DFB comebacker, PSG regular player: How Thilo Kehrer is working on his World Cup dream

Thilo Kehrer has not been as happy as he was these days for a long time. Since wearing the Paris-Saint-Germain jersey, since moving from Schalke to the French capital for 37 million euros in the summer of 2018, the Tübingen-based man has experienced some highs, but above all several lows. Starting with his big mistake in the second leg of the second leg in the Champions League against Manchester United (1: 3) in March 2019, which led to the unexpected end of his team. After that, no transfer period went by without Kehrer being on the hit list. Sports director Leonardo wanted to get rid of him for a long time, reason: lack of constancy, numerous injuries, too little glamor in the Parisian star ensemble.

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The former PSG coach Thomas Tuchel, who had campaigned to sign him, was also less than enthusiastic about the appearance of his compatriot – and when Mauricio Pochettino took over as coach in January, Kehrer’s end on the Seine seemed sealed. This time he has been linked to Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Bayern Munich, but the transfer window is closed again and Kehrer is still a Parisian. Three weeks ago, the PSG bosses decided internally to keep Kehrer after all. On the one hand, because there are too few alternatives in central defense. But also because Kehrer improved enormously in preparation.

While the French runner-up started a unique shopping tour with Lionel Messi, Sergio Ramos, Achraf Hakimi, Georginio Wijnaldum and Gianluigi Donnarumma, Kehrer was used in every game from the start. Since the start of the season, he has not missed a single minute across all competitions (four games in Ligue 1 and in the French Supercup). “You can rely on Thilo”said Pochettino last. And the new national coach Hansi Flick also offered Kehrer for the first time since September 2020 for the DFB team and brought him into the starting line-up on his debut against Liechtenstein.

“In the past few weeks he has made great strides in positional play and assertiveness. He also appears more liberated and confident”, praises his club coach Pochettino. Even if the non-nomination for the European Championship came as a surprise after a disappointing season in Paris with only a few appearances, he had to recover from it first. Kehrer did not use the free time for vacation, but worked on himself and his body. “He’s on the right track right now,” said Pochettino. “We have a lot of games in the coming weeks and I am firmly convinced that Thilo will play an interesting role in them.”

Kehrer has finally found his old strength again, also because he is now used in his favorite position in the middle and no longer as an emergency nail in the right-back position. His direct rivals Sergio Ramos and Presnel Kimpembe are often injured, so he can even have high hopes for appearances against Manchester City or RB Leipzig in the autumn in the Champions League. But first he wants to enjoy his comeback in the national team. There he also sees himself as a central defender in perspective. “So far I have played further outside and further up front in the national team. I feel good there too. But my goal is to keep playing my way into the middle.”

Kehrer’s destination is Qatar. The 24-year-old has so far made ten international matches, but has not yet contested a world or European championship. As a regular player in the Paris world selection, he should have the best tickets for a ticket for the World Cup next winter.

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