Jack Beresford looks at World Cup winner Christoph Kramer, the on-loan Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder being linked with a move to the Premier League.
Last summer’s World Cup seems like an eternity ago, but Tottenham Hotspur fans could soon be served with a timely reminder of the summer tournament amid rumours linking the club with a bid for Christoph Kramer.
The Germany international and World Cup finalist was impressive yet again in Borussia Monchengladbach’s 0-0 draw with Bayern Munich on Sunday and may well soon be on his way to England amid reported interest from Spurs.
But what do we really know about Kramer? Read on for five great bits of trivia focusing on the man himself.
Kramer’s route to the top in the Bundesliga was not as straightforward as you may believe. A youth team player with Fortuna Dusseldorf and Bayer Leverkusen, the midfielder signed his first professional contract with the latter of the two in 2010.
But game time proved hard to come by at the BayArena and a year later Kramer made the bold decision to switch down a division to Vfl Bochum in Bundesliga 2 as part of a season-long loan that caught the attention of several big sides.
At the start of the 2013/14 campaign, the German signed a contract extension with Leverkusen before agreeing to move to Borussia Monchengladbach on a two-season-long loan deal.
Part of the Germany squad that tasted success at the World Cup in Brazil, Kramer was a surprise inclusion in Die Mannschaft's starting XI for the final against Argentina, after an injury in the warm-up ruled out Sami Khedira.
The only impact of note involving Kramer, however, came when the midfielder was struck on the head by Albiceleste defender Ezequiel Garay in a challenge that eventually forced the young man off.
Speaking to the Gazetta dello Sport, referee Nicola Rizzoli revealed just how he deduced that Kramer was no longer fit to continue.
"Shortly after he'd been struck by Garay, Kramer came to me, asking 'ref, is this the final?" he told the news provider.
"I thought he was joking so I asked him to repeat the question, and he said: 'I need to know if this is really the final. After I said 'yes', he was a bit stunned and said: 'Thanks, that's important to know. I informed [Bastian] Schweinsteiger and they replaced Kramer."
Kramer counts Philipp Lahm, Manuel Neuer and Thomas Muller among his friends after the summer’s World Cup success, with the Bayern Munich trio even opting to get involved in a hilarious skit for Sports Studio in which they gave grossly exaggerated accounts of the midfielder’s behaviour in the immediate aftermath of his clash with Garay – all for comic effect of course.
In the clip Neuer said: “He was fine until I saw him acting strange. Then he came to me and said ‘Manu, let me play as the goalkeeper”
While Lahm noted: “I wasn’t worried at first, he played normally. But things started [to go badly] when he came to me and said he wanted to take the captain band from my arm. I thought ‘what’s going on here’. When he wanted to trade shirts with the ref I thought ‘it’s enough now’”.
And Muller added: "Until now you only know that he asked me if this is the final but sadly that’s only the most harmless thing that happened. He called me “Gerd” and congratulated me on the ’74 final. When the crowd was really loud he told me ‘great atmosphere here in the Ruhr stadium!
"It was important that he was subbed off because nobody knows what else he would’ve done. Maybe take off the ref’s panties."
Kramer was on the receiving end of a notable bit of sportsmanship in the Bundesliga earlier this season, after an opposition player asked the referee to rescind a yellow card that had just been given to the Germany international.
On first look, it appeared that the 23-year-old had tripped Paderborn striker Stefan Kutschke during a league clash with Gladbach.
Referee Marco Fritz went to book Kramer following the foul but Kutschke moved quickly to inform the referee that he had simply slipped rather than being fouled.
Fritz heeded the striker’s advice and a drop ball was awarded.
"There was no challenge," Kutschke told reporters afterwards.
"I slipped on the turf and I pointed that out to the referee. But then I saw that Christoph Kramer was shown a yellow card and I said – no, that wasn't a foul."
Kramer was hot property in the direct aftermath of Germany’s World Cup win, with Everton among the sides thought to be keen on completing a deal for the midfielder.
He came closest to a move to Italy and Serie A with Napoli, however, with the 22-year-old holding discussions with the Naples club over a potential move.
"Am I in contact with Napoli? Yes, I am talking to Napoli,” he told Bild at the time. "It's a very interesting offer, above all because they have a great coach. I cannot add any more at this moment."
Ultimately, however, Napoli found themselves priced out of a move with Leverkusen first-team squad manager Jonas Boldt hinting as much in an interview with Kicker.
"There is no offer ...Christoph is under contract here until 2017, and nothing else counts," he said. "Christoph certainly suits us for next season."