There is no questioning that Toni Kroos is an excellent footballer who would start for nearly any national team. The 23-year-old has phenomenal delivery, especially shooting and passing over long distances. And yet, it's becoming increasingly questionable exactly where he could fit into the Germany team even as a second choice.
One great problem Kroos faces is tactical. The player, who missed Germany's recent qualifiers due to a minor knock, would be ideal as a central midfielder in a 4-3-3 formation, but none of the three central positions in the 4-2-3-1 that Germany coach Joachim Low uses suits him.
Kroos lacks the physical strength and defensive qualities required to play in defensive midfield; Louis van Gaal's failed experiment at Bayern with him and Bastian Schweinsteiger as holding partners is a perfect example.
The ex-Hansa Rostock man has made a name for himself as a central playmaker at Bayern, but competition in the national team is greater in that position.
Until this year, Kroos was always the man to replace Bastian Schweinsteiger as a holding midfielder in Joachim Low's team. The trainer highly rated the former Leverkusen loanee and even started him in place of Sami Khedira in some experiments.
Khedira has since nailed down a permanent role; his muscle in midfield has greatly benefited the German team in terms of balance. And Ilkay Gundogan, who plays in a holding midfield role at Dortmund and has been superb for Germany in 2013, now seems to have displaced Kroos for the role of vice-Schweinsteiger.
In the central playmaking role, Mesut Ozil is first choice. Behind him is the increasingly brilliant Mario Gotze, who, despite playing in a forward role as of late, is naturally a playmaker and could drop back. If Ozil is off and Gotze plays as the No. 10, Marco Reus can move into the central striker role as Andre Schurrle, Lukas Podolski or Julian Draxler is brought on to play on the left wing. Another option is to keep Reus on the wing and use Miroslav Klose or Mario Gomez in the center of attack.
It would be foolish to write off Kroos this early in his career, but the Bayern man faces an increasingly difficult struggle as he looks to reclaim a role in the German national team. He will have to adapt his game and develop himself further if he is to earn more minutes for Low's team. Right now, he just doesn't offer enough.