Hansi Flick has ended weeks of speculation over his Bayern Munich future by confirming he wishes to leave the club at the end of this season.

After taking over from Niko Kovac in November 2019, the 56-year-old led the Bavarians to a Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League treble in his first campaign in charge.

He added a UEFA Super Cup, DFL-Supercup and the Club World Cup this term, with another top-flight title also looking likely after Bayern opened up a seven-point lead on Saturday.

However, it has recently been reported that Flick was considering his future and, speaking after a 3-2 win over Wolfsburg, the German coach revealed he will depart at the end of the season.

That means one of the biggest jobs in European football is about to become available - so who is in the running to step into the role?

Julian Nagelsmann

One of the most well-regarded young coaches in Europe, Julian Nagelsmann has long been admired by the decision-makers at Bayern Munich.

With speculation mounting over Flick earlier this week, the 33-year-old was forced to deny that discussions with the Bavarians had already begun.

"There have been no talks and we are currently in no talks," he said.

It has been previously reported that RB Leipzig would demand €15-20m to release their head coach from his contract.

But Bayern could well view that as a snip for a manager who has long been touted for the top job in German football and has previously attracted interest from Real Madrid.

Jurgen Klopp

The last manager to deny Bayern the Bundesliga title, Jurgen Klopp is another man who Die Roten have made no secret of their desire to appoint one day.

Despite his ties with Borussia Dortmund, the 53-year-old has never publicly declared that he would not make the move to Munich at some point in his career.

He has, however, recently signalled his intention to see out the remainder of his contract at Liverpool.

Amid links to the soon-to-be-vacant Germany job, Klopp said: "You sign a contract and you normally try to stick to that contract, don't you?"

Ralf Rangnick

Schalke, Eintracht Frankfurt, the German national team - nobody seems to know where Ralf Rangnick might go next. 

Out of work since leaving a role with Red Bull last year, the German's appointment would not require any costly negotiations with a rival.

And, while he might represent a slightly left-field choice to be the new Bayern boss, nobody can doubt his coaching credentials.

So many of the managers the Munich club covet have been influenced by Rangnick, so why not go for the original?

Joachim Low

Flick's imminent availability comes amid strong links with the role of head coach for the German national team.

That vacancy has come up as a result of Joachim Low revealing that he will bring a 15-year stint in the job to a close after the European Championship.

So, could the 61-year-old take on his first job in club management since he took charge of Austria Wien for the 2003-04 season?

Low's only trophy in German football came when he led Stuttgart to the DFB-Pokal in 1997, but his CV is certainly enhanced by that World Cup win in 2014.

Miroslav Klose

Having enjoyed remarkable success since Flick stepped up from his role as assistant to Kovac, Bayern could choose to go down a similar route following his departure by appointing Miroslav Klose.

The Germany legend moved up from his role as U17s coach over the summer to become second in command for the first team and might be a surprise choice for another promotion at the end of the season.

The 42-year-old is popular with supporters, though his lack of experience might count against him given the quality of the other candidates.

Still, if Bayern value continuity above all else in their search for a Flick replacement, don't count Klose out.

Leon Goretzka insists Germany's players are to blame for their shock defeat to North Macedonia and not under-fire head coach Joachim Low.

Germany lost 2-1 on Wednesday to the side ranked 52 places below them in the FIFA rankings – their first World Cup qualifying defeat since September 2011, a run spanning 35 games.

The loss was Die Mannschaft's second in four competitive matches, having also been thrashed 6-0 by Spain in November's Nations League clash.

Low recently announced he will quit his role with the national side after the rescheduled Euro 2020, though Germany's poor form – just five wins in their last 11 matches – has led to calls for a change before the tournament.

But Goretzka, who started all three of Germany's March qualifiers, has absolved the long-serving head coach of any blame for the latest calamitous loss, which leaves Germany third in Group J.

"We players are to blame for the defeat and no one else," he told ZDF. "We felt a touch of euphoria in the country after beating Iceland and Romania. 

"We have just got to tell ourselves now that it is behind us. You have to see that the scaffolding is becoming even more stable. In any case, that is primarily the job of the players."

Goretzka marked his return to club duty on Saturday with the winning goal in Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich's 1-0 win over closest challengers RB Leipzig.

He has been a key player once again for Bayern this term, featuring 28 times in all competitions, 21 of those appearances coming in the Bundesliga.

