Sandro Wagner celebrated 19 goals in 2016 - more than any other German player. - © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA / Simon Hofmann
Sandro Wagner celebrated 19 goals in 2016 - more than any other German player. - © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA / Simon Hofmann
Bundesliga

Late-blooming Wagner stakes Germany call-up claim

At 29, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim forward Sandro Wagner is discovering some of the best form of his career and making a first cap for Germany look more probable than possible.

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Wagner is one of that most valuable breed of players always capable of scoring the goal that makes the difference. At 29, he is in the form of his life for the latest club in a nomadic career and still resolutely going his own way. An unusually candid and sometimes polarising figure, for Wagner matters of reputation essentially "boil down to how people judge me, which I don't bother about. I'm not interested in my image one way or the other."

Watch: Highlights of Hoffenheim's Wagner-inspired win over Köln on Matchday 13:

After swapping SV Darmstadt 98 for Hoffenheim over the summer, he made a point of personally introducing himself to every member of staff in the vicinity. "That kind of thing's important, I do it as a matter of course," said the Munich-born forward, who came up through the youth ranks with FC Bayern.

The rather less humble side of Wagner's nature expresses itself in comments such as, "I think for quite a while now, I've been the best German striker by some distance." If that comes across as arrogant, it actually has a solid basis in fact. No homegrown player can top Wagner's 19-goal Bundesliga tally for the calendar year 2016.

- © imago / Eibner

"He's playing well for Hoffenheim, so he could feasibly be an option for us." - Joachim Löw

He is still waiting for his first call-up to the senior national squad, although Germany coach Joachim Löw did recently comment, "He's a different kind of forward, obviously we've registered that. And he's playing well for Hoffenheim, so he could feasibly be an option for us."

An option which, as somewhat martially described by Wagner's Hoffenheim teammate Sebastian Rudy, is "awesome, having a tank like that on the frontline." Furthermore, "Sandro keeps pushing us, he doesn't take any nonsense. Someone like that can galvanise the whole team."