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Goal.com looks at 10 of the most promising young Germans abroad.

Germany's success at the 2010 World Cup confirmed the success of the DFB in its long-term plan of investing in youth development. After taking part in their country's third place finish, Bundesliga starlets Mesut Oezil, Sami Khedira and Jerome Boateng moved overseas. They were not the first, nor will they be the last crop of young Germans to head to Europe's other top leagues. Below, we take a look at 10 young Bundesliga products who have pursued careers abroad.

SPAIN
by Paul Macdonald

Mesut Oezil - Real Madrid
Date of birth: Oct. 15, 1988
Place of birth: Gelsenkirchen, Germany
Position: Central playmaker, either wing
Previous clubs: Werder Bremen, Schalke, Rot-Weiss Essen, Falke Gelsenkirchen, Teutonia Schalke-Nord, Westfalia 04 Gelsenkirchen
International level: Senior

Oezil's phenomenal World Cup display for die Mannschaft propelled the 22-year-old into the crossheirs of Jose Mourinho and Real Madrid, who swooped to secure the player on a €15 million deal from Werder Bremen. With the long-term absence of Kaka, Oezil has been given the opportunity to play a role in Los Blancos' inter-changing front quartet, and his technique, poise and concise passing endeared him to the Madridistas, who recognised his burgeoning talent immediately. His inability to complete 90 minutes remains a slight concern, with Mourinho often opting to replace him in the closing stages of matches, but he has settled into his stride at the capital giants, conveying a maturity and self-belief that has surpassed expectations.

Sami Khedira - Real Madrid
Date of birth: Apr. 4, 1987
Place of birth: Stuttgart, Germany
Position: Central midfielder
Previous clubs: Stuttgart, TV Oeffingen
International evel: Senior

In a similar fashion to his international compatriot Oezil, Khedira's rise to prominence on a global scale in South Africa convinced Real Madrid's arriving coach Jose Mourinho that he could be the central midfield partner to Xabi Alonso he had been searching for. His energy and drive proved to be popular with the Portuguese, establishing himself as an unsung hero in a team packed with more flamboyant individuals. Has had to compete with Lassana Diarra for a starting berth as the season has progressed, but has only failed to feature in two La Liga matches, and overall has proved to be a shrewd acquisition from Stuttgart.

ITALY
by Carlo Garganese

Alexander Merkel - Milan
Date of birth: Feb. 22, 1992
Place of birth: Pervomayskiy, Kazakhstan
Position: Central playmaker, either side winger
Previous clubs: Stuttgart, JSG Westerwald
International level: U-19

Merkel first gained attention during the Emirates Cup last August when he starred as a substitute in the 1-1 draw with Arsenal in London. Despite only turning 19 this month, and a mass of midfield competition, Merkel has been handed some opportunities to play and looks like a real potential star of the future. A complete midfielder who is equally comfortable going forward as he is going back, Merkel has great physical and technical attributes. He covers a lot of ground, moves from box-to-box, and is very comfortable in possession – with a good eye for a pass and some silky skills and close ball control. Merkel has impressed both in a midfield three and – in the Coppa Italia win over Sampdoria – as a trequartista ‘No. 10’ in the hole. He links up well with team-mates and seems very mature for his age. Definitely one to keep an eye on in the coming years.

UNITED KINGDOM
by Nick Price

Jerome Boateng - Manchester City
Date of birth: Sep. 3, 1988
Place of birth: Berlin, Germany
Position: Right back, left back, centre back
Previous clubs: Hamburg, Hertha Berlin, Tennis Borussia Berlin
International level: Senior

Unlike many of his other young compatriots, Boateng joined the Premier League as a household name back in his home country.

The versatile defender played in South Africa as Germany stormed to the semi-finals of the 2010 World Cup, but his time at City has been mixed, with an injury holding him back from making his debut until late September.

The former Hamburg man has averaged a disappointing 5.67 rating out of 10 in Goal.com's player ratings after 19 appearances in total.

Shkodran Mustafi - Everton
Date of birth: Apr. 17, 1992
Place of birth: Bad Hersfeld, Germany
Position: Centre-back
Previous clubs: Hamburg
International level: U-19

Joined Everton in 2009 from Hamburg as a 17-year old and immediately began working with the first team squad during pre-season training.

Spent most of last season in the reserves, but was named among the substitutes on several occasions and made a brief debut in the Europa League game with BATE Borisov in December 2009

Has yet to play since, but the centre-half has shown the potential to make it at the top having been part of Germany's successful under-17 European Championships side in 2009.

Loris Karius - Manchester City

Date of birth: Jun. 22, 1993
Place of birth: Biberach, Germany
Position: Goalkeeper
Previous clubs: Stuttgart
International level: U-17

Reached an agreement to join the moneybags of Manchester when he was just 15 in 2009. The shotstopper has represented Germany at both Under-16 and Under-17 levels.

Will surely have to be loaned out at some point in the future if he is to ever develop at City, who are unlikely to entrust a rookie with the gloves when Joe Hart, Shay Given, Stuart Taylor and Gunnar Nielsen are on the books.

Stephen Sama - Liverpool
Date of birth: Mar. 5, 1993
Place of birth: Cameroon
Position: Centre-back
Previous clubs: Dortmund
International level: U-17

The Cameroon-born Sama was snapped up by Liverpool from Borussia Dortmund in 2009, part of a glut of youngsters snared to Anfield by former boss Rafael Benitez.

The powerful centre-back has yet to play for the Merseyside club, but has been capped by Germany at under-17 level.

Sama may not have the brightest of futures, however, with Dortmund youth director Peter Wazinski telling Revierport at the time of his departure: "The transfer does not hurt us in any way."

Andis Shala - Dundee United
Date of birth: Nov. 15, 1988
Place of birth: Dakovica, Kosovo
Position: Striker
Previous clubs: Mannheim, Hannover
International level: (uncapped)

The 22-year-old Shala joined the SPL side after impressing then manager Craig Levein following a trial spell at the club.

Made his debut in 2008 and has since gone on to make 16 appearances, yet has netted just twice. One of those goals, however, was a memorable one as it came in a 3-3 draw at Rangers en route to Scottish Cup victory.

Has been watched by Albania, for whom he holds dual nationality, with a view to representing the Balkan nation.

NETHERLANDS
by Stefan Coerts

Thilo Leugers - Twente
Date of birth: Jan. 9, 1991
Place of birth: Lingen, Germany
Position: Left back, left midfielder
Previous clubs: Heidekraut-Andenvenne
International level: (uncapped)

The left footed midfielder joined the Twente youth academy at the age of 11 and made his official debut for the Tukkers earlier this season in the 1-0 away win over PSV. Leugers also took part in the Champions League games against Inter and Tottenham Hotspur. Although he used to play most of his games in midfield in the Twente youth, Leugers has looked pretty solid at left back in the few appearances he's made so far.

AUSTRIA
by Clark Whitney

Niclas Heimann - Red Bull Salzburg
Date of birth: Mar. 12, 1991
Place of birth: Engelskirchen, Germany
Position: Goalkeeper
Previous clubs: Chelsea, Leverkusen
International level: U-20

The 19-year-old goalkeeper impressed during his youth as a top goalkeeping prospect, and was scooped up by Chelsea in 2007. He was offered a contract extension at the English club, but declined it in favour of the opportunity to earn more first-team playing time elsewhere. Last summer, the 1.94-metre man moved to Salzburg, where has since competed with Gerhard Tremmel and Alexander Walke for playing time. He has yet to feature in the Austrian Bundesliga since his arrival, but is a Germany U-20 international and still has room for development.

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