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Knauff attracts criticism after U21 deployment: "Plenty of room for improvement."

By Peter Weis   @PeterVicey

As the German U21s were left to lament a set-back in terms of their level of play yesterday, Germany U21 head-coach Antonio di Salvo delivered some words of criticism for young international Ansgar Kanuff. 
Ansgar Knauff.
Ansgar Knauff.Photo: Sven Mandel, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0
After looking fairly robust in a 2-2 draw with Japan last Friday, the German U21s appeared flat, uninspired, and constantly mistake prone in a 0-0 draw with Romania yesterday. One player in particular looked to be totally off his game. Frankfurt loanee Ansgar Knauff - on loan from Borussia Dortmund - kept making passing errors, curious choices on the ball, and immature and quarrelsome body language.

The 21-year-old has had a subpar sophomore season for loan club Frankfurt after making such a large impact in last year's Europa League campaign. Drifting in and out of SGE as a makeshift wingback, the natural winger hasn't looked entirely comfortable when being tasked performing further afield. There were times during yesterday's match when it seemed like frustration got the better of him. Knauff sometimes complained more than played.

"He lost the ball a lot and avoided certain duels," Germany U21 head-coach Antonio di Salvo said when assessing Knauff's disappointing shift, "I told him that he needs to keep at it and maintain self-confidence even when things don't turn out as planned. He's been missing that somewhat."

"If something doesn't work, he hangs his head," di Salvo continued, "He has to keep at it, but that only works if he's willing to do so. If he follows his direct instinct to counter press off the ball, everything usually works out fine. There's room for improvement there."

Knauff may have missed out on an excellent opportunity to recommend himself for di Salvo's starting XI in this summer's coming U21 European Championship. Di Salvo will very likely have players such as Youssoufa Moukoko, Karim Adeyemi, Jonathan Burkhardt, Jan Theilmann or perhaps even Florian Wirtz available to him when building his attack.

The Göttingen native has a critical club-career-choice ahead of him as well.

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