Football Whispers profiles the Germany Under-21s star who Spurs are interested in signing after losing their England star
AS a potential Tottenham Hotspur signing, turning down club legend Jurgen Klinsmann isn’t the best start. But that’s exactly what Hoffenheim defender Jeremy Toljan did in 2015.
Born to an American father, Toljan was offered the chance to play for the USA but rejected the offer from then-USMNT coach Klinsmann.
Now the 22-year-old, who helped Germany under-21s win the European Championships in Poland this summer, is a Spurs transfer target.
But who is the versatile full-back? Our friends at Football Whispers profile the man who could replace Kyle Walker at Tottenham this season.
Who is Jeremy Toljan and where does he come from?
Toljan was born in Stuttgart to a Croatian mother and American father and played locally as a youngster, most notably for Stuttgarter Kickers who were one of Klinsmann’s early clubs.
He joined Stuttgart’s main club, VfB, in 2008 and spent three years in Die Roten’s academy before moving to Hoffenheim in 2011.
Toljan had to be patient as Die Kraichgauer battled to establish themselves in the Bundesliga following a rapid rise from the German amateur leagues.
Named as a substitute on three occasions in 2012/13, Toljan was handed his debut the following year away to Mainz in week eight of the season.
Kevin Volland and future Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino looked to have given Hoffenheim a 2-0 win until efforts from Eric Choupo-Moting and Younes Malli in the final eight minutes denied the visitors maximum points.
Toljan finished the 2013/14 season with six Bundesliga starts and four substitute outings to his name and was an unused sub on 21 further occasions.
He was afforded just 379 minutes of league action the following season. But 2015/16 proved to be Toljan’s breakthrough year.
Full-backs Andreas Beck and Luis Advincula both departed in the summer of 2015, opening up spots on either side of Hoffenheim’s defence.
Toljan took full advantage and made 19 appearances, scoring his first goal in a 4-2 defeat to Wolfsburg.
It was in 2015 that Klinsmann came knocking with the offer of international football for the USA.
“He called me and asked whether I could imagine playing for the United States,” said Toljan. “It was only a short conversation.”
That decision was vindicated by the end of the season as the defender was included in Germany’s squad for the 2016 Olympics in Rio, along with Serge Gnabry, Julian Brand, Max Meyer and Liverpool transfer target Leon Goretzka.
It was an impressive group of players – despite the European Championships taking place in France – and Die Mannschaft finished runners-up to Brazil.
A regular again last season for Hoffenheim, Toljan was part of Stefan Kuntz’s under-21 squad for the European Championships in Poland this summer.
Germany went one better this time with Toljan helping his country beat Spain 1-0 in the final.
How much will he cost?
Having helped Hoffenheim finish fourth to secure Champions League football next term, coach Julian Nagelsmann is under no pressure to sell any of his players this summer which means Die Kraichgauer can demand what they want for Toljan.
Still, with less than 100 Bundesliga starts to his name, Toljan is not a ready-made star and could be available for under than £10m – a fee chairman Daniel Levy shouldn’t baulk at– as his Hoffenheim contract expires next summer.
Where is his most likely destination this summer?
Spurs are leading the race to sign Toljan after selling Walker to Spurs for £45m last week in what was, briefly, a world-record deal for a defender.
Kieran Trippier will become Pochettino’s first-choice right-back – and has already signed a contract until 2022 – but an alternative is needed to provide depth.
Chelsea have previously been linked with Toljan but the Blues are less likely to offer the youngster the minutes he needs to for his development.
In that sense Spurs would be a good fit. Pochettino is a big believer in youth and Toljan would get the coaching and opportunities needed to progress.
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