Posts Tagged ‘Mats Hummels’

Mesut Ozil – practically a veteran at 23

Germany have perhaps the greatest pool of young talent currently available to any football playing nation.

However, it wasn’t always this way, and much like the other articles in this series, the way Germany turned things around following their Euro 2000 disappointment is very much something England could and should be looking at.

Just over a decade ago, having looked at poor performances from the national side, clubs in financial meltdowns and an ever-increasing number of foreign players, it was commissioned for 121 national talent centres, for players aged 10-17, to be built throughout Germany; while every club in the top two divisions had to have a youth academy.

Clark Whitney, German football editor of goal.com, said: “There is nothing serendipitous about the quality and quantity of young talent coming from the German first and second divisions. In 2000, after an aging Germany side utterly failed at the European Championship, the DFL made strict requirements for all 1. and 2. Bundesliga clubs to have youth academies, with very specific guidelines regulating their quality.

“There are also periodic sessions in which crops of youngsters are brought together to be trained in the style of the senior national team. The result is a large number of talented players who are well-nurtured, and take very little time to integrate into the senior national team.”

The benefits are clear for all to see. In recent years Germany have won the U17, U19 and U21 European Championships, and are one of the favourites for the senior tournament this summer.

The likes of Mesut Ozil, Mario Gotze and Thomas Muller and regarded as superstars, yet not one of them is older than 23. Similarly, the likes of Mats Hummels and Marco Reus are ready to burst onto the world stage, and there are plenty more waiting-in-line.

By contrast, England still call upon the likes of Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Scott Parker, John Terry and so on – all of whom are at least 30. There are some exceptions – Jack Wilshere, Phil Jones, Kyle Walker to name a few – but, ultimately, the English national side continues to be an ageing one, filled with players who have experience, and contributed to, past failures.

The fiasco that was no qualifying for Euro 2008, and the woeful performances in 2010’s World Cup were both supposed to lead to a youth revolution, but it is to the old stars Fabio Capello has turned, suggesting the younger players are not good enough.

Germany looks like having a side to challenge for at least the next decade. England may take that long before even attempting to catch-up.

You can follow Clark on Twitter: @Mr_Bundesliga.

Bayern Munich may have the best left-footed defender in Germany, but did they let the best overall slip through their fingers?

Mats Hummels progressed through the ranks at Bayern, a year or two ahead of Holger Badstuber, and played for their string between 2005 and 2007.

He flirted briefly with the Bayern first team, but ultimately found chances were few and far between. Highly thought of, he was sent on loan to Borussia Dortmund to gain experience.

Whilst undoubtedly talented, I don’t think anyone quite expected him to make such an impact as he did at Westfalenstadion.

Hummels and Subotic: works even when wet.

He was in the first team immediately, forming a formidable partnership in the centre of defence alongside Nevan Subotic. Together the pair became one of the best in the Bundesliga.

His move was made permanent in the winter transfer window of 2009, a year after his arrival. Bayern, they stated, were happy with his development, but were happier with the centre back’s they had: Lucio, Martin Demichelis, Daniel van Buyten and Breno. A decision they may now regret.

In the 2008/09 season, his first full season with the club, Dortmund had the second best defence in the league. But for Hummels and Die Schwarzgelben, the best was yet to come.

That best was last season, when Hummels helped Dortmund to a first league title in almost a decade. He may not have grabbed the headlines like Gotze, Sahin et al, but his contribution should not be underestimated.

He’s slowly but surely adding to his reputation and his caps at international level, and with Per Mertesacker’s form hardly inspiring, he should find himself firmly in the side come Euro 2012. His star his already rising fast, and Euro 2012 could be the tournament that catapults him to superstardom.

“He’s the most complete centre back in the world: his man-marking and passing abilities are absolutely world class. I’ve seen him mark some of football’s best strikers into anonymity for 90 minutes, but he still needs to improve: those times when he doesn’t succeed for 90 minutes it’s typically 89 minutes and 50 seconds, with the last 10 being just enough time for things to fall apart.” – Clark Whitney, goal.com German football editor. @Mr_Bundesliga.

“Mats Hummels, 23, for me, is the best young central defender in the world and one of the very best period.” Gerry Wittmann, of Bundesliga fanatic. @Bundesliga4u

The video below features Hummels displaying some of the passing skills mentioned above:

Germany currently has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to up-and-coming young stars. Thomas Muller, for example, is only 22 – but you’d be forgiven for thinking he was older, such were his performances at the 2010 World Cup. Holger Badstuber, Mats Hummels, Marco Reus and the Bender twins – all just 22. Mesut Ozil is practically a veteran at 23 years old.

So, out of those aged 21 and younger, who is the best? I have deliberately left the name Mario Gotze off this list, as I’ve no doubt he’d come top. So perhaps I should ask, out of those aged 21 and under, whose number isn’t Mario Gotze, who is the best young German prospect?

Please vote in this poll to decide. I’ve put a few names down, but I want as many opinions as possible, so feel free to use the ‘other’ box if I’ve missed out someone you feel is worthy. Thanks.