Führich, Undav, Mittelstädt, Anton: Who are VfB Stuttgart's Germany newcomers?


Chris Führich, Deniz Undav, Maximilian Mittelstädt and Waldemar Anton have been central to Stuttgart's Bundesliga success this season - could they now become key for Germany ahead of UEFA EURO 2024 this summer following their March call-ups to the national side?

bundesliga.com takes a closer look at the Stuttgart quartet who have clearly impressed Julian Nagelsmann this season.

Chris Führich

Führich has already made his Germany debut, featuring for nine minutes in October's victory over the USA in a friendly that marked Nagelsmann's debut in the national team dugout. Befitting a man with the determination to make it at the top level having been all but written off as a youngster for his frail physique, Führich has continued to press his claim to be so much more than a one-cap wonder.

"Very consistent" is how Stuttgart coach Sebastian Hoeneß described his productive winger following Führich's seventh goal of the campaign in the Matchday 25 defeat of Union Berlin that kept his club in the hunt for Champions League football next season. Hoeneß could also have added "and spectacular" given the quality of the strike. Führich sparked frenzied comparisons with Bayern Munich icon Arjen Robben after cutting in from the wing to send a shot arcing into the top corner.

Hoeneß did say, "We'll have to wait and see what happens with the national team, but I think he has just increased his chances [of a call-up] again." No one will be arguing with that with Führich having scored nearly as many Bundesliga goals this season as he had done in his first two top-flight campaigns with Stuttgart.

Watch: Führich on target in 2-0 win over Union

Not bad for a player who had just 95 Bundesliga minutes to his name - from the 2017/18 season while at Cologne - before the 2021/22 season that followed the prolific 12-month spell in Bundesliga 2 he enjoyed at Paderborn.

With the chance to represent his country coming in his mid-20s, Führich is not the kind to let it slip, and he shrugged off speculation of a move by extending his contract with Stuttgart through to 2028 in February.

"I feel really good here in Stuttgart," said Führich. "The club, our fans and the stadium are something else. There's real tradition, and you can feel that in every home and away game. It's really a lot of fun to play for this team. I have a really good feeling, and I am looking forward to everything that is coming up."

Maximilian Mittelstädt

While Führich's connection with Serhou Guirassy and Enzo Millot has super-charged Stuttgart's season, it is the left-winger's link with the man behind him that has provided him with the platform to produce.

Like Führich, Mittelstädt's form this campaign has come out of the blue. You could even say out of the blue and white - given his former association with Hertha Berlin, whom he joined in his early teens and made his first-team debut for aged just 18.

At 19, Maximilian Mittelstaedt was awarded a bronze Fritz-Walter-Medal while at Hertha Berlin. - Mika Volkmann

His Fritz Walter bronze medal - the annual awards given to Germany's most promising players - in 2016 suggested he had talent, but in 145 Bundesliga appearances for Hertha, he did not always deliver. Since his summer 2023 arrival in Stuttgart, he certainly has.

He has already doubled his Bundesliga career goals tally with his two strikes this term, while his three assists have him closing in on his best single-season total of five set in the 2021/22 campaign.

The Berlin-born full-back, who has played five times for Germany's U21, can put his finger on the reasons for his improvement. If he is the man behind Führich's form, it is a good woman - and Swabian hospitality - behind his.

"I have to say I really felt at home straight away. I was very warmly welcomed by everyone, be that the club, the team or the fans. That did me a lot of good," said Mittelstädt, who is making a one-man assault on the cliché that people from the German capital don't mix well with those in the south west.

"It didn't take me long to find a flat and I have met a very nice, beautiful woman here, and that's going well and gives me a lot of energy. All of that means that I feel really good here and it gives me a lot of energy, which I think you can see on the pitch."

Watch: On MD21, Mittelstädt scored for the second game in succession

Waldemar Anton

Asked to explain Stuttgart's success, Mittelstädt highlighted the team's attacking potential, but noted that "at the back, we have defenders who all defend." One of those defenders is Anton.

The Stuttgart captain is another who has been around for some time before really hitting the top notes of his career in south-west Germany.

Named captain of Hannover as a 22-year-old by André Breitenreiter, Anton was reportedly relieved to pass on the armband when Thomas Doll took over as coach. Now 27, there is no question of him relinquishing his leadership role at Stuttgart. It was a thigh problem that forced him onto the substitutes' bench for the game against Union, ending a run of 63 successive Bundesliga starts.

A U21 EURO winner with Germany in 2019, Anton ensures everyone keeps their heads even while they are grabbing the headlines. "In the end, we should be angry about the fact that it wasn't bigger," was his reaction to the 2-1 scoreline in the win over Borussia Dortmund in November that stamped Stuttgart's credentials as a serious challenger.

The message is clear: no one takes a day off. After Nagelsmann selected Anton for his squad, the Stuttgart captain won't be getting one during the March international break.

Deniz Undav

This is becoming a familiar story at Stuttgart: player looks promising as a youth footballer, fails to deliver on that potential, journeys around clubs, has a breakthrough season… you get the idea. Like many of his teammates, including strike partner Guirassy, Undav fits that bill perfectly.

Watch: Undav voted January's Player of the Month

Werder Bremen are the club nursing regrets at Undav's sensational current form: they had him when he was a teenager after he joined them aged 11. After they released him in 2012, Undav bobbed about the German football backwaters with Havelse, Eintracht Braunschweig and SV Meppen. 

It was not until a 2020 move to Belgian outfit Union Saint-Gilloise - with Undav already 24 years old - that his career sparked into success at a high level. Like Führich at Paderborn, it was simply the right fit, and Undav splattered 45 goals across 70 appearances to catch the eye of English Premier League team Brighton and Hove Albion. Though that move has not yet worked out - it still might as he is only on loan at Stuttgart for the 2023/24 season - his temporary sojourn in Swabia certainly has.

His 14 goals this season, including a first Bundesliga hat-trick in the Matchday 19 swatting aside of RB Leipzig, are only bettered by three players league-wide, one of whom is Guirassy.

Watch: Undav's hat-trick against Leipzig

Along with Augsburg's Ermedin Demirović, he is the highest-scoring German-born player. But unlike the Bosnia-Herzegovina international forward, Undav is not going to play for the country of his family's heritage. His heritage may be Turkish, but his heart is German.

"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," said Undav, relating a telephone conversation with Nagelsmann earlier this season. "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 between now and March." Clearly Nagelsmann has been watching closely.