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Muller and Neuer out, Moukoko and Wirtz in: How will Germany line up at the 2026 World Cup?

9:00 AM WAT 03/12/2022
Germany World Cup 2026 GFX
After two successive group-stage exits, the four-time winners will now be looking to a new generation of players to take them forward.

The champions' curse was only meant to last for one World Cup! Germany thought they were done with embarrassment on the global stage after their groups-stage exit in 2018, but the football gods had other plans for Hansi Flick's team in Qatar.

Germany's loss to Japan in their opening game ultimately cost them this time around, and the 2014 winners have now backed that up by falling at the first hurdle in each of the next two tournaments.

Factor in their last-16 exit at Euro 2020, and it has not been a stellar run for German football, meaning there is immense pressure on Flick to restore one of the sport's most decorated international teams to their former glories, and quickly.

Germany, of course, are the hosts of the next European Championship in 2024, and so the clock is already ticking on making sure they are able to challenge for more silverware on home soil.

But what about the next World Cup? The likes of Manuel Neuer and Thomas Muller have surely graced the tournament for the final time, so how will the team look when the United States, Canada and Mexico host in three-and-a-half years' time?

GOAL has had a go at figuring it all out...

  • Marc-Andre ter Stegen Germany 2022

    GK: Marc-Andre ter Stegen

    He might seem like he is ageless at times, but there is next-to no chance that Manuel Neuer plays at a World Cup aged 40, and that should open the door for Ter Stegen to finally take over as Germany's No.1.

    The Barcelona goalkeeper has already been to three major tournaments as Neuer's primary back-up, but 2026 should allow him the chance to finally start on the global stage.

  • Ridle Baku Wolfsburg 2022-23

    RB: Ridle Baku

    Germany's lack of a quality right-back was clear in Qatar, with Hansi Flick generally using some of his more versatile centre-backs to fill the void.

    The need for a player like Baku, who has impressed for Wolfsburg over the past two-and-a-half seasons, to develop into a viable option is therefore clear.

    At 24, Baku already has four international caps to his name and has been linked with Bayern Munich in the past. The hope is that he can now kick on and become a regular for the national side.

  • Antonio Rudiger Germany 2022

    CB: Antonio Rudiger

    Rudiger has been playing for Germany since 2014, but he doesn't turn 30 until March and, therefore, has plenty of years left at the top of the game.

    Come 2026, the Real Madrid centre-back will likely be the leader of the team's defensive unit at what will be his third World Cup.

  • Nico Schlotterbeck Germany 2022

    CB: Nico Schlotterbeck

    One of the rising stars of German football, Schlotterbeck had a mixed first World Cup but, at 22, he has time on his side to learn the lessons he needs to become an elite defender.

    The Borussia Dortmund star is the favourite to start alongside Rudiger in three-and-a-half years' time, though he is not the only contender for the position.

    His club-mate Niklas Sule will be 31 in 2026, so should still find himself in contention, while Southampton youngster Armel Bella-Kotchap was also in the squad in Qatar and looks to have a promising future.

    Keep an eye out, too, for Bayern Munich teenager Tarek Buchmann. He's only 17, but is very highly-rated and shows great maturity for a player so young.

  • David Raum Germany 2022

    LB: David Raum

    Raum was Germany's starting left-back in Qatar, and he is the logical candidate to keep the jersey.

    The 24-year-old only joined RB Leipzig over the summer, but has since been linked with Real Madrid as he continues to catch the eye at both club and international level.

    If Raum isn't the man in 2026, then Luca Netz could come into consideration, with the 19-year-old still rated despite slipping down the pecking order at Borussia Monchengladbach this season.

  • Joshua Kimmich Germany 2022

    CM: Joshua Kimmich

    The prime candidate to be Germany's captain at the 2026 World Cup, it seems remarkable that Kimmich will only be 31 by the time the next edition rolls around given how long he has been at the top of the European game.

    One of world football's elite central midfielders, the Bayern Munich man is an absolute shoo-in to be on show in the United States, Canada and Mexico, fitness permitting.

  • Leon Goretzka Germany 2022

    CM: Leon Goretzka

    Goretzka and Kimmich were born just two days apart from one another (Goretzka is the older of the two), and so they profile as an ideal duo around whom a team can grow.

    That has certainly been the case at Bayern Munich, and Germany will hope it translates to the international arena, with Goretzka set to replace Ilkay Gundogan on a more permanent basis going forward.

  • Jamal Musiala Germany 2022

    RW: Jamal Musiala

    With Thomas Muller moving on, Germany's attack will look a bit different in 2026, with a number of young players who are comfortable playing in a variety of positions set to fill the roles behind the striker.

    One of those is the golden boy of German football, Musiala, who, at the age of 19, has been the best player in the Bundesliga so far this season and is a genuine world-class talent.

    He was Germany's best player in Qatar by some distance and by the next World Cup, we might be talking about Musiala as being one of the very best players on show for any country.

  • Florian Wirtz Bayer Leverkusen 2021-22

    AM: Florian Wirtz

    While Musiala got his chance to shine in Qatar, Wirtz had to watch on from home as he completes his recovery from the serious knee injury he suffered in March.

    The Bayer Leverkusen playmaker would surely have been in the squad this time around if not for that injury, and, at 19, he and Musiala are the players that the next generation of Germany internationals will be looking to to lead from the front.

  • Leroy Sane Germany 2022

    LW: Leroy Sane

    Right now, the final slot in the Germany attack of the future likely comes down to a battle between Bayern duo Sane and Serge Gnabry.

    We've gone for Sane, who is six months younger than his team-mate, but in truth either should be able to do a decent enough job in 2026, even if both will be in their early-30s by then.

    If Germany are looking for younger options, then Bayern academy starlets Arijon Ibrahimovic and Paul Wanner are both extremely promising, though Austria are fighting hard to convince Wanner to represent them.

  • Youssoufa Moukoko Germany 2022

    ST: Youssoufa Moukoko

    The youngest player at the 2022 World Cup, Moukoko has this season begun to show that he will be able to translate his ridiculous youth-team performances of recent years into success in the professional ranks.

    The Borussia Dortmund striker turned 18 on the opening day of the tournament in Qatar, and thus will still only be 21 by the next World Cup, but his talent level is such that he is the obvious pick to lead the line in 2026.

    Karim Adeyemi will also likely be in the mix, while Kai Havertz – seen by many as the poster boy of Germany's footballing future just a couple of years ago – should also be in contention around the time of his 27th birthday.