The midfielder's drilled finish against Leipzig from a Thomas Muller cutback was his fifth Bundesliga goal in 2020-21, adding to five assists – only Muller (25) and Robert Lewandowski (41) have been directly involved in more for Bayern in the league this season.

Goretzka also leads the way among Bayern midfielders in the Bundesliga for recoveries per 90 minutes (8.98) and is behind only Javi Martinez (2.57) for interceptions, with 2.27 a game on average.

Bayern are reportedly eager to agree fresh terms with Goretzka on a new contract, with his current deal set to expire at the end of next season, and the 26-year-old has indicated he is ready to commit to the club.

"I feel very comfortable here," he said. "Bayern has helped me a lot in the last few years to take the next step in my career. That is why the tendency is clearly towards Bayern."

Germany head coach Joachim Low was left "bitter" after the country's shock loss at home to North Macedonia in World Cup qualifying.

Low's Germany were sensationally humbled in Duisburg, where the four-time world champions suffered a 2-1 defeat on Wednesday.

Ilkay Gundogan had cancelled out Goran Pandev's opener before Eljif Elmas restored North Macedonia's lead with five minutes remaining as Germany lost a World Cup qualifier for the first time since September 2001 – a run of 35 matches.

The defeat left Germany third in Group J, level on points with North Macedonia and three points adrift of pacesetters Armenia, who have won all three matches so far.

"We are hugely disappointed after this bitter defeat tonight," Low, who will vacate his post following the rescheduled Euro 2020, told reporters. "We did not manage to find our way into the game like we did in the last two games.

"We had some good approaches but this was a real setback. As a first analysis, there are a couple of reasons for that. We were lacking pace and fast passing, we ran a lot with the ball and had many passing errors while moving forward. We did not find any appropriate means against the deep positioned North Macedonians.

"We also ran into many counterattacks due to passing errors and bad positioning. We did not have any access to our opponent when they were in the box during these counter attacks.

"We were equally staffed against the opponent during both goals. So positioning in the box was bad. But we also missed many chances in the first half and didn't punish them. We had a chance to go in front where it was two against one with Ilkay and Timo Werner.

"You had the feeling that this missed chance broke the team mentally. We tried it but we couldn't play as we usually managed to. We just weren't able to win this game today."

Germany head coach Joachim Low has batted away talk of "world-class" Toni Kroos retiring from international football after this year's European Championship.

Real Madrid midfielder Kroos withdrew from the Germany squad at the start of last week, ahead of their opening World Cup qualifying fixtures.

Low's side claimed maximum points from their first two Group J games against Iceland and Romania and will expect to make it a hat-trick of triumphs when North Macedonia visit Duisburg on Wednesday.

Kroos is Die Mannschaft's most-capped active player – and joint 10th overall – having featured 101 times since his Germany debut in 2010.

His last appearance was in November's humiliating 6-0 Nations League defeat to Spain, although he did emerge with some credit.

Kroos enjoyed a pass completion rate of 97.7 per cent – the highest of any starting player across both sides – while no German starter lost possession fewer times than him (four).

Reports have circulated recently that 31-year-old Kroos is ready to call time on his international career after the rearranged Euro 2020 finals, but Low is not ready to write off the midfielder just yet.

"It's a media issue," Low told a media conference. "Toni is a world-class player with an enormous wealth of experience. We won't start to doubt his quality now."

Low also hailed the "step forward" made by Leroy Sane over the past week.

The Bayern Munich forward made three key passes against Romania – matched only by Serge Gnabry for Germany – and won 11 of his 12 duels.

Low was particularly impressed with the 25-year-old's defensive contributions.

"In the last two games Leroy had extremely good moments in defence," Low said. "He won four or five balls against Romania and some against Iceland.

"You haven't seen that before. He made a clear step forward."

Germany are red-hot favourites to progress to Qatar 2022 as Group J winners, but Low has warned his players against complacency when they host North Macedonia.

"I have the feeling that North Macedonia have rolled up their sleeves", said Low, who will step down from his position at the end of Euro 2020. "They are no worse than Romania. It will be a real show of strength.

"We're not taking anything for granted. North Macedonia are shrewd opponents. It will be another tricky task to come away with all three points."

Germany head coach Joachim Low bemoaned his side's wastefulness in front of goal during their slender 1-0 World Cup qualifying win against Romania on Sunday.

