Deniz Undav says he his hopeful of getting a call up to the Germany national team on the back of his impressive form for VfB Stuttgart this season.
The 27-year-old Brighton and Hove Albion loanee has hit nine Bundesliga goals in 15 outings so far this term, having struck up an impressive partnership with Serhou Guirassy in a swashbuckling Stuttgart side.
In this exclusive interview with bundesliga.com, Undav discusses his international ambitions, adapting to Guirassy's Africa Cup of Nations absence and how VfB can get back on track after losing their first two games of the new year.
... Stuttgart's disappointing start to 2024
"As a team, we're angry. We expected something different from ourselves. We lost the first two games in the new year, so we have to have a different reaction now in the next game, and hopefully we’ll get the win again. I think the winter break wasn't good for us. Now as a team we have to fight, help each other and get a great win so everybody will be in a good rhythm again."
Watch: All of Undav's 12 Bundesliga goals
... what's been missing this year
"In the first part of the season we had a lot of chances and we scored a few goals, not a lot, but we scored a few goals. Now we have less chances and we are not scoring any more. I think if we just scored our goals, we would have six points [in 2024], but in football you can’t always score goals. We have to keep going, fight for each other, have fun, and then it will come again."
"I think it’s the best time to change that. We have to show a reaction to the last few games, we just have to do our thing. It's our first home game of the year. We have to keep going, maybe score the first two chances we have, score one or two goals, and then it could be a different game. I hope we will get the win, and the first win for Stuttgart against Leipzig."
Watch: A tactical analysis of Stuttgart's game
... on his personal form
“Until the winter break, I was really happy. I’m not so satisfied anymore after the last two games, because I expected more from myself. Right now, as a team, we are struggling a bit. I have to keep going, doing thing, have fun again, smile more, and the goals will come. I didn’t expect to have nine goals after 15 matches, so of course I’m happy. I'd be lying if I said otherwise. I expected one or two goals from myself in the last two games, but it didn’t happen, so now I have to score on Saturday against Leipzig."
... on missing Guirassy
"When I play with him I know he is the target up front, so I can drop deeper and find him with passes people maybe don't expect from me. And I know if somebody out wide is going through, he will be in the box, so I can be around the box. It's different without him now. I have to stay up front more, I can't drop deep. I have to expect more balls from Enzo [Millot], or if I drop deep he has to go higher, or the wingers have to take more responsibility as well, because if a guy is not here with 17 goals, we have to do the job now. We have to do it as a team, because not one player can do it.
"Sehrou is doing really well right now, so as a team we have to compensate for him. I still try to play with the team, but I felt in the game we lost against Gladbach that I was dropping down too much, meaning we didn't really have anyone up front. I had to tell myself to stay more up front so that I could get on the end of any balls into the box. With Serhou, I know somebody is in the box. Without him, now maybe nobody is in the box, so I have to take the responsibility and do more now."
Watch: Stuttgart Strikeforce Analysis - Undav and Guirassy
... on the possibility of representing Germany at international level
"I hope that I will play for the national team. It’s not fixed yet. My decision, to be fair, was made for me. It was a little bit too late from Turkey’s side to call me. I expected maybe a little bit more from Turkey. When I came here, nothing happened, nobody called me. I had a phone conversation with Stefan Kurtz, but then he got sacked. So nothing happened, really.
"Then I got a phone call from the German national coach, it was very different. He told me what I’m doing really well, that he likes my performances, not even the goals but other things, like how I’m fighting, how I play, giving everything, showing effort. He said that I can choose which country to play for, but that he wants players who want to play for Germany.
"So I told him that it's my dream to play for the German national team, because I grew up here. I don't really have anything to do with the Turkish national team. I told him that my focus will be on Germany 100 percent, that it's my dream, that I'll do everything I can to play. And if I play, I will give everything I can, as always. He said: ‘OK’. So now we have to wait and see what happens until March. Maybe I will be in, but I have to perform as I normally do, and not like the last few games."
Watch: See why Undav was voted as Player of the Month in November 2023
...his strengths and weaknesses
"My build-up game. I'm intelligent in the game. I think I’m strong, really strong. It’s hard to get the ball away off me. I also have the vision to see my teammates. Everybody tells me to shoot more, but I’m always looking to find a better pass, to find a player in a better position. Those are three or four attributes I have in my game that I think are the best.
"What can I improve? Maybe to be more efficient, a little bit more efficient, and sometimes play a little bit faster with the ball. Not taking two or three touches, maybe one touch is enough."
Deniz Undav voted January's Player of the Month!
The Stuttgart striker has been rewarded for a goal-fuelled start to 2024 with his second Player of the Month award of the season.
Undav, Guirassy and a Stuttgart bromance
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