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Who is Germany's best striker heading into the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar?

Chuck Blake

Updated: Sep 28, 2022 07:25

Who is Germany's best striker heading into the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar?


Will Timo Werner (c.) wear No. 9 for Germany in the FIFA World Cup in 2022?

Timo Werner is one of the usual suspects who has been selected for the Germany squad to face Hungary and England in the UEFA Nations League in September, but is the RB Leipzig front presently the best-performing German striker? evaluates the choices with two months left before the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup begins.

Timo Werner (RB Leipzig)

The player most likely to lead the line when Germany faces Japan on November 23 in the opening match of Group E is Werner, according to the odds. The 26-year-old has started 11 of the team's 15 games in the primary striker position since Hansi Flick took over as manager of the 2014 world champions last summer, scoring eight goals.

Werner has an outstanding return of just about a goal every two games, with 24 goals in 55 appearances for his country of origin. Flick has been assisted by a variety of talented players, including Thomas Müller, Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sane, Jamal Musiala, Kai Havertz, Marco Reus, and Jonas Hofmann, in his favored 4-2-3-1 formation. Werner has nearly usually served as the center of the Germany attack, while some of those players can also be used as a No. 9 or even a False 9.

The Stuttgart native, though, has failed to regain the amazing scoring form that made him famous across the world when playing for Leipzig between 2016 and 2020. He regularly reached double digits in the Bundesliga during that time, scoring no fewer than 28 goals in the 2019–20 season to set a new club record with 95 goals in all competitions.


Werner, a center-forward who is anything but typical, is in the lead for the job of being Germany's top striker in Qatar.

The German striker moved from Leipzig to Chelsea in the summer of 2020, but despite some notable highlights, such as winning the UEFA Champions League in May 2021, he never quite found his footing at Stamford Bridge. He only managed to score 10 Premier League goals over the course of two seasons there and started nearly a quarter of his club games (21/89) from the bench. Werner said that the desire to begin representing his country in Qatar had played a role in his decision to return to Leipzig in August 2022.

"Obviously I had the World Cup on my mind," he explained. "I want to prepare for that as best as I can, and the perfect way to do that is through playing games. I didn't manage to do that in my second season at Chelsea."

Werner also revealed that he had consulted Flick before making his decision, getting a thumbs-up from the national coach when he spoke of his plans to come back to the Bundesliga: "He thought it was a very good idea. He told me I should do what feels comfortable."

Werner may be happy to be back at the Red Bull Arena, but he hasn't been at his best in 2022 or '23. While he did score a hat-trick in the DFB Cup's opening round against fourth-tier Teutonia Ottensen, he has only managed one goal in six Bundesliga appearances. Despite defeating Borussia Dortmund 3-0 on Matchday 6, Leipzig are also having trouble getting going. They are now ranked 12th in the standings after losing to the current league leaders, Union Berlin, and suffering significant losses to Eintracht Frankfurt and Borussia Mönchengladbach.

Barring injury, Werner is sure to be on the plane to Qatar in November, but he will hope to find a touch of the old goalscoring magic to hold down his starting berth and help Germany emerge from a tricky group also containing Spain and Costa Rica.

Lukas Nmecha (Wolfsburg)

The fact that Nmecha is the only other known striker in the current Germany team indicates that he has a good chance of playing in Qatar. Since making his debut against Liechtenstein in November 2021, the Wolfsburg player has largely been used as a late substitute and has yet to get a start under Flick.

The 23-year-old is presently outscoring Leipzig's striker in the Bundesliga with three goals in seven appearances for the Wolves, despite not having Werner's international experience. His participation has been one of the few shining moments in an otherwise dreadful campaign for Niko Kovac's team; they are now in 17th place with just five points from a possible 21.

Nmecha hasn't exactly made a splash with the senior team, but he's already had success wearing the national jersey. The former Manchester City striker, who was born in Hamburg but raised in England, switched his allegiance from England to Germany in early 2019 and went on to shine at the UEFA European U21 Championship in 2021, scoring the game-winning goal in the championship match against Portugal (1-0) and winning the Golden Boot for his four tournament goals.

He presents Flick with a little different profile as well. Nmecha is a more traditional center-forward in the Mario Gomez mold, a target man with predatory instincts in front of goal. Werner, on the other hand, earned his reputation on a scary turn of pace and clinical finishing.

"He has a strong presence in the penalty area," Flick said of Nmecha after his first call-up last year. "He always makes good runs in behind the defence, keeps his composure and holds the ball up well. We can make good use of those skills."

"Lukas comes very close to the ideal striker," agreed Müller, who knows a thing or two about the subject, having spent much of his career playing alongside serial goal-getters like Gomez, Miroslav Klose and Robert Lewandowski. "He's already scored some typical No.9 goals in training. He looks comfortable in the area and he's hungry for goals."


