Mats Hummels

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Despite Germany injury woes, Boateng and Hummels still frozen out

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Germany may be facing an injury crisis at the back, but that still has not forced Joachim Low’s hand.

After 2018 World Cup disappointment, Low vowed he would never call up Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels again, freezing the two veterans out as part of an overhaul of the national team squad he hoped would turn the country’s fortunes. Now, with a number of injuries to the back line, some wondered if Low would take back his promise and look to the veterans for cover.

With Niklas Sule suffering a torn ACL, Antonio Ruediger struggling with a nagging groin problem, and Thilo Kehrer sidelined with a long-term foot injury, Low stayed the course and kept both Boateng and Hummels out of the team, announcing the squad for upcoming Euro qualifiers against Belarus and Northern Ireland on Friday morning.

Instead, the boss called upon Borussia Monchengladbach captain Mattias Ginter who will partner with a host of young and inexperienced defenders. The squad includes SC Freiburg defender Robin Koch and Hertha center-back Niklas Stark, who between the two share a single international cap – Koch made his Germany debut last month, while Stark has yet to appear in an international match. Also in the squad is 23-year-old Bayer Leverkusen center-back Jonathan Tah, owner of eight international caps for Germany including starts in three of the last five Euro qualifiers.

Finally, a surprise inclusion was Emre Can, despite having been sent off last time out for Germany and is therefore suspended for the Belarus game. Can is capable at center-back, where he was playing at the time of his red card, although his more natural position is defensive midfield.

Keeping Boateng out of the squad is a justifiable decision by Low, especially after the Bayern defender was sent off just 10 minutes into their last match against Eintracht Frankfurt, leading to a heavy 5-1 defeat that left the club three points off the top of the table. Boateng has looked off the pace all season and has been left on the bench by recently fired Bayern boss Nico Kovac six times across all competitions this season.

The Hummels decision is more questionable as Borussia Dortmund is unbeaten in league play since the start of September and has kept three consecutive Bundesliga clean sheets, including one against current leaders Gladbach. Hummels also captained the side in the wild 3-2 comeback win over Inter this week that saw Dortmund completely dominate the second half after falling 2-0 down.

Niklas Sule tears ACL, will miss rest of season and likely Euros

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Bayern Munich defender Niklas Sule suffered an ACL tear that will cause him to miss the rest of the club season as well as Euro 2020, the club announced.

“Apparently, the season is over for him, he can forget about the Euros,” said Bayern club president Uli Hoeness.

Sule has become a critical player for both club and country over the past year. He had been on the pitch for every minute of Bayern’s league campaign until his injury in the 12th minute of the 2-2 draw with Augsburg, and Germany manager Joachim Low had tabbed Sule as a long-term solution at center-back after publicly moving on from Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng in the hopes of overhauling the national team squad.

Sule represents a massive loss for Germany, having started and played the full 90 minutes in each of the past 11 matches for the national side. He has been the lone constant in the national team defense while his center-back partnership is a rotating door of players such as Emre Can, Robin Koch, Mattias Ginter, Jonathan Tah, and Antonio Rudiger. It is unclear whether Low would re-consider his stance on Hummels and/or Boateng with his defensive situation thrown into disarray.

At the club level, Bayern has options to replace Sule but almost all of them represent a downgrade. Benjamin Pavard, who played full-back for the French national team during their 2018 World Cup run, has transitioned to center-back and seen significant playing time already this season. Lucas Hernandez is also a relative newcomer to the center-back role like Pavard, while Boateng could potentially find his way back into the starting lineup having made just four appearances so far this season.

Walker extends Man City deal; Hummels returns to Dortmund

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Kyle Walker has extended his contract at Manchester City until the summer of 2024.

Walker, 29, has signed a two-year contract extension to his current deal at City with the England right back a huge part of their back-to-back Premier League titles wins.

Speaking about his new deal at the Etihad Stadium, Walker was delighted to extend his time playing under Pep Guardiola.

“I’m thrilled to have signed a new deal. Playing for City has been everything I’d hoped it would be and more,” Walker said. “It was an easy decision. I want to be competing for trophies, playing at the highest level, and I feel I have improved hugely as a player during my time here. The Club’s vision – both on and off the pitch – matches mine perfectly and I’m looking forward to spending the new five years here, hopefully winning more silverware.”

Walker has had his critics for some of his defensive work, but there’s no doubt he has improved on the ball under Guardiola and he is now versatile enough to play at center back if needed too.

His power and pace down the right flank gives City an extra option in attack and he has fulfilled his wish of winning trophies following his $63 million transfer from Tottenham in the summer of 2017 with two PL titles, two League Cups and an FA Cup to his name.

Walker has seen off the challenge from Danilo to his right back slot but it is believed City Joao Cancelo will arrive from Juventus this summer to push Walker further at right back. If he does lose his slot to Cancelo he can also play at left back at a push and at center back, so that versatility will be hugely important for Guardiola moving forward.


