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After signing a contract extension (until 2014) and tentatively solving the "Michael Ballack question" -- the Germany captain will have an unofficial farewell match against Brazil in August -- coach Jogi L�w has few problems left. The biggest one might be finding places for a wave of new, exciting prospects in the squad. Here's a projection of Germany's next top model professionals (under 22 years).Story by Si.com

1. M, Mario G�tze, Borussia Dortmund, (18 years old).

You could say it's all in the genes. G�tze, 18 is the son of a university professor for data technology and naturally one of the brightest talents around. In the absence of his injured Borussia teammate Shinji Kagawa, the attacking midfielder has taken on extra responsibilities in the second half of the season. Some German commentators have compared his playing style to Zinedine Zidane, but G�tze is more of a dribbler than a playmaker. Louis van Gaal's change of personnel -- the Bayern Munich coach pitted Brazilian Luiz Gustavo as left back against him, to no avail -- in Borussia's 3-1 win in Munich was a measure of his progress this season. Mesut �zil, you better watch out.

2. M, Toni Kroos, Bayern Munich, (21).

He's played in a World Cup semifinal and throughout the Bundesliga season for the Bavarian giants. However, there's a sense that the true potential of the central midfielder has not yet been fulfilled, that the real extent of his abilities have not yet come to the forefront. Kroos, a wonderful striker of the ball, who's especially good with free-kicks and through-balls, has grown in stature since Louis van Gaal moved him further back on the pitch and it'll be interesting to see whether L�w can be persuaded to extend the fledgling Schweinsteiger-Kroos double-act in Bayern's 4-2-3-1 system to the national side.

3. M, Alexander Merkel, AC Milan, (19).

Merkel, a tricky, creative midfielder, is not too dissimilar to G�tze in style. But his background couldn't be more different. Merkel was born in Pervomayskiy, Kazakhstan to ethnic German parents. The family emigrated to Germany when Alexander was six years old. After learning the trade at VfB Stuttgart, Merkel suffered a setback: bad grades in school saw him expulsed from the VfB youth academy. A trial at Milan convinced the Italians of his skills, however, and this season has been his breakthrough. Merkel could be the first German international who has become a professional in Serie A first.

4. M, Sven Bender, Borussia Dortmund, (21).

His nickname is "Manni," after former Bayern Munich midfielder Manfred Bender, but unlike his namesake, Sven's not one for elegance and casual brilliance. He's what Germans call a "Kilometerfresser," a player who eats up the ground and does all the hidden, dirty work that enables others to shine. The former TSV 1860 Munich player stepped in when veteran Borussia midfielder Sebastian Kehl picked up an injury in September 2010 and has played a massive role in propelling J�rgen Klopp's team to the top of the table. Few positions in the national team are more contested than defensive midfield but it's only a question of time before the intelligent and humble Bender will stake his claim.

5. M, Lars Bender, Bayer Leverkusen, (21).

Sven's identical twin brother is every inch as good. "He's an enormous talent with a super character," said Bayer coach Jupp Heynckes. "He steps on the gas, even when the tank's empty. It's the stuff international players are made of". Bender's excellent form is partly to blame for Michael Ballack's travails at the BayArena; his consummate positioning and ball-winning abilities have made it difficult for Heynckes to leave him out.

6. F, Andr� Sch�rrle, Mainz 05, (20).

No wonder the tall, pacey striker is on course for his second international game against Kazakhstan on Saturday: he's currently the second-best German forward in the league, with 12 goals in 19 starts. His coach Thomas Tuchel is convinced that the veritable lightweight (74 kg, 1.84m) will soon be a superstar. "He's got the potential to be truly world class," said Tuchel. Often described as a faster version of Thomas M�ller (of Bayern Munich), Sch�rrle's fantastic season made Leverkusen pay out €8 million ($11.2M) for his services from next June.

7. M, Ilkay G�ndogan, 1. FC N�rnberg, 20.

G�ndogan, a versatile midfielder who's equally at home in front of the back four or behind the strikers, flirted with the idea of playing for Turkey, the country of his parents. But in January, he decided to stick with the Nationalmannschaft, the team he has been representing at youth level. "I grew up here, and I've adopted the German mentality," he said. G�ndogan's phenomenal progress has alerted scouts from bigger clubs, including Manchester United, and Dortmund are reportedly interested, too. He's currently able to concentrate on his A-Levels as a hairline fracture in his foot has kept him sidelined for a month.

