Leverkusen's Kai Havertz aiming to emulate idol Özil
The attacking midfidler, who is the youngest player to reach 50 Bundesliga appearances, is aiming to earn a place in Joachim Löw's Germany squad.
Talented Bayer Leverkusen teenager Kai Havertz has professed admiration for Mesut Özil as he targets a role in Germany's post-World Cup rebuild.
Özil's hotly debated retirement in the aftermath of the national team's failure in Russia has left Joachim Löw searching for a new playmaker.
Attacking midfielder Havertz, who in April became the youngest player in Bundesliga history to reach 50 appearances, has been mentioned as a possible successor, having already represented Germany at multiple youth levels.
While hesitant to discuss the controversy behind Ozil's exit - which came amid accusations of mistreatment from the German Football Federation - Havertz cited the Arsenal star as a role model.
"I would like to evaluate this exclusively from a sporting point of view," the 19-year-old told German website Spox. "To doubt his footballing qualities is incomprehensible to me.
"He has always been a player whom I love to watch and whose path I follow. Mesut Özil is a really great player, who has done a lot for the national team and also his clubs."
The rapid international emergence of Leverkusen team-mate Julian Brandt is likewise serving as inspiration for Havertz in his aim of achieving selection for Euro 2020.
Brandt, 22, won his first senior cap two years after his professional debut and went on to feature for Germany at the World Cup.
"I can take take a bit of an example [from Brandt], even if I would rather call him a friend and not a role model," said Havertz.
"It's a shame we had to go home so early [from Russia], but maybe this tournament has also opened the doors for other players to slip into the national team due to Julian's achievements.
"Of course I have it in mind and I want to do more at some point after seeing friends play at a World Cup."
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