Germany need a new image, direction and purpose after a disastrous World Cup campaign. The youthful exuberance of Leroy Sané and his fellow young teammates is vital to revitalizing a flailing national team.
On a balmy, uncharacteristically sunny October afternoon in Berlin, Leroy Sané and Julian Draxler's genuine, heartfelt laughter brightened up an otherwise mundane German Football Associatin (DFB) press conference.
The two broke into hysterics after Sane faltered on a question about whether he would prefer to answer in English or German. It was a welcome shift in a presser heavy on PR-trained, tame answers.
Throughout the week, Germany's top brass have reiterated their wish to reconnect with a dissatisfied and disenfranchised fan base. The younger squad members will be essential in that quest.
In a team that seems to have taken itself too seriously leading into the World Cup, with excessive media restrictions and an aloof arrogance when dismissing poor results leading into the tournament, Germany's youth can push the team in a new direction.
Sane, 22, will be and should be at the center of coach Joachim Löw's job to reinvigorate the national team.
Sane primed for breakthrough
Despite an impressive 14 goals and 19 assists at club level last season, the Manchester City forward is yet to reproduce his form on the international stage and is yet to score a goal for Germany in 13 appearances.
But with two high-profile games against the Netherlands and France in the UEFA Nations League over the next week, now's his chance to shine and stand up as the face of the new Germany.
Sané has been criticized for his poor attitude over the past six months, by Löw, by teammates and even by Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola. Controversially left of out of Löw's World Cup squad, Guardiola then left Sane on the bench, and once in the stands, at the start of the new Premier League season.
During the September international break, Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos further questioned his teammate's attitude.
"Sometimes you have the feeling with Leroy's body language that it is all the same whether we win or lose," Kroos said.
"He has to improve his body language. He's a player who has everything you need to be a world-class player but sometimes you have to tell him he has to perform better."
A dangerous observation to make, especially as Mesut Özil has similarly been lambasted throughout his career for apparent poor body language. Yet Sané has taken all the criticism on board with grace and maturity.
"I am more motivated than ever now, " Sané said. "I can accept honest criticism, positive or negative.
"I respect people's opinions and will continue to try and work on myself. At the end of the day, criticism motivates me."
Brave new world
Sitting next to Sané as he responded to his critics in Tuesday's press conference was another potential piece to Löw's puzzle. With almost 50 caps and having captained Germany to Confederations Cup glory last year, Draxler could also prove crucial in Germany's future makeup.
Although only three years older than Sané at 25, Draxler is an obvious contender to emerge as a leader among this new, youthful brigade emerging in Löw's squad announcements.
Julian Brandt, 22, Niklas Süle, 23, Joshua Kimmich, 23, and Timo Werner, 22, will all be involved in the next two matches, while Leon Goretzka, 23, and Kai Havertz, 19, have unfortunately been forced to withdraw due to injury.
Fans will be hoping to see this group elevated to the starting XI as soon as possible, in order to give them adequate time playing together in preparation for Euro 2018 and even World Cup 2022.
Two other injured absentees from this squad, Ilkay Gundogan, 27, and Marco Reus, 29, should be given starring roles alongside Draxler to help guide these youngsters to glory.
Löw has his obvious favorites in the national team setup, but he must now show he has the guts to make big changes to a squad that has looked tired and predictable in recent years.
Handing Sané the starting place his talent deserves in the next two matches against the Netherlands and France will be a good start. From there, it's up to Sané to prove he's grown as a player and prove himself undroppable in Löw's brave new world.