Julian Nagelsmann has a decision to make over who leads the line for Germany at this year's European Championship. - © DFL
Julian Nagelsmann has a decision to make over who leads the line for Germany at this year's European Championship. - © DFL
bundesliga

Niclas Füllkrug, Deniz Undav and Germany's options at No.9 ahead of UEFA Euro 2024

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Who will be Germany's centre-forward at UEFA Euro 2024 next summer? Niclas Füllkrug is in pole position to lead the line, but Julian Nagelsmann has other options at number 9 - bundesliga.com takes a look at the men in the running to make the tournament host's squad...

Find out more about Euro 2024 in Germany here!

Data correct as of 4 February 2024

Niclas Füllkrug (Borussia Dortmund)
Caps/ Goals: 13/ 10

With his missing tooth, bantamweight boxer build, and more bustle than New York's Fifth Avenue on Christmas Eve, Füllkrug is an old-school centre-forward. It is fair to say the Borussia Dortmund man is not cut from the same refined cloth as Gerd Müller and Miroslav Klose.

But his ability to lead the line and batter opposing defenders into a dazed state that gives Germany's brilliant support strikers - Jamal Musiala, Leroy Sané, Serge Gnabry, Florian Wirtz et al - the space in which to weave their magic makes him invaluable for club and country right now.

"Niclas is desperate to play for Borussia Dortmund," said BVB's sporting director Sebastian Kehl, before explaining exactly what Nagelsmann and so many other coaches see in him. "We're delighted to have such a positive guy, who will give absolutely everything for our club."

Watch: Niclas Füllkrug scored a hat-trick against Bochum on Matchday 19

And he offers so much more than just bulldozing opponents into submission.

A rich seam of goalscoring form has come late to Füllkrug, who turns 31 in February, but his 25 strikes in his last 48 league games for Werder Bremen and Dortmund, whom he joined in summer 2023 after finishing the Bundesliga's joint-top scorer in 2022/23, is nothing short of impressive. As is his current international strike rate.

In fact, it's way more than impressive, and he's showing exactly why Hansi Flick gave him his debut in November 2022, just three months shy of his 30th birthday, making him the oldest Germany debutant in 20 years. He then played at the World Cup in Qatar, noting emotionally - and factually - that "it has been a long road" to get to the top. In fact, he might still be going up.

Füllkrug scored twice in three appearances as Hansi Flick's Germany exited the 2022 World Cup at the group stage. - Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Thomas Müller (Bayern Munich)
Caps/goals: 126/45

A 2014 FIFA World Cup winner, Müller is a legend. That iconic mantle is usually reserved for players that are ageing or even retired. Müller is the former at 34, and will surely soon be the latter. But Nagelsmann will have to size up how important the weight of the Bayern man's 14 years in a Germany shirt is when it comes to picking his team, and perhaps Müller is just the wise old head the national team needs leading the line.

Nagelsmann (l.) knows Thomas Müller (r.) well from his time as Bayern Munich head coach. - IMAGO/Bernd Feil/M.i.S./IMAGO/MIS

Despite his wiry build, he has the physique and the wiles to hold up the ball as well as hold off all but the most muscular of centre-backs, while does anyone need proof of his ability to bring teammates into play? You do? OK, he's got 40 assists to go with his 45 international goals. That's 85 goal involvements at the very highest level in 126 games. That's a goal involvement in every game-and-a-half for Germany with the fourth-most caps of all time for one of the game's most dominant nations. Happy now? Thought so.

He and Nagelsmann do have a certain history following their time at Bayern when Nagelsmann seemed to suggest that, despite making Müller captain in the absence of Manuel Neuer, his time on the pitch should be limited, dragging him off early in a number of games, painfully pricking his veteran forward's competitive pride. Thomas Tuchel appears to share his predecessor's view, naming Müller only intermittently in the starting line-up. That said, Nagelsmann surely cannot afford to leave Müller plotting a long summer holiday for what will likely be his last major international tournament, and he has the advantage of being able to play as a second striker too.

Watch: Thomas Müller - the unrivalled Raumdeuter

Deniz Undav (VfB Stuttgart)
Caps/Goals: 0/0

Another late starter in the goalscoring stakes. Or was he simply never really given a chance to show what he could do at the highest level? Undav will turn 28 in July, potentially after playing at the Euros for Germany, and after what will have been his maiden Bundesliga season. Prolific in the lower reaches of German football, it was a free transfer to Belgium and Union Saint-Gilloise in summer 2020 that kickstarted his career.

His 17 goals in 26 second-tier outings were a major reason his team won promotion in his very first season, and he then netted 25 in just 33 for the first team in the top flight the next campaign. Little wonder Premier League side Brighton got interested then.

He struck just five times in 22 top-flight appearances in England last term, though his goals-to-minutes ratio of finding the net every 123 minutes on the pitch suggests what he is capable of. In fact, only five players in Premier League history have ever scored five goals in less time on the pitch than Undav.