Lukas Nmecha is the forward utilized by Germany head coach Hansi Flick who most closely resembles a conventional No.9.

Nmecha is now on a mission to sate that appetite by scoring his first goal(s) for Germany at the international level and increasing his chances of making Flick's final World Cup roster. Early in 2022, a fractured ankle put a stop to his development, but now that the incident is well behind him, the promising young striker is looking ahead.

"I do think I've got a good chance [of going to Qatar]. I've only been with the national team a few times, so I'm by no means guaranteed to play. It's the Germany national team – you have to work your way in."

Niclas Füllkrug (Werder Bremen)

And what if the best striker in Germany right now was a player who had never donned the illustrious white jersey? Füllkrug, who is 29 years old and has never represented his country, is currently in the midst of one of his most productive phases. He scored 19 goals in Bundesliga 2 last season to propel Werder Bremen into promotion, and he's continued that success in the Bundesliga, scoring five goals through the first seven games. He now ranks behind Union's Sheraldo Becker, a Suriname international, in the scoring rankings.

Despite scoring eight goals in 16 games for the U19s and U20s, Füllkrug hasn't played for Germany in more than ten years. When he scored 14 goals for Hannover in the 2017–18 Bundesliga season, outpacing Werner and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, then of Dortmund, there was talk of a potential call-up, but it never happened. Werner and Gomez were ultimately flown to Russia by Joachim Löw for the tragic 2018 World Cup, which saw Germany, the reigning champions, abandon the competition at the group stage.

Füllkrug has found the back of the net in a third of his games in Germany's top two divisions, scoring goals for Bremen, Hannover, and Nuremberg over the years with 33 goals in 105 Bundesliga games and another 47 from 135 Bundesliga 2 games.

He is a skilled penalty taker with excellent aerial ability, and this season, he has scored two outstanding headed goals against VfB Stuttgart and Bochum. He is more than just a fox in the box, as evidenced by the strike he made against Wolfsburg from outside the penalty area, demonstrating his willingness to take a chance from a distance. Additionally, he has worked flawlessly with fellow forward Marvin Ducksch, who scored 20 goals as Bremen finished second in Bundesliga 2 and reentered the top last season.

"He's a player who can bring another dimension into the game,"observed Clemens Fritz, the former Bremen right-back who now acts as the club's head of professional football. "There aren't too many centre-forwards like him in Germany."

"We don't develop too many world-class strikers,"echoed Flick, who is expected to attend Bremen's next away game against Hoffenheim to see Füllkrug in action. Crucially, the national coach will be able to pick three extra players for this year's World Cup, with FIFA expanding maximum squad sizes from 23 to 26. "As we have three more options, the coaching staff and I are thinking about what qualities we need in certain situations."


The highest-scoring German player in the 2022–23 Bundesliga after seven games is Niclas Füllkrug, who has yet to receive a cap.

Füllkrug could, therefore, be a surprise inclusion in Flick's final list, which has to be submitted to FIFA by 13 November. Given his current form, the Bremen youth product will surely be one of the names under consideration, although he downplayed his chances when asked about a potential trip to Qatar.

"I don't think it makes any sense to start talking about things that aren't currently a reality,"Füllkrug said. "I try to give my best every week, and I will keep doing that, whatever the scenario. I give everything for Bremen because I want to be the best version of myself."

Karim Adeyemi (Dortmund)

Adeyemi, who is only 19 years old, made his international debut against Armenia in September 2021, unlike Füllkrug, who has yet to win his first caps for Germany. Even better, he scored his first goal in World Cup qualifying after expertly combining with fellow youngster Florian Wirtz, blasting home at the near post to complete a 6-0 victory.

Adeyemi was one of the marquee summer signings for Dortmund from Red Bull Salzburg, where he had a breakout season in 2021–2022, scoring 23 goals across all competitions. He not only won his club's third consecutive league and cup, but he also finished as the joint-top scorer in the Austrian Bundesliga and made a name for himself in Europe. He stood out in particular during Salzburg's 3-1 Champions League victory over Wolfsburg, in which he and Nmecha both scored goals.

Although highly regarded, the 20-year-old hasn't had the best start to life at BVB. Only 23 minutes into his Bundesliga debut against Bayer Leverkusen, the young player was unfortunate to get a foot injury. Since then, he has only made two league appearances: he played for an hour in the 1-0 victory against Hertha Berlin and entered the game as a substitute in the second half of the 1-0 Revierderby triumph over Schalke. In the Champions League defeat to Manchester City, he also had a brief cameo appearance, but the Black-and-Yellow supporters have yet to witness his full potential. He also didn't make Flick's squad to play Hungary and England due to his lack of playing time.


