Despite the fact their national team is the envy of most sides across the globe and well placed to make a concerted assault on the 2014 FIFA World Cup and UEFA EURO 2016, there is already much talk in Germany about how the team can be improved yet further.
With the thrilling, youthful talents of Mario Götze, Julian Draxler and İlkay Gündoğan having already made an impact with the national team in recent seasons, focus is already shifting to the next wave of prospects, set to be the beating heart of the Nationalmannschaft come the 2018 World Cup. UEFA.com takes a look at five of Germany's brightest youngsters, due to light up the club and national game over the next decade.
Emre Can (Bayer 04 Leverkusen)
Touted by many as the next great German talent, the 20-year-old midfielder has started his career in style. Part of the FC Bayern München squad which won a remarkable treble last season, Can learned from the best, profiting from his time training and playing with Bastian Schweinsteiger in particular. Bayern retained an option to bring the midfielder back to Munich after he opted to switch to Leverkusen during the summer, and Can has already made a big impression at the BayArena.
Whether in defence, on the flanks or in the centre of midfield, the Germany Under-21 man, who helped his nation to the 2011 UEFA European Under-17 Championship final and FIFA U-17 World Cup bronze, has looked at home in each position. "I have played a lot of games," he explained recently. "We have been successful, and we are still in all the competitions. It is good for the team, but also good for me. I cannot complain."
Max Meyer (FC Schalke 04)
UEFA.com's Golden Player at the UEFA European Under-17 Championship in 2012, when Germany were again beaten finalists, the 18-year-old has been enjoying a breakthrough season this term. The Schalke playmaker's three Bundesliga strikes came in successive games in October and he is already proving a vital cog on the European stage, appearing in five of his club's six group stage matches in the UEFA Champions League.
"I played futsal for four years and it refined my technical ability," said Meyer, accounting for his exceptional dribbling ability. "You learn to control the ball in small spaces. The experience comes with games, and to get the appropriate strength I am working hard in the gym."
Timo Werner (VfB Stuttgart)
Also in the 2012 U17 squad and prolific at youth level for Stuttgart, Werner's scoring feats brought him the reward of a senior debut in UEFA Europa League qualifying in August, and he has more than repaid the faith of his coaches. With four goals from his 14 Bundesliga appearances to date, the powerful 17-year-old forward has been one of the revelations of the season. "My parents have kept my feet on the ground," said Werner, who is refusing to get carried away with his early achievements. "They gave me advice, told me to be polite and to hold the door open for elderly people."
"Don't take your foot off the gas," is the advice that Stuttgart sporting director Fredi Bobic gave the youngster, and the former Germany striker is keen to extend Werner's contract when the young man celebrates his 18th birthday in March, believing the player has "exceptional qualities".
Maximilian Arnold (VfL Wolfsburg)
Just 19, the midfielder is Wolfsburg's second highest scorer this season with five goals. Not only that but his scoring rate of five in 11 games is superior to that of the club's seven-goal top marksman, Ivica Olić, whose efforts have come from 17 outings. Arnold's outstanding technical ability has impressed Dieter Hecking so much that the coach has even shifted Brazilian star Diego out onto the flanks to accommodate the teenager's talents in the centre of midfield. "It's fantastic to play football with him," said Diego. "He is a great player. He wants to learn every day and keep improving."
Jonathan Tah (Hamburger SV)
Somewhat different but no less promising are the signs being shown by 17-year-old Tah at HSV. While the side have proved inconsistent, the captain of Germany's U17 team has been solid throughout, and the central defender has shown his outstanding ability to read the game while not missing a minute of Hamburg's last 12 Bundesliga matches – proving a mainstay despite the replacement of coach Thorsten Fink with successor Bert van Marwijk. "I never would have thought things would have gone so well so quickly for me. I am delighted they have," said the club's youngest ever first-team player.
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