Sebastian Hoeneß has unlocked that potential spectacularly at Stuttgart - the uncapped forward has 13 goals to show for his first 17 Bundesliga appearances in 2023/24 - and Nagelsmann has already hinted Undav is on his 'Euro 2024 potential selection' radar.

Watch: All of Deniz Undav's Bundesliga goals so far

Can he maintain his current form? If he does, he will surely be bleeping loud and clear on that radar, but there is an 'if', because he has so far failed to do that in his career. His total lack of international experience - he has never played for Germany at any level - also counts against him.

He could decide he wants to represent Turkey - the country where his family hail from - at international level instead, though he did recently tell bundesliga.com, "My dream is to play for Germany at the Euros."

Watch: Undav - shooting for Euro 2024

Youssoufa Moukoko (Borussia Dortmund)
Caps/Goals: 2/0

Moukoko is one for the future, that's for sure. But is he one for next summer as far as Nagelsmann is concerned? At 19, Euro 2024 might come too early for the Dortmund forward, who has not yet managed to convince club boss Edin Terzić he should be starting ahead of Füllkrug, never mind his nation's man in charge. Tellingly, Nagelsmann has yet to call Moukoko into the senior squad - he won his two senior caps to date under Flick, including one appearance at the 2022 World Cup.

What Nagelsmann will have noted is how the pair linked up as a front two in Dortmund's Matchday 19 win over Bochum in which Füllkrug scored a hat-trick (albeit two of them coming after Moukoko had been replaced). There is no doubt the youngster's vivacity is an asset, though surely it would best serve Nagelsmann coming off the bench. He has a tremendous goals-to-games record at U21 level too, with nine in 11 caps, and as he says himself, he has already been the surprise selection for a major international tournament.

Watch: The best of Youssoufa Moukoko

"Anyone who has ever played for the senior national team has that [playing at the Euros] in the back of their mind. I always score the goals here because I get a full 90 minutes," he said of the U21s. "It’s very good for me to get the rhythm. I’m happy to come here every time, there’s always a smile here. Nobody expected me to be there at the World Cup either. Let’s see."

Marvin Ducksch (Werder Bremen)
Caps/Goals: 2/0

Ducksch got rather forgotten in the frenzy around Füllkrug last season, but his 12 goals and seven assists as an ever-present in the Bremen side would surely have earned him more headlines out of his strike partner's shadow at another club.

It marked a significant upgrade on his Bundesliga career prior to that. Now 29, Ducksch had once been like Moukoko: a teenage prodigy at Dortmund. He made his first-team and top-flight debut in the 2013/14 season for BVB, and then scored his first Bundesliga goal in nine appearances on loan at Paderborn the following campaign.

But he was then forced to drop down a level, and did not return to the Bundesliga until he managed a solitary goal in 16 games for Fortuna Düsseldorf in the 2018/19 season before disappearing again. He finally started to exploit his teenage potential when he joined Bremen from Hannover early in the 2021/22 season, and plundered 20 goals and 10 assists in just 29 Bundesliga 2 matches.

Füllkrug and Marvin Ducksch (l-r.) combined to fire Werder Bremen back to the Bundesliga and keep them there in 2023. - IMAGO / Kirchner-Media

His first full Bundesliga campaign was a rampant success too, and his 2023/24 season has started with a bang too, with Ducksch well on course to beat his goals and assists tallies of last term.

Nagelsmann has certainly taken notice, handing him a long-awaited (and surely unexpected) senior international debut at the age of 29 - he turns 30 in March - during Germany's disappointing November international window.

"He's very good from set pieces and is a good finisher," explained Nagelsmann of the decision to call Ducksch up. "He knows Fülle [Füllkrug] very well - that could help us. He's got that unpredictability factor and can be a real asset, especially as a substitute."

Ducksch played just 21 minutes as Nagelsmann's side were beaten by Turkey and Austria - he will surely be given more opportunities to prove his worth in the run-up to the tournament. Will it be enough?

Watch: Marvin Ducksch produced four goals and three assists across the first 10 matchdays of 2023/24

Honorable mentions

Kevin Behrens earned a call-up for the October 2023 friendlies against the USA and Mexico on the back of excellent early-season form, but is currently 16 matches without a goal, having struck four times across the first two matchdays of the season.

The emergence of 22-year-old Benedict Hollerbach at Union must have played a role in Behrens' decision to join Wolfsburg in January, the two-time Germany U18 striker scoring three goals in five since mid-November.

Five-goal Germany U21 forward Maximilian Beier is another potential wild card. He's Hoffenheim's joint-leading marksman in 2023/24, with seven Bundesliga goals.

Or could Timo Werner return to the international fold? The fleet-footed forward has 57 caps for Germany and a more than decent return of 24 goals, but has struggled so far this season for fitness and form, scoring just twice from 14 appearances for RB Leipzig. As a result, he's been loaned out to Tottenham Hotspur for the remainder of the campaign. Could a late-season surge earn him a place at these home Euros?

Find out how Julian Nagelsmann's Germany could line up at Euro 2024!