According to RB Leipzig sporting director Max Eberl, Enzo Fernandez is the epitome of the type of footballer Germany should be nurturing.
Benfica midfielder Fernandez had an outstanding World Cup for Argentina and has since been linked to a host of big European clubs, fueling rumors of a move into the January transfer window.
The 21-year-old was an active player on the trophy-winning team and Eberl said Fernández and Rodrigo de Paul were the players whose activities attracted attention.
Eberl, former sporting director of Borussia Mönchengladbach for 14 years, is considered one of the smartest thinkers in German football.
He wants leaders to be created and believes that a trait can be as important as skills.
“We must put this heart back into action. Recently, we have moved away a little from German virtues, such as reliability and assertiveness, ”said Eberl.
In an interview with Kicker magazine, Eberl talked about players approaching the end of their international careers.
With Germany hosting Euro 2024, this is a moment when there is pressure to build a winning team, and the exit from the World Cup group stage suggests that coach Hansi Flick is a long way from creating such a group.
2 – Germany have failed to make it past the group stage in each of the last two World Cups after having made it through the first round in each of the previous 16 tournaments since 1954. AufWiedersehen. #CRCGER #Soccer World Cup pic.twitter.com/9yQiJD71zg
— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz) December 1, 2022
Eberl said: “I think we have outstanding footballers in Germany, but we also know that we will lose very important players such as Manuel Neuer, Thomas Müller and Ilkay Gündogan.
“We need players like Enzo Fernandez or Rodrigo de Paul with the Argentines. Good players who act with full dedication and the ability to work in a team. We’ve lost some of that greed to win every duel.”
Among players from teams that have qualified for the World Cup knockouts and fought at least 60 duels, only Croatian Mateo Kovacic in a select group of 16 has surpassed Fernandez’s 59 percent success rate (40 of 68 duels won).
Germany goalkeeper Neuer broke his leg while skiing after the World Cup and will miss the rest of the season. He is 36, his Bayern Munich team-mate Müller is 33, and Manchester City midfielder Gundogan is 32. They are in the twilight of their international careers and the new generation has yet to show that they can deliver the success that Germany expects.
Eberl added: “Time is clearly against us, because in the next 10 to 15 years we will only see what we have missed.
“We have to get more boys into football again. And one question: does it make sense to have youth academies until the age of eight, or should we leave the boys in their clubs and start with youth academies later?”