(Reuters) – Major changes in the German team in the past year have left it without a group of established leaders on and off the pitch and the younger squad will need to step up in the coming matches, midfielder Julian Draxler said on Thursday.
The 25-year-old German international, who has earned 49 caps and was part of the squad that won the 2014 World Cup, is already among the most experienced German players for the forthcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Belarus and Estonia.
Coach Joachim Loew has dropped several other world champions — Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels and Thomas Mueller — as he sought to rejuvenate the squad after last year’s shock early World Cup exit and Nations League relegation.
“We are on a road toward forming a new team. Time will tell who will lead it,” Draxler told a news conference from their Dutch training base in Venlo.
“We are not that far yet as to say he or he will lead the team. We have a lot of young players, and with (almost) 50 caps for me there is a certain experience, but it is not like I am saying I am here to take over all the responsibility.”
Draxler is the most capped outfield player in Loew’s squad for Saturday’s game in Belarus and Tuesday’s qualifier at home to Estonia. Only goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has more.
The Germans are in third place in qualifying Group C on three points, with a game in hand on the Dutch, also on three points, and leaders Northern Ireland on six points.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by David Goodman)