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Five in-form fringe players Joachim Löw should be looking at

James Thorogood
November 13, 2018

Joachim Löw promised "clear changes" after the World Cup. New faces have been integrated into an evolving Germany side, but who else deserves a shot? DW looks at five in-form players knocking on Die Mannschaft’s door…

Deutschland Philipp Max
Image: picture-alliance/SvenSimon/F. Hoermann

Since the start of 2018, the German national team have picked up just three wins from a possible 11, against Saudi Arabia, Sweden and Peru. As a result, questions are still being asked of a side that have struggled to bounce back from their woeful World Cup title defense during a period of highly scrutinized transition.

 Read more: The game the Bundesliga needed

On the back of what transpired in Russia, even head coach Joachim Löw, who has been loyal to a fault at times, has succumbed to the approach of "out with the old in with the new" as he seeks a fresh start. Yet fans still have bones to pick with his latest squad selection, which includes a smattering of star names who have been struggling for form in 2018-19, but unlike Jerome Boateng, still made the cut.

In terms of in-form players though, who is knocking on the door of a Germany call-up? DW has some suggestions...

Maxi Eggestein (Werder Bremen – central midfield – 22 years old)

Since Florian Kohfeldt took charge, Bremen have undergone a remarkable transformation from relegation candidates to top-half-of-the-table challengers. Eggestein's development has followed a similar trajectory and he has now established himself as one of the key cogs in the Werder machine. 

Eggestein currently tops the Bremen goal-scoring chart with four goals to his name, three of which have come from outside the area, and his newfound scoring touch has drawn comparisons with Germany and Real Madrid star Toni Kroos. However, his vision and understanding of the game are where you see the real similarities. Eggestein is well aware of the fact that "to play at the top level, you have to be consistent." But if he can maintain his current form, a first senior international cap shouldn't be long in coming for the midfielder, who is a regular with Germany's U-21 side.

Marcel Halstenberg (RB Leipzig – left back – 27)

The only player on this list already with a cap to his name, Marcel Halstenberg, made his Germany debut this time last year in a 0-0 draw with England. However, the left back's breakthrough in the national team was curtailed after tearing a cruciate ligament at the end of the 2017-18 campaign.

Fußball Bundesliga 11. Spieltag | RB Leipzig - Bayer Leverkusen
Marcel Halstenberg has hit the ground running since making his return from a cruciate ligament injury.Image: picture-alliance/dpa/J. Woitas

Since making his comeback from injury in RB's 1-1 draw against Frankfurt, the 27-year-old has made five league starts, helping Leipzig to three wins, two draws and five clean sheets.

"My priority is to get back to 100 percent with Leipzig and, when I'm producing good performances again, I'd obviously like to catch the eye of the national team," Halstenberg said prior to the start of the season.

Competing with Jonas Hector and Nico Schulz, the Leipzig left back is a perfect blend of Hector's intelligence and reading of the game and Schulz's attacking dynamism. Add to that his proficiency from set pieces and Löw may have a solution for his long-term problem position.

 Read more: Bundesliga Bulletin - Matchday 11

Philipp Max (Augsburg  – left back – 25)

In the build-up to the World Cup, speculation regarding Löw's squad selection was rife. From the dark corners of German bars to the brightly lit TV studios, one name kept coming up: Philipp Max (main photo). 

Since detailed data collection began in 1993, no defender had ever racked up as many assists in a single Bundesliga season as Max did – 12 – in 2017-18. In the current campaign, the 25-year-old is yet to miss a minute of league action and has chipped in with two goals and two assists, suggesting any concerns about being a "one-season wonder" were off the mark.

Löw claimed Schulz was "just a bit stronger defensively" when asked about overlooking Max, but how long can his attacking output be ignored? Not long according to Augsburg head coach Manuel Baum: "If he keeps playing like this, he'll wear the eagle on chest at some point."

Florian Neuhaus (Borussia Mönchengladbach – central midfield – 21)

Gladbach are currently enjoying their best-ever start to a Bundesliga campaign and, while Jonas Hofmann's goal scoring exploits are stealing the headlines, there's a lot more buzz around Florian Neuhaus.

DFB-Pokal 2. Runde | Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Bayer 04 Leverkusen
Florian Neuhaus has chipped in with four assists as Gladbach have climbed to second in the standings.Image: Reuters/W. Rattay

The 21-year-old spent last season on loan with Düsseldorf in the second tier, a move that "worked perfectly" as he became a figurehead of Fortuna's promotion push with six goals and three assists. Already being touted as the breakout star of 2018-19, Neuhaus has made the step up to join the Bundesliga elite look easy.

"In the Bundesliga, it's more tactically and technically driven with games decided in the final third – it's hard, but it suits me," said Neuhaus, who is refusing to get ahead of himself on the cusp of making his 10th appearance for the U-21s. "I'm just concentrating on the U-21s, I haven't set myself a target for the senior side yet."

Simon Terodde (Cologne – striker - 30)

Is this how bad Germany's striker crisis has become? No! Terrode is the long shot of the list, but if you're discussing in-form German players then he can't be ignored. The Cologne striker has had the golden touch up front this season and, including his two appearances in the German Cup, has racked up 20 goals in just 12 games – a rate of scoring that would be the envy of Timo Werner, Mark Uth or Nils Petersen.

Dating back to the summer of 2014, Terodde has comfortably outscored his compatriots in Germany's top two leagues with 89 goals in 140 games. Freiburg's Petersen is next best with 57, while Werner of Leipzig rounds out the top three with 49.

It is Petersen's footsteps the 30-year-old wants to follow in though. After all the Freiburg striker got his first call-up just one season after firing Freiburg back into the top tier. Could Terodde do the same?

James Thorogood Sports reporter and editor, host of Project FußballJMThorogood