Uncovering an ideal replacement for Michael Ballack in the centre of the German midfield has proved a tough task. The player needed to be a good defender, smart tactician and tireless worker, yet still contribute to the team’s attacking efforts. Sami Khedira has emerged as a strong candidate for the job. The 23-year-old has performed with tremendous consistency at club level for VfB Stuttgart, suggesting he may make a vital contribution to his country’s cause, potentially even at the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa.
The son of a Tunisian father and German mother, Khedira earned regular status in the holding position for VfB in his very first season after signing professional forms, playing a key role in Stuttgart’s 2006/07 Bundesliga triumph. Physically robust, an excellent reader of the play and a good tactical thinker, the midfielder excels as the link man between defence and attack. His ability to deliver precise and incisive passes means he is frequently the instigator of dangerous attacking moves, and at 1.89m, he is more than useful in the air too.
Khedira first pulled on a VfB jersey at the age of eight. Always one of the best players at each youth level, his career followed the textbook route for a gifted junior. Voted German Player of the Month by his fellow professionals in December 2008, international success soon followed. Khedira captained the Germany U-21s to the 2009 European championship crown in Sweden, before earning his first senior cap in a 2-0 victory over South Africa in Leverkusen the following September.
Khedira is yet to secure genuine regular status in the senior Germany squad, but his cause cannot have been harmed by Simon Rolfes’ injury-related withdrawal from the 2010 FIFA World Cup. As a result, the Stuttgart man could well find himself lining up in the heart of the German midfield in South Africa.