bcame to Leipzig on his business trip Toni Kroos Inevitably closer to a debate that has been troubling German football for weeks on the way to the European Championship at home and in which he is at the center. Should the Real Madrid midfielder return to the German national team? Is it possible that he wants to do it? Like an “interesting thought.” National coach Julian Nagelsmann celebrated the return of the 34-year-old in December at the ZDF “Sportstudio” and thus left the door open to speculation about Kroos.

Kroos himself leaves all options open: in the first team of the German Football Federation (DFB) and also in Real. “I'm still thinking about it, I haven't made a decision yet,” said Kroos and skillfully and meaningfully deflected questions about the DFB team: “There is a possibility.”

After 106 international matches Kroos will retire from the DFB in 2021. But even in the autumn of his career, the Greifswald native is one of the pillars of Real's team. “Toni is irreplaceable, even when he doesn't play,” the coach recently enthused. carlo anceloti over Mecklenburg. Before the match against Leipzig, the star coach said: “He is always the best. He already had the same passing precision ten years ago at FC Bayern. What sets him apart now is that he plays on a team that plays with enormous energy, so his strengths stand out even more.”

“Let it surprise you”

They also know that in the DFB. Kroos “remains a world-class player” who still shows that he is “capable of great things, powerful things,” said the DFB sporting director. Rudi Völler I only know. And Kroos, at least as the “Bild” newspaper learned at the end of last year, could definitely imagine returning to the national team. Maybe already for the international matches in March in France and against the Netherlands? “Let it surprise you. We still have a little time,” coach Nagelsmann said recently in the Nations League draw in Paris.

Midfielder Kroos' strategist no longer has to prove anything to anyone. He is the only German player to have won the Champions League five times, four with Real and once with Real Madrid. FC Bayern Munich. The 2014 world champion is considered an icon for the Royals. And yet, the European Championship in his own country could be another attractive tournament in the autumn of his career.

The legend of coach Ancelotti considers his precision, his calm, his control and his charisma “unique”. Kroos is a haven of calm, an important point of orientation, especially for the young stars of Jude Bellingham, Rodrygo and Vinícius Júnior. He even surprises himself: “My head surprises me more than my body.” And yet, Kroos sometimes gives the impression that he does not feel valued enough in Germany and is misunderstood as a “side Toni”. A successful mission at the European Championship to help in the sporting crisis could change that.

But opinions differ on this question. “That would be a sign from the Titanic,” said the Bayern skipper Uli Hoeness about a possible return of Kroos. The veteran is “an exceptional footballer, but I don't think he can save German football,” Hoeneß continued. Joti Chatzialexiou, former head of the DFB national teams, even spoke on “t-online” of a “declaration of poverty for German football.”

However, some national players on the team can imagine Kroos returning. “I am always happy to play with Toni. If he feels like it and has the time, he will be happy to do it,” said Bayern professional Joshua Kimmich. His true colleague Antonio Rüdiger is probably the strongest supporter of a Kroos nomination. “And if I can speak frankly and honestly, I think a lot of people think the same as me,” the 30-year-old told Kicker before his guest appearance in Leipzig.

Despite all the admiration, former team boss Völler is not entirely convinced of the need for Kroos to return. In the center of the field, his shoe “doesn't press as much.” The DFB team has many good players.

National record holder Lothar Matthäus is also very skeptical. “Where should I play?” If you bring Kroos back, you automatically weaken Ilkay Gündogan, even as captain,” warned the 1990 World Cup captain. Kroos will not harmonize with either Gündogan or Kimmich in the midfield. For Matthäus, “a clear no” is the answer to Kroos' question. But Julian Nagelsmann and Toni Kroos themselves have the last word.