German national team trainer Julian Nagelsmann has put the cat amongst the pigeons with recent comments he made about the potential recall of Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos to the squad for the European Championships. Could Kroos actually be tempted out of international retirement? Should this even be a consideration for the Bundestrainer?
‘Interesting thought,’ was Nagelsmann’s reply when asked on ZDF’s recent SportStudio about the possibility of a recall of Toni Kroos. “My job is to think about all German players. Toni is a great person who says his opinion clearly – and a very successful footballer. You can talk to him about everything.
“I think playing a Euros at home is an attractive prospect for all German players. It depends on him, his performances and on other players.”
Kroos announced his retirement from the German national team following a disappointing 2020 European Championships in England saying that he wanted to spend more time with his family and prolong his club career at the Bernabeu. He had previously been a vital cog in the German midfield winning 106 caps and lifting the World Cup in 2014.
Looking at his club stats for Real, it is clear that even at the age of 33 he is still a key player and either matching or outperforming the likes of Ilkay Gundogan, Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka. His quality cannot be doubted, but there is already a lot of scepticism about the wisdom of attempting to bring him back into the national team.
Bayern President Uli Hoeneß for one has quickly moved to oppose any such consideration. “That would be quite a titanic signal” he has said. “Kroos is an outstanding footballer, but I don’t think he can save German football.”
Ex-Bayern and Germany captain Lothar Matthaüs has also weighed in with doubts saying, “If Kroos could play full-back – okay. But the German team has the least need in the midfield. That’s how you open a barrel that you don’t even need. Kroos isn’t a defensive midfielder either, but if Nagelsmann suddenly sees Kroos as the holding six, there will be a lot of discussion.”
The big question is as to where and how Nagelsmann would consider lining up Kroos. You would need a defensive number six to play alongside him, this could mean that Joshua Kimmich might have to switch to right full back. Kroos would be taking the place of another midfielder and moving forward, is this a wise move for the development of the national team.
As Matthaüs has alluded to, the German national team has a number of issues to solve before the summer, but a player like Kroos doesn’t really solve the more urgent problems and would perhaps be seen as a step backwards. That said it is hard to argue against a player of such immense quality- would Kroos make the midfield better or worse?
There are still many ifs and buts and the decision will not rest solely with Julian Nagelsmann. Kroos himself has to want to return and show at his club that he deserves to be considered on merit rather than on past glories. It’s a conundrum for the Bundestrainer but a luxury many other coaches would love to have.