Max Kruse, Nadiem Amiri, Maximilian Arnold, Florian Müller and Jordan Torunarigha will go into the 2021/22 Bundesliga season as Olympic gold medalists, if Germany have their way in Tokyo. bundesliga.com has the lowdown on five players set to play a starring role for Stefan Kuntz's side at the rescheduled Summer Games...
Club: Union Berlin
Position: Second striker
Senior/ youth caps: 14/ 24
It's approaching six years since Kruse last pulled on a Germany shirt - a scoring effort in a UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying win against Georgia. The caps may have dried up for the 14-time Germany international, but the goals have continued to flow at club level. With a direct hand in 16 of them for Union Berlin in 2020/21, the cerebral left-footer reached double figures for combined goals and assists for the ninth successive season - despite missing two months through injury.
"Max might not have a six-pack, but he doesn't doze on the job either," said Union legend Union legend Torsten Mattuschka in the early part of last season. "He works an unbelievable amount for the team. Even if he runs a few kilometres less than his teammates, what's important is that he makes the right runs. The players listen to him and want to play with him. He scores goals and makes goals, and improves everyone around him."
Watch: Max Kruse fired Union Berlin into Europe on the final day of 2020/21
Did you know?
Kruse is a regular at the World Series Poker tables in Las Vegas. He finished third in the 2014 edition, pocketing $36,494, and fourth three years later.
Club: Bayer Leverkusen
Position: Attacking midfielder
Senior/ youth caps: 5/ 51
Kruse was busy firing Borussia Mönchengladbach into the UEFA Champions League when Amiri made his Bundesliga debut for Hoffenheim in February 2015. A U19 Bundesliga winner with the club, he duly became a first-team staple, before lifting European U21 Championship gold for Germany in 2017. The fleet-footed attacker claimed a runners-up medal two years later, scoring twice in the semi-final win over Romania. Since moving to Bayer Leverkusen that summer, he's swelled his Bundesliga tally to 14 goals and 24 assists in 165 appearances, whilst earning five senior caps.
"Nadiem is a special player, because he has come through the TSG academy and calmly matured into a young professional of exceptional talent," said Julian Nagelsmann, Amiri’s former coach in the Hoffenheim U19s and seniors. "When he finds the balance between emotion and discipline, he's a serious player. He's not the finished article yet, either."
Watch: Nadiem Amiri's audacious January 2021 Goal of the Month winner
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Amiri was born in Ludwigshafen to parents who has fled war-torn Afghanistan in the 1980s. He regularly helps out with the Red Cross to provide support for refugees to Germany.
Position: Central midfielder
Senior/ youth caps: 1/ 49
Arnold is the third overage player in Kuntz's Olympics squad, and was also part of the team that won the U21 Euros in 2017. Had he not been born into a generation that has produced some of the finest central midfielders in the history of the Germany national team, the Wolfsburg general's success at youth level would surely have translated onto the senior circuit. That said, the 27-year-old still ranks as one of the Bundesliga's most reliable operators - and is the proud owner of one of the best left foots in the business.
"Hopefully I have a good seven or eight years ahead of me," Arnold told bundesliga.com recently. "We'll have to see, I'll have to really take care of my body. I'm just happy. That dream of being a professional footballer that I had back then, watching Sportschau... to be able to live that and then here in Wolfsburg, a club that will play in the Champions League again next season, it's really special."
Watch: Skip to 01:21 for a Maxi Arnold special
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Arnold has been on the Wolfsburg books since 2009. He is nine games shy of a club-record 260th Bundesliga appearance, and needs 38 to break Olaf Ansorge's 347-match record in all competitions.
Club: VfB Stuttgart
Senior/ youth caps: -/ 11
There aren't many with the necessary reactions to foil an Arnold rocket, but Florian Müller is one of them. The Germany youth international had a big say in Mainz's successful survival bid in 2014/15, most notably marking his Bundesliga debut by saving all six shots faced, including a Filip Kostic penalty, in a relegation six-pointer with Hamburg. He spent the 2020/21 season on loan at Freiburg, getting his 6'3" frame behind a league-high 71.9 percent of efforts on his goal. Who better to replace Borussia Dortmund-bound Gregor Kobel at VfB Stuttgart?
"Florian Müller has made great strides in recent years," Stuttgart sporting director Sven Mislintat said after Müller penned a four-year deal at the Mercedes-Benz Arena, "His ability, character and mentality make him a perfect signing. At 23, Florian has already played in 73 Bundesliga games, gained important experience at Mainz and Freiburg, and has the desire to keep improving."
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Club: Hertha Berlin
Senior/ youth caps: -/ 20
Football does run in the Torunarigha family, but only Jordan has played in the Bundesliga. His father, Ojokojo, represented Chemnitz in the 1990s, while older brother, Junior, turned out for the likes of Jena and Aachen. Indeed, all 74 of the younger Torunarigha's appearances as a professional have fallen in the German top flight, DFB Cup or UEFA Europa League. But for a raft of injury set-backs since debuting for Hertha at 19, the defender likened to Berlin-born Jerome Boateng - albeit a left-footed version - may well have got his shot at the Germany national team sooner.
"Jordan reminds me of Jerome Boateng," commented Hertha head coach Pal Dardai, having observed Torunarigha climb the club's youth ranks, before handing him his big break midway through the 2016/17 Bundesliga campaign. "He's a real competitor, you can always count on him in the big games. He was like that when he was younger. He's still a bit rough around the edges, but has a big future ahead of him."
Did you know?
Taking a leaf out of Joshua Kimmich's schoolbook, Torunarigha successfully juggled his football and studies. He ended his breakout season with a high-school diploma, to go with his May 2017 Bundesliga Rookie of the Month award.