Following Germany’s poor display against Hungary, more and more questions are being asked about the Nationalmannschaft as the World Cup approaches. One issue under discussion is the lack of firepower and the ineffectiveness of the current forward options. Does the Bundesliga’s current top German scorer Niclas Füllkrug provide a potential solution?
With Timo Werner continuing to prove an enigma for Germany (and Chelsea/ RB Leipzig) the need for an alternative to lead the line for Germany is becoming more obvious. Hansi Flick nominated VfL Wolfsburg’s Lukas Nmecha for the current squad, but he has now suffered a knee injury. Kai Havertz playing as a ‘false nine’ is just that- false and beyond that Flick is left with either playing Thomas Müller or Serge Gnabry as the ‘striker.’
If only there were a German number nine out there, in good form and capable of leading the line. Had Germany had such an option against Hungary on Friday, Hansi Flick may not have lost his unbeaten record as Bundestrainer.
There are whispers, turning into semi-audible shouts that Werder Bremen’s Niclas Füllkrug should be considered for a World Cup call-up. The 29-year-old is the top scoring German in the Bundesliga with five goals from seven matches and he would certainly bring a touch of the traditional number nine to the party. He led Bremen to promotion last season with a 19-goal haul, and has carried his form into the new season.
Füllkrug has not been capped at full international level and it was way back in 2014 that he last appeared for the U-20 team. However, with FIFA allowing a squad of 26 players for the Qatar World Cup rather than the usual 23, Hansi Flick has a little more wriggle room in terms of player selection and a variation in attack could be one way he uses the extra berths.
It is almost inevitable that Flick will maintain his faith in Werner as the spearhead, but if asked who the best German striker is right now, would the answer be Werner or Füllkrug?
“He’s a player who can bring another dimension into the game,” explained Clemens Fritz, Bremen’s head of professional football. “There aren’t too many centre-forwards like him in Germany. I know that the Bundesliga is of course followed at DFB, so they will think about who will be nominated for the squad.”
The player himself isn’t holding his breath waiting for a call from Hansi Flick. “I don’t think it makes any sense to start talking about things that aren’t currently a reality,” Füllkrug said. “I try to give my best every week, and I will keep doing that, whatever the scenario. I give everything for Bremen because I want to be the best version of myself.”
The younger Lukas Nmecha and perhaps Karim Adeyemi are in Hansi Flick’s mind for one of the striker berths on the World Cup roster. Could Niclas Füllkrug also be forcing his way into the coach’s thought process and be an outside wildcard for the World Cup? The case for the prosecution is growing.