Germany axes World Cup winners Mueller, Boateng, Hummels

BERLIN (AP) — Thomas Mueller, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels have been axed by Germany as part of its shake-up following the woeful World Cup defense last year.

Germany coach Joachim Loew says the three Bayern Munich players will be omitted from his future plans, and “now it’s time to set the course for the future. We want to give the team a new look. I am convinced that this is the right step.”

All three helped Germany win the World Cup in 2014 but were unable to prevent the side finishing bottom of their group in a botched defense four years later.

Loew says he wants to make clear the time is right for a “new start” before qualifying for the 2020 European Championship begins.

German soccer federation president Reinhard Grindel backs Loew’s decision.

Mueller scored 38 goals in 100 appearances for Germany and had been a mainstay since finishing joint-top scorer at the World Cup in 2010, when he won the Best Young Player award.

Hummels and fellow central defender Boateng finished with 70 and 74 appearances, respectively.