Serge Gnabry scored the only goal of the game in the 16th minute, with the Bayern Munich forward, Leroy Sane and Timo Werner going on to squander opportunities to extend Die Mannschaft's advantage.

That almost came back to haunt Germany in the closing stages as the hosts went close through George Puscas and Nicolae Stanciu. 

Germany – the 2014 world champions – ultimately held on, though, to follow up Thursday's opening Group J win over Iceland with another three points. 

Low was largely pleased with Germany's display, but acknowledged they should have added to Gnabry's early goal.

"Romania were definitely the better team than Iceland in terms of football," he said. "We worked very well against the ball today and won some battles. 

"We could have made the game easier for ourselves if we had made it 2-0. If there's something to complain about, it's the big opportunities.

"The goalkeeper saved very well several times, but we could have been ice cold and more concentrated in front of goal.

"When the opponent has nothing more to lose, they throw everything forward. We had several chances in which we could have finished more cleanly, but we have three points."

Germany made just one substitution before stoppage time – Werner replacing Kai Havertz in the 77th minute – and Low said he stuck with his starting XI for so long as the game was under control. 

"It's important to get used to it," he added. "But I didn't switch because the game was under control for a long time. 

"We were doing well, the midfield did a good job. The opponent had no chances for a long time, so it wasn't absolutely necessary for a long time."

Joshua Kimmich, who struck the crossbar in the first half with a deflected half-volley, agreed with Low's assessment that Germany made life unnecessarily difficult for themselves. 

The Bayern Munich midfielder said: "We could have made it easier for ourselves. We were lucky that Romania didn't equalise in the 90th minute; that would've been karma for us not scoring again.

"We have to score earlier then we will have a quieter evening. I think we largely controlled the game, but still we didn't manage to decide it earlier."

Germany will be looking to make it three wins from three Group J games when they host North Macedonia on Wednesday. 

Germany head coach Joachim Low admits he is not completely satisfied with his side with just three months to go until the delayed European Championship finals.

Die Mannschaft cruised to a 3-0 win over Iceland in their opening World Cup 2022 qualifier on Thursday through goals from Leon Goretzka, Kai Havertz and Ilkay Gundogan.

It was a welcome win for Low's men, coming on the back of a 6-0 hammering against Spain in their final match of a poor 2020 that saw them win only three of their eight games.

Germany had 81.5 per cent of the ball, attempted 1,053 passes and had 15 shots compared to Iceland's eight, but Low feels there is plenty of room for improvement.

"I wasn't exactly full of praise for the whole game," he said at a news conference on Saturday previewing the trip to Romania.

"We could have done better in the second half in particular. If we look to the Euros, we have to improve in a few areas. 

"It was a good start and we had a lot of well implemented play. But I'm not yet completely satisfied."

Without the influential Toni Kroos, who withdrew from the squad with a knock, Germany's midfield three of Gundogan, Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich impressed against Iceland.

Jamal Musiala made his debut as a second-half substitute in Duisburg, while Borussia Monchengladbach's highly-rated Florian Neuhaus was also introduced for his fourth cap.

But Low insists Kroos, who remains a regular for Real Madrid, is still integral to his plans.

"The midfield set the tone against Iceland, everyone in their own way. I'm happy about that. But Kroos is a player with immense value to us," said Low, who will end his 15-year tenure after Euro 2020.

"Our strength at major tournaments has been players coming off the bench. We have good players in midfield - any team who wants to achieve something needs that."

Germany's win over Iceland was their 17th in a row in World Cup qualifying, setting a new record and placing them top of Group J ahead of Sunday's trip to Romania.

Niklas Sule has been ruled out of both that match and Wednesday's visit of North Macedonia, while Robin Gosens is also out and Goretzka and Leroy Sane are carrying knocks.

Low does not intend to make many changes ​for the showdown at the National Arena as Germany seek back-to-back competitive wins for the first time since November 2019.

"I'm going to wait until tomorrow to see how things develop with Leon," Low said. "He is the first option in midfield and I hope he can play from the start.

"If he doesn't then it is possible to let Musiala play, or move Serge Gnabry deeper and bring in Timo Werner. Our usual defensive line will start."

Romania kicked off their qualifying campaign with a 3-2 home win against North Macedonia to make it four games without defeat, scoring 12 goals across those fixtures.

And Low expects to face an attack-minded side in Bucharest.

"They have great strengths on the attack and act much more aggressively than Iceland," he said. "We will face completely different challenges.

