Bundesliga player profile – Toni Kroos, Leverkusen

When Germany last won the World Cup back in 1990, Toni Kroos was just six months old. Needless to say, the landmark achievement would certainly not have been well remembered given his tender age but, like most German players, is constantly reminded of his country’s historic moment.

There is a growing general consensus, however, that if Germany does ever reclaim the famous trophy, then it is players like the on-loan Leverkusen man who will be a key factor in the country’s success. It’s for that reason that at just 19-years-old, the German press are bombarding national team boss Joachim Low with calls for his inclusion in next summer’s 23-man World Cup squad – despite having not yet made his senior international debut.

At youth level, Kroos has already excelled on the big stage for his homeland. At the Under-17 World Cup in 2007, the Bayern youngster was awarded the tournament’s Golden Ball in honour of being voted the competition’s best player. His scintillating performances, including five goals, were pivotal in Germany’s eventual third-place finish. Despite failing to win the trophy, it turned out to be a major breakthrough for Kroos who was now becoming recognised as one of Germany’s hottest prospects. However, no-one was happier with his achievements than his club Bayern. Having spotted the youngster a few years before, the Bavarians moved heaven and earth to sign him in the summer of 2006 – and now their eagerness looked justified.

Kroos began his career with Hansa Rostock in 2002 where he was signed as a 12-year-old. After spending four years honing his game with the East Germans, Bayern made the move for the 16-year-old after watching him excel at various youth levels. At first, Rostock tried hard to keep hold of the teenager but eventually lost out after the realisation that they couldn’t compete with the facilities Bayern had to offer. What softened the blow was the fact that Rostock still possessed his younger brother Felix, who the club had equally high hopes for. As it turned out, Felix didn’t progress as fast as Toni (which is probably why he still plays for them today) and Bayern were quickly considered to have the better brother.

Kroos’ first season with the Bayern youth side was a huge success and, following his Under-17 World Cup exploits, the impressive youngster was soon drafted into the club’s first team. Making his debut in the 5-0 mauling of Energie Cottbus in September 2008, Kroos wasted no time in showing off his talents. Just 18 minutes into his debut, the highly rated teenager had set up two goals for Miroslav Klose and was displaying the world-class passing ability and movement that had made him such a star in the summer. His UEFA Cup debut later that season was equally impressive. Coming on for the final nine minutes with Bayern trailing to Red Star Belgrade, Kroos set up an equaliser and scored the winner in another classy showing.

The following season saw Bayern try and enhance Kroos’ talents by sending him out on loan to give him more first-team games, having made just seven appearances before the winter break. Leverkusen agreed a deal to take the youngster in January until the end of the season and, although Leverkusen’s impressive early form began to falter, Kroos managed to excel in his 10 appearances. For that reason, Bayer 04 were quick to secure a season-long deal for 2009/10 in the hope that Kroos could help the club’s push for Europe. It has proved to be an inspired decision so far with Leverkusen making a flying start and Kroos enjoying his most productive season of his young career to date, scoring four goals in just 16 league appearances – sparking Leverkusen into attempting to make the move permanent.

Any hopes of a permanent deal have swiftly been quashed by Bayern President Uli Hoeness. After Leverkusen announced their intention to negotiate, Hoeness stated that Kroos would indeed return to Bayern at the end of the season and said: “In the future, Toni will be Bayern’s No 10.” Such a statement of confidence from Hoeness (who has often slated his own team) is a massive boost for Kroos’ long-term future and there is no reason why he can’t fulfil such promise. His game is perfect for the role, with an ever improving footballing brain, good movement and a silky touch being just a few of his many qualities. If he can keep up such outstanding form, then the shouts for international inclusion will keep getting louder, but for most, it’s a case of when he will represent Germany – not if.

Full Name – Toni Kroos
Club – FC Bayern (on loan at Leverkusen)
Age – 19 (January 4, 1990)
Nationality (Caps/goals) – German (0/0)
Previous clubs – Hansa Rostock
Position – Attacking-midfielder/Striker

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