Frans Krätzig is currently the best German left-back in world football. While it might seem a bit early to make this call given that the Bayern Munich youngster only has a few Bundesliga appearances and not a single senior international cap, Germany also has a lack of established quality in the position.
Germany has struggled with the left-back position for a number of years now. Even when they won the World Cup in 2014, it was Benedikt Höwedes, a center-back by trade, who was deployed on the left flank. Since then Germany has had a number of players fill the role, but no one has really made it their own. The two players who stand as Krätzig’s biggest competitors for the position are RB Leipzig’s David Raum and Union Berlin’s Robin Gosens.
Raum is not good enough for where the German national team should want to be. His most recent season for Leipzig was generally disappointing, as the wingback only managed to register two assists — a low number for someone whose best attribute is crossing. Raum has the ability to take a corner kick, but Germany already has Joshua Kimmich and Leroy Sané to perform that role. Kimmich has come under scrutiny for his corner kicks, but from a statistical standpoint is better than he is often given credit for. Raum is not particularly good in buildup, and he lacks defensive stability and concentration.
Robin Gosens is a very good player as a wingback in a back three/five formation. Where Gosens does not excel is as a left-back in a back four formation, which after some experimentation, seems to be what Germany is set to use moving forward. Gosens can bomb down the flank and is good in attacking phases, but similarly to Raum, is not responsible enough defensively and lacks the Alphonso Davies-like pace required to make up for those deficits.
Krätzig doesn’t have any in-depth stats at a high level that can be analyzed due to the small amount of game time he has seen, but during preseason matches and his substitute appearances in the DFB Pokal and Bundesliga, he has looked very sharp. Krätzig has shown that he works hard defensively and is reliable enough on the ball to not make silly mistakes. While the U-20 Germany international doesn’t have exceptional pace, his passing and link-up play with his Bayern teammates is already very good. His maturity shows through his active communication and involvement in play, which is at a level higher than one would expect for a young player.
So, what do you think about this take? Am I getting too far ahead of myself after a few good performances from the player, or will Raum’s good start to the current season prove to be my undoing? Let me know in the comments below, and feel free to share your own hot takes!