at the end of March and is now coming to an end.
The 15.4 kilometers run by Maier in the quarter-finals, they have a certain symbolic character for the German junior team. It consists of many players who are active in the second division, five play abroad, in Austria, England’s second division and Belgium, and thus there are significantly more legionnaires than in previous tournaments (at the EM 2019 there were two, in the EM 2017 only one).
Florian Witz from Bayer Leverkusen and Ridle Baku from VfL Wolfsburg are also in the squad, players who have arrived, but behind them there are youngsters who have already gone a long way in their young careers – and still have a long way to go to reach the national peak once.
Arne Maier, midfield motor and captain of the U21s, was once considered the future of Hertha BSC, the Big City Club. Meanwhile, Maier, 22 years old, is under contract as a loan player with Arminia Bielefeld, and he last fought there to stay in the Bundesliga (after all, relegation battle would have been announced at Hertha too).
Klinsmann: “Maier can bring in over 20 million”
Maier had already been spotted at the gates of the capital as a nine-year-old, he joined Hertha at an early age and went through all the youth teams. When he was 19, he had already played 18 Bundesliga games, 14 of which were even in the starting line-up. It sounded like a promising career.
But the dream of the self-trained national player should not come true for Hertha BSC so far, Maier was injured again and again, the coaches in Berlin changed and they pursued different strategies. These were not ideal conditions for Maier’s development.
His interim trainer in Berlin, Jürgen Klinsmann, wrote in his now famous diary: »Arne Maier, often injured but mega talent, can bring in at least 20 million in two to three years, but only if there is a performance-enhancing environment at Hertha . “
The entry in Klinsmann’s roster analysis is now one and a half years old, and it has aged badly. Maier is far from a high transfer fee, which Hertha’s investor Lars Windhorst should be happy about. Maier is more likely to stabilize his career. In Bielefeld it took some time to become important – but in the decisive phase and under the new coach Frank Kramer, he was ultimately one of the pillars. He is currently an important part of the U21s. Kramer trusts him.
Just like Kuntz, who always manages to bring new age groups together quickly, to form a team. In 2017, Germany became U21 European champions under him, in 2019 the team was only defeated in the final, and the Summer Olympics await in the summer. Kuntz looks like a young Horst Hrubesch, like someone who has stayed on the ground and approaches things less mentally. In any case, his manner is well received and his success at the DFB can hardly be denied.
Lukas Nmecha is also part of the Kuntz selection. He had saved the team in the quarter-finals shortly before the final whistle in overtime. Nmecha actually belongs to the Champions League finalist Manchester City – but he shouldn’t play for the club for the foreseeable future. The competition with the English champions is too strong. The club’s hope is that Nmecha will do so well at loan clubs that a club will be willing to pay a high transfer fee for him. That’s how business works with a lot of young players.
Most recently Nmecha was loaned to RSC Anderlecht in Belgium, where he scored 14 league goals. Nmecha has been awarded to Preston North End, VfL Wolfsburg and FC Middlesbrough in the past. That’s a lot of clubs for someone who is only 22 years old.
Niklas Dorsch, once a youth player at FC Bayern, decided last year to make a permanent move from the second division club Heidenheim to Belgium – in Ghent he was hoping for the Champions League. But his new club should already fail in the qualification for the premier class, Dorsch and Gent then only continued in the Europa League, where they were eliminated without a single point in the group stage.
“None of that was my goal. It was very unfortunate, «Dorsch said at last to Transfermarkt.de, and it sounds as if the search is going on with him too.
Not to be compared with the Hummels-Boateng-Özil team
It’s a team with exciting résumés, only very few go straight to the goal. And so it is a completely different team than the legendary EM-winning junior team of 2009, with Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels, Jérôme Boateng, Benedikt Höwedes and Mesut Özil. At that time they were all under contract with the top Bundesliga clubs, Werder Bremen or Schalke 04. With them, you already suspected that their careers would one day lead to the biggest stage.
With the current U21 you have to be a little more skeptical. At the EM, however, the selection players have the opportunity to play their way into the limelight. So far they have managed to do that quite well.