Bundesliga: ÖFB target Paul Wanner: The further development of Mesut Özil

On Friday, Paul Wanner was a surprise in the squad nominated by Ralf Rangnick for Austria’s “training course for perspective players”. The 16-year-old is one of FC Bayern’s greatest talents and actually plays in the DFB U18 team.

After the national team’s international training course, team boss Ralf Rangnick is gathering Austrian talents for a course for perspective players in Pula, Croatia, as the ÖFB reported on Friday. There Rangnick wants to get an impression of young talents like Yusuf Demir (Galatasaray), Dijon Kameri (Red Bull Salzburg) or Moritz Wels (Sturm Graz).

Surprisingly there: Paul Wanner from FC Bayern. The 16-year-old has already played two Champions League games for Munich this season and has been on the ÖFB’s radar for a long time. Wanner was born in Dornbirn and has Austrian and German citizenship. He is currently running for Germany’s U18 national team.

ÖFB sports director Peter Schöttel made his interest in Wanner public in February. “We became aware of Paul Wanner last late summer. The initial contact with Paul’s management took place through Oliver Lederer, who, as the responsible team leader for the 2005 vintage, expressed the ÖFB’s great interest in Paul. I’m also in contact with Paul’s environment , we know his exact situation,” said Schöttel at the time laola1.

Schöttel continued: “He grew up in Germany and the DFB is very interested in him playing for Germany. But of course he’s also an extremely interesting player for us, the dynamics of his development surprised everyone.”

At that time, the chances of the ÖFB were assessed as low. “I know that Paul has big goals, that he wants to win everything with Bayern and also want to become world champion,” said Schöttel, adding: “Paul is having a lot going on at the moment as a young player. For me, it’s all about doing things seriously . But I have to do my job.” Now the attacking midfielder surprisingly takes part in the Austrian “training course for perspective players”.

Paul Wanner: Youngest player in Bayern history

Wanner’s Bundesliga debut at the age of 16 years and 15 days made him the youngest player in the history of FC Bayern Munich – and coincidence helped a lot: Wanner was specially signed for the match against Borussia Mönchengladbach ( 1: 2) flown in because the Munich squad had been severely thinned out by many corona cases.

Wanner showed why he was substituted on against Mönchengladbach when he made his first contact with the ball: he received a ball from Benjamin Pavard on the right flank, controlled it and immediately started dribbling against two seasoned Bundesliga players – successfully.

Wanner didn’t just swim with him, he gave the impression of being able to revive the tired Bavarians. He actively offered himself, demanded balls and even initiated an attack that Thomas Müller and Robert Lewandowski almost used to equalize 2-2.

A scene that demonstrated his various qualities: First he conquered the ball in pressing, but then he remained calm, let Manu Kone pass a Gladbacher and then played a well-dosed pass deep down at the right moment. This speed of action also impressed his coach with the U17 national team. “He has a very tight and dynamic ball control, with which he can completely change game situations,” said coach Marc-Patrick Meister at the time SPOX and GOAL.

Bayern talent Paul Wanner: Mesut Özil’s successor?

“He can do everything below,” analyzed Julian Nagelsmann after the Gladbach game, referring to Wanner’s footballing qualities. On the very next matchday against 1. FC Köln (4-0) he rewarded him with another brief appearance and the teenager also gained match practice as a joker against Hertha BSC (4-1). The ability to decisively influence the course of the game with just a few touches of the ball brings back memories of Mesut Özil, who was always a controversial subject in Germany.

What is undisputed, however, is that Özil not only created many goals, but also created many great opportunities with phenomenal passes and dribbles. In this area, Wanner resembles the former international. If he gets the ball, immediately turns it in the right direction and then makes a good decision within a few fractions of a second, his movements are quite similar to Özil. Above all, the speed of thought combined with the clean execution of the movement sequences is a parallel.

Wanner has already played 15 games for the U17s and U18s at the DFB, in which he contributed four goals. Meister is particularly enthusiastic about the courage of the young offensive player. The courage with which Wanner immediately played with the pros as if it were a normal U19 game on the FC Bayern Munich campus.

Peters: “I saw a lot of talent that didn’t make it”

“Paul is a very agile offensive player who has played in all offensive positions in midfield,” said Coach Meister. That could also help him a lot at Bayern. Because the 16-year-old actually has his greatest strengths in the centre. Wanner feels comfortable in the tenth position or in the half-spaces. There he can initiate attacks and, if necessary, pull himself from the depths into the penalty area.

However, the fact that he can also play on the flank increases the likelihood that he will make the lasting leap into the professional squad despite great competition. But a lot still has to happen for this to happen. One person who is particularly knowledgeable about developing talent is Bernhard Peters. In 2006, at the request of Jürgen Klinsmann, Peters was to become sports director at the DFB and thus become part of the great reformation of German football. In hockey, he had made a name for himself both as a youth coach and in the men’s field, where he became world champion several times.

His perspective was and is still very much in demand in football. Even if things didn’t work out with the DFB in 2006, he worked for the association in an advisory capacity in preparation for the 2008 European Championship. He also worked for Hamburger SV and TSG Hoffenheim, where he is considered the discoverer of Julian Nagelsmann.

to SPOX and GOAL Peters said: “It’s a very, very long way from talent to top player. I’ve seen a lot of talent that still had a lot to develop.” Peters refers primarily to personality development. Many young players who excelled in the U16 and U18 divisions did not make it “because they did not have the will to work on themselves to get to the next level.”

Wanner extended Bayern contract until 2027

His U17 coach at the time at the DFB also knows that the 16-year-old will not always be uphill on this path and that there is quite a lot to come: It is clear “that players of this age can deal with things in a very short time are confronted with that others have more time to understand.” Dealing with the partly new framework conditions is not so easy.

His contract in Munich runs until the summer of 2027. Wanner canceled Borussia Dortmund before the summer and was rewarded with Champions League appearances. Under Nagelsmann he played 20 minutes away against Viktoria Pilsen and 14 minutes at home against Inter Milan and replaced Mathys Tel (17 years, 139 days) as the youngest FCB player in Champions League history at the age of 16 years and 293 days.

Now not only Wanner’s great talent is being discussed, but also the question: Which nation will be awarded the contract? Germany or Austria?

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