Bundesliga clubs have been attracting some of the best young talent in the game by offering one simple thing………playing time.
Once in Germany, the lighter fixture schedule affords more hours on the training pitch & longer recovery time between games, helping players reach their full potential.
With the Bundesliga returning May 16th, here’s my XI best Wunderkids in Germany’s top division.
GK – Alexander Nübel 23 (FC Schalke)
A ‘sweeper-keeper’ who’s comfortable with the ball at his feet it’s easy to understand why his Paderborn youth teammates nicknamed him “Manual”. Billed as Germany’s next great Goalkeeping prospect he’ll learn what it truly takes to fill Neuer’s gloves, when Nübel completes his move to Bayern in the summer.
LB – Alphonso Davies 19 (Bayern Munich)
In the 18 months Davies has been at Bayern, he’s progressed from a promising LW to one of the world’s most exciting LBs. His explosive pace terrorized Chelsea in the Champions League last 16 & announced him to the world. Watch Davies continue to improve over the coming weeks & further develop his partnership with Serge Gnabry.
CB – Dayot Upamenaco 21 (RB Leipzig)
Despite offers from some of Europe’s top clubs, Upamenaco joined Leipzig back in January 2017 on the advice of Ousmane Dembele “Here, they’re going to play you”. Over 100 appearances later he’s developed into one of the best ball playing CB’s in the world with pace, strength & positioning in his locker as well. Dayot has 1 year left on his contract & a big money move to one of Europe’s elite looks certain this summer.
CB – Ozan Kabak 20 (FC Schalke)
Kabak’s Bundesliga career started in January 2019 with VFB Stuttgart where he earned Rookie of the Year despite relegation. Naturally the likes of Bayern, Manchester United & AC Milan circled but it was Schalke who won his signature. An out & out defender who’s excellent in the air & one-on-one situations, