Shortly before the end of 2015, Nicolas Kühn gave the first interview of his career in a kitchen in the west of Hamburg. He had spent part of Christmas with his father and his 16th birthday was due. His date of birth, January 1, 2000, earned him the nickname Millennium Kid. The Bild newspaper called him "Superbubi" since he moved from the performance center of Hannover 96 to the brand new campus of RB Leipzig in the summer, which at that time was considered groundbreaking for German youth work.
Almost four years later, reports are again about Kühn. On Friday he will be awarded in Hamburg with the Fritz Walter Medal in Gold as the best U19 player in Germany. "I am very pleased, because it is the highest recognition that is given in Germany a talent," says Kühn to ZEIT ONLINE. "Since the U15, I have always been part of the junior national teams and those responsible at the DFB know my abilities and my personality exactly."
But Kühn is now playing abroad. Because he could not get on with what he can in Germany at some point. One and a half years ago, he moved from Leipzig to Ajax Amsterdam, where he runs for the second team, which is called Jong Ajax. In the preseason, he pursued the triumphal procession of the little older Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt through the Champions League at close range. "During the group stage, we played in parallel with the U19 in the Youth League, so we were also in the away games there."
Statement against own junior work
Even the second winner of the Fritz Walter Medal for male offspring will not be coming from a German performance center this year. U17 player Karim Adeyemi is currently on loan from RB Salzburg to his training team Liefering. The decision of the jury acts like a statement against the own junior work, like a confession.
While the youth development concept of the DFB was still considered to be the non plus ultra in Europe recently, it has fallen into disrepute at the latest after the national team's early retirement at the 2018 World Cup. If the tactical maturity and the combination game of the German offspring were praised beforehand, it is now said that there was a lack of individualism and assertiveness.
"We have deliberately nominated players whose skills have been greatly missed in Germany recently and are rarely found in this form," says the head coach of the German national team Meikel Schönweitz. "We also made sure that the players took responsibility when it mattered, that they were ahead and that their individual teams were good for their dynamics and playing style."
In the meantime people think differently in Leipzig
Now in demand are dynamic pace dribblers like Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sané, but also players who can decide for themselves on the field, which is good for their team. Kühn combines these qualities, can be used both as an attacker and as a "10s". In the over-organized training system of the DFB, he could not develop these skills as desired. Especially not in Leipzig with the local focus on the run-intensive Gegenpressing.
"In Leipzig, I did not feel that the game idea suited my kind of football and also that I'll get a direct chance at the top," says Kühn. As the "worst team in six years" called the then RB sports director Ralf Rangnick the U19.
In the meantime one thinks differently in Leipzig, from whose academy so far no player has prevailed with the own professionals, differently: "we put an even stronger focus on the individual promotion", said Sebastian Kegel, one of the two new young managers the sport buzzer . This development, to bring the player and his needs to the forefront, began a year or two ago.