8. M, Lewis Holtby, Mainz 05, (20).

As a child, Holtby supported England, the country of his dad, a British soldier stationed in Germany. The small, inventive midfielder briefly entertained thoughts of playing for Fabio Capello's team earlier in the season but has since changed his mind. After a phenomenal start to the campaign, Holtby's star has waned somewhat after the winter break but there can be no doubt about his talent. New Schalke 04 manager Ralf Rangnick has made sure he will return to the Veltins-Arena after his loan-deal expires in the summer.

9. F, Peniel Mlapa, TSG Hoffenheim, 20.

Mlapa, a big, powerful center forward in the Carlton-Cole-mold, was born in Lom�, Togo. He grew up in Munich and played for TSV 1860 alongside the Bender brothers before moving to Hoffenheim at the beginning of the season. Mlapa is a classic target man who can hold up play or chase after long balls into the channels, but technically, he's made great strides, too. If three goals in 23 games for Hoffenheim has been a slightly disappointing return, U21-international Mlapa should still find himself on the fringes of the senior Germany team come next season.

10. M, Boris Vukcevic, TSG Hoffenheim, (21).

Croatian-born Vukcevic is a man with a swagger; his game is faintly reminiscent of AC Milan's Zvonimir Boban. For Hoffenheim, he mainly plays on the wing but it's feasible to see a future in central midfield for the U-21 international, who's both powerful and deft on the ball. Inconsistent performances and Hoffenheim's indifferent form have slightly hampered his progress in recent months though.
 

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Add Hummels, Reus, and Marin (of course), and it's evident that the German National Team has quite a bright future,
 

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Marco Reus and Julian Draxler too.
 

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I think I'm in love with Marko Marin. He's too sick. But he's German, so I have issues. The only other Germans I have any affection for, in the whole wide World, apart from the two Stefans (Edberg and Effenberg), is Rita.
 

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Am I the only one who thinks Kroos isn't doing the expected quick progress as yet?

He was a teenage sensation, much like our very own Bojan, but yet has to make a very good impression for the first team for a prolonged time. Hmm...
 

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He needs to have the keys to the team and for it to play around him.. he was good last year, but the fact he can't break into VG more then a late sub is worrying.

He's quality tho, that much is not debatable.
 

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I think I'm in love with Marko Marin. He's too sick. But he's German, so I have issues. The only other Germans I have any affection for, in the whole wide World, apart from the two Stefans (Edberg and Effenberg), is Rita.
Stefan Edberg is from Sweden.

He needs to have the keys to the team and for it to play around him.. he was good last year, but the fact he can't break into VG more then a late sub is worrying.
Break into Van Gaal? What is on your mind Stanko?
 

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^ :howler:

I really wonder about Ilkay Gundogan. He's apparently pledged allegiance to Germany, yet he plays in the positions they're most stacked. There is no way he's taking Ozil's place, and the alternatives there are Gotze and Marin. Then, if you consider a deeper role, he's not as defensive as the DM's they have in Khedira or the Bender twins, nor is he likely to oust Schweinsteiger and his alternative Kroos.

He might end up playing for Turkey yet. At least I hope so.
 

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^ :howler:

I really wonder about Ilkay Gundogan. He's apparently pledged allegiance to Germany, yet he plays in the positions they're most stacked. There is no way he's taking Ozil's place, and the alternatives there are Gotze and Marin. Then, if you consider a deeper role, he's not as defensive as the DM's they have in Khedira or the Bender twins, nor is he likely to oust Schweinsteiger and his alternative Kroos.

He might end up playing for Turkey yet. At least I hope so.
Didn't they change the rules? I.e. once you declare allegiance with a certain NT, you cannot switch afterwards? Even if it is on the youth level?
 

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The rule used to be that if you had played for the youth teams of one nation, you had until your 21st birthday to switch to another national team.

But if I recall correctly, that age limit was scrapped, and as long as a player doesn't play in a full international, they are free to switch.
 

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pretty good list in the top 10...with some exceptions. Vukcevic's career basically ended in 2014 after a car accident and Merkel hasn't been very successful, not even making it into the rotation in Udinese...while Mlapa is playing with Bochum in 2. Bundesliga and not doing that good.
 

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┌∩┐(◣_◢)┌&#874
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huh , this was yrs ago
 
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