Everyone says you should never go back, but Mats Hummels has.

The German defender, 30, has returned to Borussia Dortmund after a three-year spell at Bayern Munich, as he heads back to the club where he won back-to-back Bundesliga titles from 2010-12.

Hummels returns to Dortmund on a three-year contract for a transfer fee in the region of $35 million, as that is only $4 million less than Bayern bought him for in 2016. Since then he has won four-straight league titles with Bayern Munich, his boyhood club, but couldn’t help them get any closer to winning the UEFA Champions League title again.

Even though he hasn’t played as well as he would have liked for Bayern and Germany over the past season or so, Hummels is still a very reliable center back and is also capable of playing out of the back. Given Dortmund’s raft of young defenders he could also be key in their development and the fact he left Dortmund in the right way and was a hero in their back-to-back league titles means he will be welcomed back with open arms.

Dortmund have now added Thorgan Hazard, Julian Brandt and Hummels during the offseason as head coach Lucien Favre has also signed a new contract. The second-place Bundesliga team from last season have certainly got their business done early as they look to jump ahead of Bayern who just pipped them to the title in 2018-19.

Hummels’ influence on and off the pitch at the Westfalenstadion will be hugely important for Dortmund.

Muller ‘angry’ after being dropped by Germany

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Thomas Muller has spoken out for the first time since it was announced that Germany manager Jogi Low would drop Muller, Mats Hummels, and Jerome Boateng from selection in 2019 as part of a “new start for the German national team.”

Low came under fire after Germany was bounced from its group in the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and it seems he is making drastic changes to kickstart the country’s push towards Euro 2020.

In an Instagram video, Muller has spoken out against the decision, saying, “The more I think about it, the more the way it was done, makes me angry.”

Muller explains that he is under the impression that Low’s decision was not about his play on the field, but his presence in the locker room. “The coach’s sudden decision obviously left me puzzled,” the Bayern Munich striker said. “A coach must make sporting decisions, no problem, I do not have a problem with that. But it’s mostly the character of the decision that I don’t understand. Mats, Jerome and I are still able to play at the highest level.”

The 29-year-old was also not satisfied with the process which the German national team took to publicly announce the decision. “The press releases of the German football federation and its president [Reinhard Grindel], prepared in advance, were from my point of view in bad taste and showed a lack of consideration.”

Muller is not the only one to speak publicly against the decision. Bayern Munich president Karl-Heinz Rumminedge explained his issue with the announcement, deeming it problematic for other reasons. “We consider the timing and circumstances of the announcement, both to the players and public, as questionable,” said Rummenigge in a joint statement with Bayern sport director Hasan Salihamidzic. “The last international match of the German national team took place on 19 November 2018 – three and a half months ago.”

Boateng also shared his disappointment with the decision, although his prepared statement was not as harsh or heartfelt as Muller’s more personal video. “Low told me in a straightforward conversation today that I will not continue to be a part of the Germany team because he wants to offer the stage to young players and give the team a new face,” Boateng wrote on Twitter. “I personally am convinced that I can still play at the highest level and I will show that in future. … I’d have wished for a different type of farewell for us.”

Back on Tuesday when the decision was announced, Low explained he hoped to use this moment to push his younger players into a more feature role on and off the field. We want to give the team a new look. I am convinced that this is the right step,” Low said. “The youngsters coming through will have the room they need to grow. Now it’s up to them to take on responsibility.”

Muller has made exactly 100 appearances for the German national team, scoring 38 goals including five in the 2014 World Cup as the team rode to victory in Brazil. He scored once in the infamous 7-1 victory over Brazil in the semifinals of that tournament and won the Golden Boot in the 2010 World Cup with five goals as well. Muller had some duds on the international level as well, failing to register a goal in Euro 2016 which saw Germany fall to France in the semifinals, and in Euro 2012 as Germany dropped to Italy in the semis as well. He went goalless in the 2018 World Cup as Germany fell to the bottom of its group looking to defend its title.

Bayern takes swipe at Germany coach over dropped players

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MUNICH (AP) Bayern Munich took a swipe at Germany coach Joachim Loew on Wednesday for the manner and timing of his move to prematurely end the international careers of three of the club’s players.

Thomas Muller, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels were all informed Tuesday that they were no longer in Loew’s plans, part of an ongoing shake-up following Germany’s woeful performance at last year’s World Cup.

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“Basically we do not comment on the sporting decisions of the national coach, but we find the timing and circumstances of the announcement of this decision to the players and the public to be questionable,” Bayern said in a statement.

Bayern also pointed out that Germany’s last game was on Nov. 19 and “the fact the players and public were informed around three months later” before games against Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga and Liverpool in the Champions League “irritates us.”

Loew, however, is expected to name his squad for the team’s next matches in the coming days.

Bayern also paid tribute to its players’ achievements with Germany. All three helped the country win the World Cup in 2014.

More AP German soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/Bundesliga and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports