Ever since World Cup and Germany record scorer Miroslav Klose retired, the national team have struggled in the centre forward department. However, at Euro 2024, Julian Nagelsmann has four promising options for the position. Is the search for Klose’s successor finally over?

Uwe Seeler, Gerd Müller, Rudi Völler, Jürgen Klinsmann and Miroslav Klose; Germany has produced some iconic forwards through the decades. But in the last few years that production line has come to a stop, and likewise, so did Germany’s success in major tournaments.

The national team has been going through the worst run of results in their history, with their best finish at the last three major tournaments being the round of 16 at Euro 2020. At the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, Germany crashed out in the group stage, having previously never failed to reach the final eight.

A lot of the blame lay at the feet of the strikers. All-time record scorer for Germany, Klose – who also holds the record for most goals scored at the World Cup – retired after they won the World Cup in 2014, and his country hasn’t been able to replace him since.

Germany lost six of their 11 matches in the calendar year 2023. At 55%, this was the team’s worst loss ratio in a calendar year since 1956. Their lowest low came in their final match of 2023, getting played off the park by neighbours Austria in a 2-0 defeat.

Austria 2-0 Germany stats

That night in Vienna wasn’t the first time Germany had struggled to create chances and score goals in 2023. An average of 1.5 goals per match was their third worst in a year since the start of the millennium, only in 2018, the year of their first ever World Cup group stage exit (1.1) and in 2003, the year preceding the group stage exit at Euro 2004 did they perform worse (1.4).

Alarm bells started to ring again after Germany’s 0-0 draw with Ukraine in a warm-up friendly ahead of Euro 2024, especially as they created 27 chances, though they did follow that up with a 2-1 victory over Greece a few days later.

However, there is hope in the German camp that the days of attacking misery will be ended by the quartet of Deniz Undav, Kai Havertz, Niclas Füllkrug and Maximilian Beier, who are each coming off very successful 2023-24 campaigns with their respective clubs.

Goals by Germans 23-24

We take a look at each of the attacking quartet to see if they’re likely to fire Germany to glory this summer, or at least provide the sort of threat that can make the hosts a contender at Euro 2024.

Kai Havertz

Despite only turning 25 shortly before the Euro kicks off, Havertz is by far the most experienced player on the elite international level among Germany’s forward foursome. He has more than twice as many international caps and goals, as well as Champions League appearances and goals as the other three players combined.

Germany strikers stats

Until earlier this year, though, Havertz had struggled to find a permanent role at club and international level, with the former Bayer Leverkusen and Chelsea man being tried out all over the field. During Germany’s defeat against Turkey in November, he even started as a left-back.

Since the spring of 2024, Havertz has been used as a centre forward both for Arsenal and Germany and has started to once more look like the player he promised to be.

Havertz has started all four of Germany’s matches in 2024 as the lone striker in a 4-2-3-1 system. He scored in the 2-0 win over France and, while he didn’t find the net in the 2-1 win over the Netherlands, Havertz showed his industrious side, contesting the most duels among all German players on the pitch (9). These two matches were Germany’s best performances in ages and created hope for an upturn in form, while Havertz also scored in their final warm-up friendly against Greece.

Havertz played a vital part in Arsenal’s push for the Premier League title, especially after the match against Newcastle in February when he started to be primarily deployed as the central striker in Mikel Arteta’s 4-3-3.

Kai Havertz position mins before 24 Feb
Kai Havertz position mins since 24 Feb

In 13 matches since and including that Newcastle game, Havertz recorded 14 of his 20 direct goal involvements in the Premier League this season (8G 6A). In this period, only Chelsea’s Cole Palmer (17) managed more Premier League goal involvements than the German.

Havertz also impressed with his work rate; he contested (173) and won (82) more duels than any other Arsenal player during this time, while he used his height of 1.93m to win the second-most aerial duels among all players in the league (53, behind only Luton’s Carlton Morris – 56).

Niclas Füllkrug

Germans do love a classic number nine and with his physicality, Füllkrug fits that role perfectly. He has scored 11 goals in 15 matches for Germany, but many of those did not come against elite opposition. The 31-year-old, who only really made his Bundesliga breakthrough in 2022-23, has often been accompanied by doubts as to whether he has the quality to perform at the highest level.

