Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has criticised modern German footballers for their inability to head the ball, hitting out at Mesut Özil, Andre Schurrle, and Marco Reus in particular, as reported by Goal.
The former Dortmund manager suggested the trio started life as strikers, but were forced to move further back due to their shortcomings. He claims the German game no longer teaches players to header, and it’s to their detriment.
“Now [in Germany], we have so many unbelievably skilled players and no one of these offensive players can make a header. It’s like we forgot it,” he said.
“Tall players, like Schurrle, Özil, Reus, they are all like six foot, a good size, for an offensive player. They were strikers and they thought ‘ah, okay, no header’, bam, ‘I need a little bit of space’, bam, position moves back.”
While there are plenty of German internationals who are more than capable of heading the ball, you can’t disagree with him about this particular trio. Mesut Özil shies away from a header whenever possible, usually backing into players and not even jumping. During his time at Chelsea Shurrle rarely challenged for aerial balls, and Reus is often seen attempting to use his feet to finish when he really should be using his head.
Even if the German system is failing to teach their players to head a ball properly, they’re clearly doing something right. You don’t win a World Cup through sheer luck, and Germany have been consistently strong for years. They haven’t always been the best, with the likes of Spain and France having their moments, but they’re always up there.
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All that said, you really expect professional footballers to at least be able to head a ball properly. Obviously many technically gifted players can rely on their other skills to get them through, but they still should have learnt how to head.