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The new Neuer? Germany U21s goalkeeper Nubel following in the footsteps of Bayern Munich No.1

6:00 pm AEST 30/6/19
Manuel Neuer Alexander Nubel Germany
Schalke are hoping to convince the 22-year-old goalkeeper to sign a new contract but his performances in Italy are attracting interest from elsewhere

"I can still walk through Gelsenkirchen without being approached," Alexander Nubel told Goal on Friday. "My life hasn't changed during the last couple of months."

Things could be a little different, though, when he goes home next week.

Nubel could return to Gelsenkirchen as a European Under-21 Championship winner.

Exactly 10 years after Manuel Neuer established himself as one of the most promising goalkeepers in the world by helping Germany win the title in Sweden, Nubel is now poised to follow suit, this time in Italy.

Neuer conceded just one goal during his country's triumph in 2009. Nubel has been beaten five times during Germany's run to the final - but only once from open play, with the other four goals coming from penalties.

They certainly wouldn't have made it this far without him.

With the reigning champions reeling after falling 2-1 down to Romania in the semi-finals, Nubel pulled off the save of the tournament so far, producing a breath-taking reaction stop to prevent George Puscas from completing his hat-trick just before the break.

It was a pivotal moment in a crazy game, as Germany came roaring back in the second half to win 4-2, thanks to late goals from Luca Waldschmidt and Nadiem Amiri.

Nubel hasn't just impressed with his reflexes either. He has also been exceptional with the ball at his feet.

Ahead of Sunday's final against Spain, he has made more successful passes than any other goalkeeper (92) at the Under-21 Euros and has the best passing accuracy (84.4 per cent).

Not that those who have followed Nubel's career or played alongside him are surprised.

"Alex was always better with his feet than many of our outfield players," revealed former Paderborn team-mate Eric Kroll.

"When you had Alex on your team, that was half the job done – you knew you could always pass the ball to him."

Indeed, the 22-year-old actually played as a striker for Paderborn up until the age of 14 before being first converted into a defensive midfielder, and then a goalkeeper.

Even then, though, Paderborn weren't entirely sure where Nubel was best played and, in some youth team games, he would play one half up front and the other in between the sticks.

However, head coach Andre Breitenreiter and goalkeeping coach Simon Henzler knew that they had a prodigiously gifted, very modern shot-stopper on their hands.

So, when they moved to Schalke in the summer of 2015, they took Nubel with them.

He made his professional bow in May of the following year and this season usurped club captain and hometown hero Ralf Fahrmann as the senior side's first-choice No.1.

Given he has made his breakthrough at Schalke, the comparisons with Neuer have come thick and fast.

Not that they are anything new. Nubel was even nicknamed 'Manuel' by his former team-mates at Paderborn.

The similarities are certainly obvious and Neuer himself has admitted that he has been impressed by Nubel's form for club and country.

Speculation is now mounting that Bayern Munich are considering an offer for Neuer's heir, particularly as he has just one year left on his contract at Schalke.

Uli Hoeness has kept tight-lipped, insisting that it will be up to sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic to decide but the Bavarians will certainly be tempted to make their move now, given RB Leipzig and Atletico Madrid are said to have joined the race for Nubel's services.

Nubel is given nothing away at this point: "We have an important game on Sunday, and I do not know what comes next."

He's clearly keen to maintain his low profile. Unfortunately for him, though, his days of anonymity are drawing rapidly to an end.

As Fahrmann recently declared, "Alex is one of the most talented up-and-coming goalkeepers Germany has ever had. He might not be under the spotlight much yet, but he will be soon – I can promise you that."