"I've seen Romania one time or another and we have a lot of information on them. 

"They have technically well-trained players who want the ball. They don't want to defend so much, but they want to play forward. I think Romania's central midfield is very good."

Barcelona legend Xavi has endorsed "luxury coach" Joachim Low for the Barcelona job once he steps down as Germany boss later this year.

Low announced earlier this month that he will leave his role with the national side after the delayed European Championship finals, which are scheduled to begin in June.

The 61-year-old has been in charge since 2006 and guided his country to World Cup success in 2014, as well as winning the Confederations Cup three years later.

He revealed earlier this week he has been learning Spanish, only strengthening rumours he is in contention to take over at either Real Madrid or Barcelona at some point.

And Xavi, who is also regularly linked to the head coach position at former club Barca, believes Low would be a good fit at Camp Nou.

"He is a luxury coach," Xavi told Suddeutsche Zeitung. "He wants sparkle and attacking football, and he is a world champion.

"Low has helped Germany develop a different understanding of football that reminds me a lot of what I know from Spain and Barcelona."

Asked more specifically why Low would suit Barcelona, Xavi said: "Because of his way of understanding the game. And because of his personality."

Low's contract with the German Football Association was originally due to run until the 2022 World Cup, but he requested to leave his position early on the back of a disappointing 2020.

Germany won only three of their eight matches last year, which culminated in a 6-0 Nations League loss to Spain - their heaviest defeat since losing to Austria in a friendly in 1931 by the same scoreline.

Xavi, who was overtaken by Lionel Messi last week in the list of all-time appearances for Barcelona, feels it is the natural time for Low to seek pastures new. 

"With such a period of time, wear and tear is inevitable," he added. "That might be the case now."

Germany's youthful side were in slick form against Iceland but outgoing head coach Joachim Low expects more from their next two World Cup qualifiers.

Iceland proved no match for Low's side on Thursday, with early goals from Leon Goretzka and Kai Havertz paving the way for a comfortable triumph before Ilkay Gundogan rounded out a 3-0 success.

Led by the imperious Joshua Kimmich, Germany dominated throughout.

They had 81.5 per cent possession, attempted 1,053 passes – at an accuracy of 92.3 per cent – and had 15 shots compared to Iceland's eight, with Manuel Neuer only called into action twice.

From his position at the base of midfield, versatile Bayern Munich star Kimmich controlled proceedings, tallying up 176 touches, 150 successful passes and a team-high three crosses, one of which should have resulted in a goal for Antonio Rudiger.

Only Gundogan (four) played more key passes than Kimmich, who was integral to Germany's first two goals, playing sublime balls into Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane as the hosts took a 2-0 lead by the seventh minute – the first time they have led by two goals that early in a competitive fixture since May 1969.

It marked a 17th successive win for Germany in World Cup qualifiers, a new team record.

But Low was not entirely pleased with Germany's display, telling RTL: "In the second half, we played too many passes backwards and missed some moments to trigger momentum and pick up speed.

"I see opportunities for improvement in our game. What made us strong in the first half – a lot of movement without the ball, a lot of deep runs – that wasn't quite the case in the second half.

"We have to see that we keep up the pace and can last for over 90 minutes. That will be important at the Euros."

Despite Low's concerns, Germany did much of their passing in Iceland's half.

Indeed, only Havertz (31), Gnabry and Lukas Klostermann (both 28) among the hosts' outfield starters attempted fewer passes in Iceland's half than Aron Gunnarsson – who led the distribution metrics for the visitors – managed in all areas of the field (33, only 22 of which were successful).

Low, who is departing after the Euros, has received criticism in some quarters following a difficult 2020, and for his decision to ostracise 2014 World Cup winners Thomas Muller, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng.

The 61-year-old has hinted the door could be open for the trio to return at the rearranged tournament, though for now he is sticking with youth, handing Jamal Musiala – who would also have been eligible for England – his debut late on.

Aged 18 years and 27 days, the Bayern attacker is the youngest Germany player since Uwe Seeler in October 1954.

"For the most part, I'm satisfied," Low said.

"We started very energetically and dynamically, we wanted to set an example. The team has the right attitude right from the start."

Germany made a comfortable start to their World Cup qualifying campaign as early goals from Leon Goretzka and Kai Havertz paved the way for a 3-0 win over Iceland.

