Meet Jann-Fiete Arp, the German Harry Kane
Ask a vast majority of German football fans about Harry Kane, their replies would almost certainly mention Hamburg's 17-year-old goal machine, Jann-Fiete Arp. The notion may have been unintentionally planted by the youngster himself, but it's steadily gaining ground across Deutschland.
Germany has a generations-old history of breeding top quality marksmen. Gerd Mueller, Fritz Walter, and Uwe Seelerst from your dad or grandad's generation. Jurgen Klinsmann, Miroslav Klose, and Lucas Podolski if, like Arp, you were born in the 21st century's shadow.
However, the well seems to have run dry. Thomas Mueller has cooled off after looking like he might replace Klose and Podolski. Die Mannschaft is no longer overwhelmed with top-class number nines at the peak of their prowess. In the Bundesliga, foreigners Robert Lewandowski (Poland) and Pierre-Emrick Aubameyang (Gabon) dominate the scoring race with 13 and 11 goals respectively. Kevin Volland (8) and Timo Werner (7) are well off the pace. Perhaps that's the reason Arp took an unusual, though worthwhile, trip to England for inspiration.
As unlikely as it may seem, Arp models his game after Harry Kane.
He plays the way I want to play. He's pacy and very comfortable with and without the ball. It's difficult to stop him. You need to pay attention to 90 minutes because he can score at any time.
Indeed, Kane's fingerprints are all over Arp's game. His finishing is nearly as exquisite as the 24-year-old's. Headers, scrappy follow-ups, 20-yard drives straight out of the top drawer, he notches them all. Standing 6'2", he posseses a similar physique to the Tottenham superstar. While not blessed with abundant pace, he doesn't relinquish possession without a fight. In short, Arp bears all the hallmarks of the archetypal goal poacher.
What the youngster finds by far most appealing is the route Kane took to the top. At just 24, the former Arsenal trainee has scored 87 times in the Premier League since breaking into the Spurs' first team during the 2013/14 season. He has also matured into a full England international, with 12 strikes in 25 outings.
He went through all the youth teams in his club, became a first-team player in that club, and was even the league's top scorer twice. Now, he's an international. In the space of three years, Kane has made every step that you dream of as a young player.
That's exactly the same path the youngster is travelling. Born in Bad Segeberg, a town 50km away from Hamburg, Arp joined Hamburg at 10. Five years later, he was already banging in goals with alarming regularity. He netted 37 in 45 games for die Rothosen's U-17s, then seamlessly continued that streak with the U-19s. For country, he has been equally phenomenal. Twice he represented Germany at international cadet tournaments. Both times he finished top scorer.
Yet the young forward had to bide his time patiently with the HSV reserves. Despite top European sides following his progress with keen interest, the single-minded Arp was focused on Hamburg. He was eventually rewarded with his Bundesliga debut against Werder Bremen in October. He hasn't looked back.
Arp became the first 21st century-born player to score in the division with a strike at Hertha. He hit another a week later and has started every game since.
Arp's next outing will be on Friday against SC Freiburg. He's a talent many Germans hope can emulate Kane, ending their top striker drought.