Tom Bischof: Germany's 'new Gotze' who Nagelsmann is desperate for Bayern Munich to sign

GOAL

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As German football builds towards a renaissance following the disappointment of their last two major tournaments, there is hope that a lost position within the team could be on its way back.

When Joachim Low's team won the 2014 World Cup, Mesut Ozil and Mario Gotze were key figures, playing as different kinds of No.10s as Die Mannschaft triumphed in Brazil.

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And while Thomas Muller is still around and thriving, the skilful dribbling of Ozil and the diminutive creative spark provided by Gotze have disappeared from the national team.

The recent Under-17 European Championship, however, revealed some new faces who could fill those voids over the next decade.

In Paul Wanner – the youngest player to ever represent Bayern Munich – Germany have a player capable of individual brilliance much like Ozil, with the 16-year-old's tall, slender frame similar to that of the ex-Arsenal star.

And playing alongside Wanner during the tournament in Israel was Tom Bischof, himself a record-breaker at Hoffenheim having become the youngest player in the club's history when he made his Bundesliga debut in March.

Standing at just 5'9 (176 centimetres) and with impressive attacking instincts, 16-year-old Bischof has been likened to Gotze for a number of years as German fans have watched him, Wanner and the rest of the country's hugely-talented 2005-born generation come through the ranks.

And though they came up short at the Euros, losing on penalties in the quarter-finals to eventual champions France, big things are expected of Bischof.

"He has a lot of creativity, a really good left foot and highlights the joys of playing football," Marc-Patrick Meister, the Germany U17s manager, tells GOAL and SPOX.

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"Playing as a No.10, Tom is someone who speeds up the game, especially through his passing.

"Paul [Wanner] is the much more expansive player, who has very tight ball control and dribbles at speed. He brings a lot of dynamism into the game with the ball at his feet.

"Tom, though, brings dynamism with his through-balls or by finding space to dictate play in the final third."

Playmaking from the No.10 role is no longer enough, however, with the modern game having largely done away with the position in favour of wide forwards, either in a 4-3-3 or 3-4-3, providing most of the creativity.

Bischof, though, has plenty more to his game. He can score goals as well as he can create them, netting eight times to go with his seven assists for Hoffenheim U19s in 2021-22, while he also has experience playing a little deeper as a box-to-box, No.8-style player.

As well as Lionel Messi and Kevin De Bruye, Bischof cites Joshua Kimmich among his idols, and even believes there are similarities between his game and that of the Bayern Munich star, even if is yet to play in the same deep role the 27-year-old regularly occupies.

Long-term, however, he is expected to be drifting around the opponents' third of the pitch more often than not.

"Because of his finishing ability, I find him all the more exciting and dangerous the closer he is to the opposing goal," says Meister. "But saying that, he wants to make a fair contribution to all parts of the team.

"He is in no way pretentious, because he puts himself completely at the service of the team. He is always there to be part of the counter-pressing while closing off passing lanes and winning the ball back when out of possession."

There are aspects of Bischof's game to work on, and he himself admits that he is focusing on improving his athleticism, flexibility and nutrition, but it is clear that he has what it takes to go to the very top of the game.

That is a view that certainly seems to be held by Julian Nagelsmann, who twice tried to sign Bischof for RB Leipzig, and has maintained an interest in the player since taking over at Bayern in 2021.

Borussia Dortmund have also been linked with a move for the teenager, but Hoffenheim have moved to ensure he remains at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena for the foreseeable future after extending his contract through until 2025 in January.

"There are quite a few voices that would have believed him capable of continuing his path elsewhere," Meister says, "but he's been playing football in Hoffenheim for many years. I think that Tom has everything there and will do what he needs to reach his next goals.

"He has a good attitude, and though he has clear aims that he wants to pursue, he is able to stay calm about doing so."

Being so grounded will no doubt help Bischof both in the short-term, as he looks to add to his 13 Bundesliga minutes next season, and the long, when Bayern and likely countless other elite clubs will come calling.

In the end, illness and a loss of form meant that Germany never got to see Gotze reach his full potential, but in Bischof they may have a second coming.

The age of the tricky No.10 might not be over for Die Mannschaft after all.