News of Joachim Low's upcoming departure after the Euros dominated the build-up to Germany's Group J opener, though a vibrant performance proved the quality the outgoing boss has at his disposal heading into his final tournament.

Goretzka and Havertz had Germany 2-0 up after just seven minutes – the quickest Die Mannschaft have been two goals ahead in a competitive match since May 1969, when Gerd Muller and Wolfang Overath struck against Cyprus.

In-form Ilkay Gundogan arrowed in his 13th goal of 2021 for club and country midway through the second half, wrapping up a convincing triumph.

A 6-0 defeat to Spain rounded off a frustrating 2020 for Germany, but they made a fantastic start to 2021. Iceland had only touched the ball twice by the time Goretzka drilled home the opener from the centre of the area – Serge Gnabry having cushioned Joshua Kimmich's lofted pass into the midfielder's path.

Kimmich was the architect of Germany's second goal five minutes later with a wonderful throughball to release Leroy Sane, who squared for Havertz to finish coolly.

Germany's lead seemed set to be halved when Runar Mar Sigurjonsson's shot took a wicked deflection off Antonio Rudiger but the ball dropped inches wide.

Kimmich should have had an assist to his name prior to half-time, only for Rudiger to head wide from the midfielder's inch-perfect cross.

Aron Gunnarsson could have done better with a free header shortly after the interval, and any lingering Iceland hopes were swiftly dashed when Gundogan found the bottom-left corner.

Havertz had a goal disallowed for offside and Gnabry hit the post after latching onto another sublime Kimmich pass, but there was no further punishment for new Iceland coach Arnar Vidarsson.

Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos has withdrawn from the Germany squad for their upcoming fixtures because of an adductor injury.

The 31-year-old linked up with his national side on Monday for the World Cup qualifiers with Iceland, Romania and North Macedonia.

However, Germany confirmed on Tuesday that Kroos has returned to Madrid as a precautionary measure and will play no part in any of their games over the next eight days.

"Our medical department has examined and treated Toni intensively," said head coach Joachim Low, who will step down from his position at the end of the rescheduled Euro 2020 tournament.

"He would have liked to stay with us, and I am reluctant to be without him. But with a view to the Euros, we decided that the full recovery from this injury must be a priority."

Kroos earned his 100th cap for Germany in October's 3-3 draw with Switzerland and has featured 35 times in all competitions for Madrid this season.

He previously missed two games earlier this season with a gluteal injury, seeing him play no part in the league wins over Real Valladolid and Levante.

Germany are also without Niklas Sule and Robin Gosens for Thursday's clash with Iceland in Duisburg, the pair unavailable with thigh and muscular problems respectively.

The build-up to the match has been dominated by talk of who will succeed Low as the next Germany head coach, but Manuel Neuer insists it will be business as usual on the field.

"We had a short team meeting and are concentrating on our tasks," he said. "We have to be well prepared for the European Championship and will use every game to do that.

"We cannot make any more mistakes. We have a strong group, against some strong opponents, so every game is a final from the start.

"Of course now we want to crown this era with a success. The coach deserves that to end with a success after the successful years.

"He is is very motivated and ambitious. It's not that he thinks he's going to retire. He's enthusiastic. He wants to quit as national coach as successfully as possible."

Under-21s boss Stefan Kuntz is among the frontrunners to replace Low, who has been at the helm since 2006 and guided his country to World Cup success in 2014.

Ralf Rangnick and Hansi Flick, who manages Neuer at club level with Bayern, are also in the running, while Jurgen Klopp and Julian Nagelsmann have distanced themselves.

Asked about the candidates for one of the top jobs in football, Neuer said: "A national coach must have experience and must have done one or the other in German football. 

"He should know the Bundesliga. It's not about what we think, but about the goals that we have in front of us."

Erling Haaland is one of the most sought-after players in Europe.

Europe's elite are lining up to sign the Borussia Dortmund sensation.

Barcelona are reportedly prepared to go all out as Haaland grows frustrated in Germany.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND EYES DORTMUND EXIT

Erling Haaland has notified his agent that he wants to leave Borussia Dortmund if they fail to qualify for the Champions League, according to Diario AS.

Haaland is a player in demand following his exploits for Dortmund, heavily linked with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Liverpool and Juventus.

Dortmund – through to the 2020-21 quarter-finals – sit outside the Champions League places this season, fifth in the Bundesliga.

