His was the name on everyone’s lip after dazzling at the U21 European Championships in Italy this summer. Now SC Freiburg’s Luca Waldschmidt is poised to take his game to the next level with Germany’s senior side.
Luca Waldschmidt’s inclusion in the latest Germany squad may have caught some off guard, but based on his current form and trajectory, the choice has merit with Die Nationalmannschaft still seeking solutions for their lack of out-and-out strikers.
Freiburg’s versatile forward ended the previous Bundesliga campaign as the club’s top scorer on nine goals, a tally he almost bettered in just five games at the U21 European Championships.
While his seven efforts in Italy weren’t enough to fire Germany to victory in the final against Spain, or to break Marcus Berg’s tournament record, it was enough to drum up hype. Aided, as is common nowadays, by viral clips of his stunning 35-yard strike against Austria.
“I didn’t make one big leap at the tournament, instead I’ve been developing step-by-step over a longer period of time,” Waldschmidt said to swr.de. “I want to take the positive experience from the U21 Euros with me into the new season. I’m not banging my head against a wall, I’m going into the new season with positivity.”
The results? Waldschmidt has underlined the fact that his form is not a flash in the pan with three goals in as many games in 2019/20. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that his performances have peaked the interest of Joachim Löw, a regular attendee at the Schwarzwald Stadion.
The latest development in a topsy-turvy career adds depth to a tale of potential being fulfilled. The hope is that the 23-year-old has only scratched the surface of his talents, which he’s now set to hone at the highest level professional football has to offer.
Rough start to top-tier life
A prolific goal scorer at youth level with Eintracht Frankfurt, Waldschmidt’s acclimatisation to life at senior level was haphazard. The Eagles let him go in 2016, but his time with Hamburg was just as torrid.
“In Frankfurt there was always a hectic atmosphere, it was the same in Hamburg,” Waldschmidt told Sport Bild earlier this month. “The expectation levels were extremely high, but at HSV we were also the makers of our own downfall. For me it wasn’t easy because in that situation the head coach wanted to rely on experienced players.”
Freiburg provided an exit route to calmer surroundings and, under the tutelage of Christian Streich, breathed new life into a career that was threatening to peter out despite so much promise in its early stages.
“I’ve had more game time in Freiburg which has allowed me to develop well,” said ‘Il Bomber’, as he’s affectionately known. “I’m still working hard at it, but we’re on the right path. The environment and the head coach are very good conditions with which to take the next step.”
Solution to a striker problem?
The next step of a senior international call-up has come earlier than anticipated, especially given Löw’s propensity in the past to hold form in relatively low regard when making squad selections.
However, that suggests the 59-year-old World Cup winning coach has seen something in Waldschmidt’s abilities that goes beyond his goal scoring and speaks to how he fits Germany’s desired approach to the game.
Is he a solution for the lack of an out-and-out striker? “In terms of my hunger to score I am [a classic No9],” the Siegen native told Sportbuzzer. “But otherwise, not really and you can see that too in the way I play and how my body is built. Holding up long balls isn’t really my jam.”
As part of a dynamic frontline that affords creative players freedom though, Waldschmidt brings plenty of qualities to the table capable of complimenting those of the likes of Timo Werner, Serge Gnabry or Marco Reus.
Not wanting to get bogged down in old traditions during a transitional phase for the national team, Löw’s solution to the long-standing problem has been outside the box. As someone who thrives in those positions on the pitch, Waldschmidt’s selection is another indication of how Germany are forging a different future.