During Dortmund’s run to the UEFA Champions League final, Füllkrug put these doubts emphatically aside. His headed goal against Atlético Madrid in the quarter-final and the combination of run, first touch and finish for his goal against Paris Saint-Germain in the semis, were some of the finest pieces of centre forward play you are likely to see, even more so in context of the stage they came on.

But Füllkrug is not just a poacher who is waiting for his teammates to put him into scoring positions; he also serves as an outlet during build-up play.

Niclas Fullkrug aerials UCL 23-24

Füllkrug won more aerial duels than any other forward per 90 minutes in the Champions League in 2023-24 (4.7), while he also registered the most flick-ons (2.9 – 500+ minutes). Olivier Giroud ranked second in the latter category (2.5). The Frenchman, who is widely recognised as having elite link-up abilities, was the only striker to register more successful layoffs per 90 minutes in the UCL (1.9) than Füllkrug (1.8).

Should a Euro 2024 match reach a shoot-out for Germany, Füllkrug brings another quality. Of the 22 penalties he has taken at senior level, he has converted 21, including the last 18 in a row.

Deniz Undav

Undav’s way to the top was also anything but straightforward. Having been dismissed by Werder Bremen’s youth academy, he played at an amateur level before joining third division SV Meppen.

After an impressive 2019-20 in the 3. Liga, he earned a move to Belgium’s Union St. Gilloise, who he fired to the first division before finishing 2021-22 as the Jupiler Pro League’s top scorer. His move to the Premier League with Brighton in 2022 did not produce the desired results, so he was loaned out to VfB Stuttgart last summer, and hasn’t looked back.

Undav scored 18 goals in the Bundesliga in 2023-24, the best return by a German player in his debut season in the league in 51 years (1972-73, Günter Pröpper scored 21 goals for Wuppertaler SV). It was also the best tally among all German players in the big five leagues in 2023-24.

Together with Serhou Guirassy, Undav formed a brilliant partnership, helping the five-time German champions to a second place finish; a remarkable turnaround to finish above Bayern Munich after a 2022-23 season that had seen them only escape relegation via the play-offs.

Undav Bundesliga goals per 90 23-24

Undav proved to be a constant goal threat in the Bundesliga in 2023-24, where he ranked first in terms of attacking contribution (6.2 non-penalty shots + open play chances created) and non-penalty shots (4.6) per 90 minutes (900+ minutes).

The 27-year-old did not only shine as a goalscorer; he also provided nine open play assists – the most among all centre forwards, as were his 0.26 open-play expected assists per 90. Seven of his assists came in the second half of the season, with no player setting up more goals during that period (Álex Grimaldo also 7).

Undav Bundesliga xA 23-24

Maximilian Beier

Maximilian Beier has often featured in Germany’s youth teams but only made his full international debut in the recent friendly against Ukraine. It was a promising start despite Germany failing to score, as Beier was directly involved in eight shots during his 31 minutes on the pitch, the most of any player.

Julian Nagelsmann will hope that is a sign of things to come from the 21-year-old and Beier can be just as successful as he was in first full season in the Bundesliga.

Beier scored 16 league goals in 2023-24, a tally that has only been bettered by three German players aged 22 or under in any of the last 50 Bundesliga campaigns.

Most goals by U22 German players

Among Germany’s attacking quartet, Beier is the least likely to be the starting striker at Euro 2024, but he could be an excellent option from the bench. Thanks to his pace, the Hoffenheim striker can exploit any spaces left open by tiring defences in the later stages of a match.

Beier’s top speed of 35.5 km/h was only bettered by 14 players in the Bundesliga this season, while it was also a lot faster than that of Füllkrug (32.5) and Undav (32.7). Opposition teams are highly advised not to give Beier any space to run with the ball as he fired the second most shots following carries (25) in the Bundesliga in 2023-24 (after Xavi Simons – 27), with only Guirassy (7) scoring more goals following carries than Beier’s six.

Max Beier attacking carries 23-24

It has been a while since Germany could boast centre forward options of such quality and diverse skill sets as Havertz, Füllkrug, Undav and Beier. Can they help put an end to Germany’s ’10 years of hurt’ since the 2014 World Cup triumph?

Our football newsletter ‘Stat, Viz, Quiz’ is going all in on Euro 2024 this summer, so sign up to receive exclusive content. You should also follow our social accounts over on XInstagramTikTok and Facebook.