There was nothing contemplative about this Christmas message from Julian Nagelsmann. And it certainly rang loudly in the ears of some national soccer players around midnight. In order to save his European Championship mission, which had been jeopardized by the painful November defeats against Turkey and Austria, the national coach in the spotlight of the ZDF “Sportstudio” set “everything to zero” in an unprecedented way just six months before the start of the home tournament. .

Specifically: Joshua Kimmich after a long hesitation on the right in the back four, Manuel Neuer back in goal in March, Ilkay Gündogan from the six forward to the center, Kai Havertz never again as a full-back after a failed experiment and then also a possible European Championship comeback by old master Toni Kroos as the next representative of the strong and growing over-30 group. These were the personal details that Nagelsmann announced surprisingly openly.

The 36-year-old apparently didn’t want to talk about names, but rather about structures, as he announced at the beginning of what was already a memorable studio appearance. The plan in Advent was obviously completely different, as Nagelsmann freely revealed the various personal details 181 days before the start of the European Championship and the opening game against Scotland.

In principle, the following also applies: With the European Championship tests in France (March 23rd) and against the Netherlands (March 26th), defensive stability is what counts now and not Luftikus football. “In the last few games we simply had a bit too many offensive-minded players and not enough defensive-minded players,” said Nagelsmann. The core message of the young national coach was anyway: I am the boss, I decide – and I make the right decisions. Football Germany shouldn’t worry. The home European Championships are in good hands with me.

“I knew that it would be difficult, that it would be a big task – and that it was a very attractive task and that we could do it. That we could all overcome it together, the team, the coaching team,” said Nagelsmann literally. The talk at Lerchenberg in Mainz also made it clear that the national coach is still unfamiliar with the specifics of the position. He misses the daily active work as a club coach. A possible squad restructuring is the only advantage of the DFB job. And Nagelsmann now wants to make use of this. So what do the personnel measures mean?

The Bayern professional was forewarned. Of course, Nagelsmann assured that he spoke to Joshua Kimmich before his TV appearance. Otherwise the 28-year-old would have been caught off guard by the news. With the move back from the six to the job as right full-back, Kimmich experienced a perceived degradation. But the measure makes sense for everyone. The position has been poorly filled for a long time, Kimmich can play it. In 2020, Bayern won the Champions League with him. “Through a small adjustment, it’s not a 180-degree change, Josh is also a candidate for this position,” said Nagelsmann. The prominent role model: European Championship tournament director Philipp Lahm at the 2014 World Cup victory.

106 games for Germany. Still a top performer at Real Madrid. Strong of opinion and tactically world class anyway. Why should Nagelsmann do without someone like Toni Kroos? The comeback idea brought up by Real defender Antonio Rüdiger has probably been brewing for Nagelsmann for a long time. A stabilizer in the defensive center is urgently needed anyway. The idea was “interesting,” admitted Nagelsmann, and he stumbled verbally when it came to interpreting whether there had already been discussions. “You have to think about all the players who have a German passport, I think that’s my job,” he said. Trend: Kroos will be back in March for the first time since 2021.

That no longer sounded like a free pass for the captain. But Nagelsmann definitely wants to see Ilkay Gündogan further forward in the future, as one of three tens in the future. “He simply has a bit more freedom. He is a player with a goal threat and a good instinct,” said Nagelsmann. Conversely, defensive types are in demand in the six position. Kroos possibly as a strategist, Pascal Groß as a suitable counterpart. And characters praised by name like Robert Andrich or Grischa Prömel as backups. Nagelsmann didn’t talk about Leon Goretzka.

After hearing these words, Marc-André ter Stegen’s back may not only hurt. Because even without a very clear statement, it became clear: Manuel Neuer is back in pole position in the duel for number one. If the European Championships kicked off in March, the record goalkeeper would certainly be in goal at his eighth major tournament in a row. “If everything continues as it currently seems towards March, then it will come down to this,” Nagelsmann said for the time being only about Neuer’s role in the next test matches after an international break of over a year. Ter Stegen first has to overcome the consequences of a back operation.

Kai Havertz received absolution. He played well as a left full-back. But he will never do that again. The experiment is “over,” said Nagelsmann. With the new defensive maxim, the Arsenal professional is moving back into the oversupply of creative offensives. There is even less space there due to Gündogan’s move forward. The young stars Florian Wirtz and Jamal Musiala also have to fight for regular places. Leroy Sané is initially suspended after his red card in Vienna. Who plays always depends on the opponent, said Nagelsmann. For Julian Brandt and Serge Gnabry, a place in the squad could even be tight towards the European Championships.