Haaland has reportedly given Dortmund an ultimatum should they miss out on Champions League football.

It comes as Sport claims Barca have started to try and raise funds in their pursuit of the Norway international, with the LaLiga giants willing to let two strikers leave.

 

ROUND-UP

- Bild says Germany boss Joachim Low is a candidate for the Real Madrid job should Zinedine Zidane ever leave. Low is set to vacate his post after the reschedule Euro 2020. Telefoot, however, insists Zidane has no intention of leaving ahead of the 2021-22 season.

Liverpool are unaware of Georginio Wijnaldum's reported pre-contract agreement with Barca, claims the Liverpool Echo. Wijnaldum is out of contract at season's end and the Dutchman has been tipped to join Barca.

- United are ready to listen to offers for forward Anthony Martial, claims The Touchline Talk. It comes as the Red Devils seek to sign Haaland.

- Fiorentina are asking €40million for forward Dusan Vlahovic amid links with Milan, reports Calciomercato.

- According to The Transfer Window Podcast, Liverpool are set to rival Arsenal in the race to sign Celtic forward Odsonne Edouard.

PSG are still tracking out-of-favour Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli as the Ligue 1 champions also eye Lazio star Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, reports Calciomercato.

Teenagers Jamal Musiala and Florian Wirtz have been called up to Germany's senior squad for the first time, but there is still no place for Thomas Muller, Mats Hummels or Jerome Boateng. 

Musiala, 18, pledged his allegiance to Germany last month having previously represented England at every level from Under-15 to Under-21. 

The versatile attacker played in the Chelsea academy from 2011 until 2019 before opting to move back to Germany, where the Stuttgart-born youngster has since made quite the impression at Bayern Munich. 

He has made 18 Bundesliga appearances this term – only four players who are younger than him (18 years, 21 days) have played in more matches across the top five European leagues this term. 

One of those is Wirtz, who has shown immense promise at Bayer Leverkusen since making his debut shortly after his 17th birthday in May last year. 

With four goals and as many assists in 21 Bundesliga games, Wirtz – a technically gifted attacking midfielder – is one of only two players under the age of 20 (along with Arnaud Kalimuendo) across the top European leagues to be involved in eight league goals. 

Similarly, across those same leagues, Adil Aouchiche (46) is the only individual yet to turn 20 with more key passes than Wirtz's tally of 37.

Joachim Low, who earlier this month confirmed he will leave his post later this year, is urging both players to relax despite the added pressures that come with international recognition. 

"We are excited to get to know Jamal Musiala and Florian Wirtz even better," he told the German Football Association (DFB). "They earned the nomination with their recent good performances. 

"But especially with such young players, our responsibility is to be careful with them and lead them step by step to the highest level. 

"Both have huge potential, and I am sure that we will have a lot of fun with them in the next few years, but at the moment it is important not to rush into anything, they should take it easy and develop carefree. I think the next few days will be a good experience for Jamal and Florian." 

Amin Younes, who has been impressing with Eintracht Frankfurt this term, has earned his first call-up since October 2017, while Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Emre Can, Lukas Klostermann and Kai Havertz all return after missing the November internationals, which included a 6-0 humiliation by Spain. 

However, there is still no recall for Bayern duo Muller and Boateng, nor Borussia Dortmund centre-back Hummels. 

All three World Cup winners were cast aside by Low in March last year as he looked to refresh the squad in the wake of the 2018 World Cup failure. 

Earlier this month, Low did not rule out potentially bringing them back into the fold given their solid form at club level, yet he has ignored them again on this occasion as Germany begin their World Cup qualification campaign with games against Iceland, Romania and North Macedonia.

Joachim Low has dropped a heavy hint that Jamal Musiala and Florian Wirtz will earn their maiden Germany call-ups for this month's World Cup qualifiers.

Musiala has enjoyed a breakthrough campaign at Bayern Munich and last month the 18-year-old attacking midfielder pledged his allegiance to Germany, having also represented England at youth level.

Having become the youngest goalscorer in Bundesliga history when he netted for Bayer Leverkusen in June last year, Wirtz has scored seven times in 30 appearances across all competitions this season.

His participation in Germany's games against Iceland, Romania and North Macedonia will depend upon him recovering from a positive coronavirus test at the start of this month, but Low is keen to involve both highly rated youngsters.

"I think it is safe to say already that both players are in our plans," he told ntv.