"His speed and goalscoring ability are impressive," enthused Dortmund sporting director Sebastian Kehl. "Even if Karim is already at a very advanced stage in his development as a footballer and athlete, we still see enormous potential for more."

Flick clearly shares that view, having handed Adeyemi four caps, although he has warned the young striker that he will have to work hard to earn himself a regular place in the squad. "Karim still has to develop further," the former Bayern Munich boss said in June. "At the moment, Lukas Nmecha is a bit ahead of him, and very committed in training. Karim has to take the next step at Dortmund."

In order for Adeyemi to put his injury issues behind him and aid Edin Terzic's team, who are now second in the table behind Union, in mounting a strong title bid, the upcoming weeks will therefore be vital. He scored his lone goal for his new club in the DFB Cup against 1860 Munich, a team from his hometown, and came close to scoring in the Bundesliga against Leverkusen with a shot that needed Reus to poke over the line.

Adeyemi has elements of Werner in his game: he is quick, technically talented, and cool in front of goal. However, if he wants to play on football's grandest stage later this year, he will need to succeed with BVB. Dortmund has a crucial stretch of games after the international break in Cologne: Sevilla away, Bayern at home, Sevilla at home, and Union away. October seems to be the ideal moment for Adeyemi to turn some heads.

The Alternatives


Flick also has the choice to forgo an outright striker and put his trust in players who are nominally offensive midfielders or wingers thanks to the embarrassment of attacking assets at his disposal. Gnabry, who frequently led the line for Germany in the latter stages of Löw's rule, is the best candidate.

'Are you not amused?' In recent seasons, Serge Gnabry has been among the most reliable players for club and nation.

With a mind-blowing 20 international goals from just 36 games, the 27-year-old Bayern winger boasts an even higher goals-per-game ratio than Werner. During an amazing 2019, he scored nearly half of them, mostly in UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying. In an ironic twist, despite starting all three of Germany's group games at center forward against France, Portugal, and Hungary, he failed to score after helping the team advance to the tournament. Gnabry has played on the right flank again since Flick took over, but it hasn't stopped him from scoring four more goals.

It won't have escaped Flick that Gnabry's most accomplished performance this season came alongside Sadio Mane at the tip of a 4-4-2, when he scored one and set up another for the Senegalese star in a 6-1 demolition of Frankfurt. Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann has used Gnabry in a variety of positions this season, on both the flanks and up front.

Havertz has also demonstrated his skill as a striker, to the point where his former Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel thought it was incorrect to call him a "False 9": The former Dortmund coach said, "He's really strong in behind the last line of defense, and when he plays at center-forward, that's what we want from him.

The 23-year-old made his No. 9 debut with Leverkusen at the end of the 2019–20 season. He moved up from midfield into a center-forward position when attackers Kevin Volland and Lucas Alario both sustained injuries, finishing the season with 12 Bundesliga goals. In the years 2021–2022, he was mostly used as Chelsea's primary striker and scored twice as many goals in the Premier League than Werner.

Havertz is the guy Flick has selected to lead the line when Werner has been absent from the Germany lineup in recent months. He started there again as Germany came close to upsetting England in June, eventually settling for a 1-1 draw following a late Harry Kane penalty. He scored from that position in last November's 4-1 victory over Armenia. In the subsequent 3-3 tie at Wembley, he began and scored twice.

Havertz hasn't been in the best of form so far this season. He just has one Premier League goal, which he admits he "needed" against West Ham right before the break. This is a time of transition for the Aachen native due to a new coach in Graham Potter and further competition from Aubameyang, but on his best days, he still ranks among the best frontmen in the league.

How about Müller, the World Cup player with the most goals scored while still playing? The position of the Bayern great has been the subject of heated controversy for many years. Although, for club and country, he has typically thrived just off the shoulder of the main striker, he has also on occasion been given the reins of Germany's attack. When Löw and his team won the world championship in 2014, Müller started the first four games at center striker in a 4-3-3 formation, getting things started out in spectacular fashion with a hat-trick against Portugal and securing a critical victory against the USA. As the competition went on, he moved further to the right, but he was still essential to Germany winning the World Cup for a fourth time.


The 2014 World Cup was won by Thomas Müller (shown) while Flick was Joachim Löw's assistant coach.

In summary, Flick has a wide range of options as he searches for the ideal attack strategy between now and the 2022 showpiece's opening ceremony in November. It might be the same as it was with wonder player Werner, a new approach with the effective Füllkrug, or another Bayern blitz orchestrated by Gnabry and Müller. Expect goals in any case. several objectives.

Jude Bellingham: the future captain of Borussia Dortmund?

Timo Werner: What role will the German attacker play at RB Leipzig?

Sadio Mane, the reluctant star of Bayern Munich, is destined to flourish in the Bundesliga

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