Max Eberl wishes Germany could find a player in the mould of Enzo Fernandez in time for Euro 2024, saying youngsters need to show desire.
Enzo Fernandez is the epitome of the type of footballer Germany must look to produce, according to RB Leipzig sporting director Max Eberl.
Benfica midfielder Fernandez had an excellent World Cup for Argentina and has since been linked with a number of big European clubs, sparking transfer speculation in the January transfer window.
The 21-year-old was an action figure in the team that lifted the trophy, and Eberl said Fernandez and Rodrigo de Paul were the players the industry caught on.
Formerly Borussia Monchengladbach’s sporting director for 14 years, Eberl is regarded as one of the smartest thinkers in German football.
He wants to see leaders produced and believes character can be just as important as skill.
“We should again focus more on this heart for the cause. We have recently moved a bit away from German strengths such as robustness and assertiveness,” Eberl said.
In an interview with Kicker magazine, Eberl talked about players who are nearing the end of their international careers.
With Germany hosting Euro 2024, this is when the pressure is on to field a winning team, and a World Cup group stage exit suggests coach Hansi Flick is a long way from making such a group.
Eberl said: “I think we have excellent footballers in Germany, but we also know that we will lose very important players like Manuel Neuer, Thomas Muller and Ilkay Gundogan.
“We need players like Enzo Fernandez or Rodrigo de Paul with the Argentines. Good footballers who act with total commitment and the ability to work as part of a team. We have lost a bit of that greed to win every single duel.”
Among players from teams that reached the knockout stage of the World Cup and played at least 60 duels, only Croatia’s Mateo Kovacic in the selected group of 16 bettered Fernandez’s 59 percent success rate (40 of 68 duels won).
Germany goalkeeper Neuer broke his leg in a skiing accident after the World Cup and will be out for the rest of the season. He is 36, while his Bayern Munich team-mates Muller 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 they can achieve the success Germany expects.
Eberl added: “Time is clearly against us because in the next 10 to 15 years we will only see what we missed.
“We need to get more boys into football again. And one question would be: does it make sense to have youth academies under the age of eight, or should we keep the boys at their clubs and start the junior academies later?”