"[It will be] good that I can see them for a few days with us, [to see how] they appear in our group."

Low will step down after Euro 2020 after 15 years at the helm.

The 2014 World Cup winner believes the overhaul of Germany's football system – ultimately leading an environment for the likes of Wirtz and Musiala to develop and thrive in – is the achievement he will look back upon most fondly.

"The greatest achievement was the development over the entire period," he said.

"Our football had technical and tactical problems. We've gotten a lot better when it comes to football culture and play, and that makes me very happy."

Wirtz and Musiala's addition could bolster a Germany squad without Premier League stars such as Ilkay Gundogan, Timo Werner and Kai Havertz.

Quarantine requirements for travellers from the United Kingdom to Germany could hinder the capacity for players from England's top-flight to play a full part in the international break.

Regulations in Romania, where Germany have an away game, are more lenient, but Low said naming a different squad for different games "is not the solution we want".

Hansi Flick is the ideal candidate to succeed Joachim Low as Germany's next head coach, according to Lothar Matthaus.

Low announced on Tuesday he will step down from his role with the national team after the Euro 2020 finals, having been in charge for the past 15 years.

Bayern Munich's Flick was installed as one of the early favourites to take over from Low, whom he previously worked alongside as assistant head coach for eight years.

Flick masterminded a magnificent Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League treble last season, which Bayern have added to with the Club World Cup, UEFA Super Cup and DFL-Supercup this season.

The 56-year-old appeared to rule himself out of the running earlier this week as he remains under contract at the Allianz Arena until 2023.

But Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge will leave his role at the end of the year and Matthaus has urged the DFB to move for Flick should he become available.

"He's a person of harmony, but he has to feel good," Matthaus told Sky Sport Germany. "If he no longer feels comfortable at Bayern, he will tell his bosses and then he will be the ideal candidate for the national team."

Jurgen Klopp and Julian Nagelsmann, in charge of Liverpool and RB Leipzig respectively, have also distanced themselves from one of the top positions in international football.

Meanwhile, Matthaus previously stated he had no interest in leading the country he represented 150 times as a player, but he has now changed his stance.

"The DFB has to think about what it wants. Pros and cons are weighed up against each candidate," he said.

"I'm someone who likes to help. If I had the feeling that those responsible were united behind the decision, I would start to think about it."

Germany Under-21s coach Stefan Kuntz and former Leipzig boss Ralf Rangnick have also been linked with the position, though the latter is reported to be in talks with Schalke over the possibility of returning to the club as sporting director.

Germany head coach Joachim Low has insisted no final decision has been made on possible recalls for Bayern Munich forward Thomas Muller and Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels.

The experienced pair have not played for their country since being told by Low in March 2019 that they, along with Jerome Boateng, had no future with the national team.

Low's decision to focus on younger talent has not always paid dividends, though, and last November's 6-0 demolition by Spain prompted loud calls from the likes of Mesut Ozil to bring those senior players back into the fold.

A report in Kicker claimed Muller and Hummels are set to be handed places in Low's Euro 2020 squad, which will be his last major tournament in charge before he steps down after 15 years in the role.

While insisting he has made no promises over either player's future, Low did admit the impact of the coronavirus pandemic could mean his planned "upheaval" of the team may have to be put on hold.

"I neither opened nor closed the door," he said when asked about Muller and Hummels' possible return.

"I said that, under normal circumstances, you shouldn't interrupt a radical change. We have the pandemic situation, and perhaps you can consider: should I interrupt the upheaval [of the squad] for a tournament?"

Muller, 31, has played 100 times for Germany since making his debut in 2010 and, like Hummels – who has 70 caps – he was part of the squad that won the World Cup in 2014.

Muller's club form in the past two years, particularly during Bayern's treble triumph in 2019-20, has led to a clamour for his return to the national team.

Since the start of last season, as well as scoring 27 goals in all competitions, he has provided 37 assists, the most of any player in Europe's top-five leagues apart from Kevin De Bruyne (38).

Only two Bundesliga players – Erling Haaland (65) and Robert Lewandowski (109) – have had more direct goal involvements than Muller in that time.

Speaking of a possible Germany comeback, he said: "I feel comfortable in the [Bayern] team. Standing on the pitch with the boys is fun, and there are a lot of national team players on the pitch.

"I feel like chasing titles in the summer. We will see if it is the end for me after the Champions League final or whether I will play for the national team. I'm definitely ready."

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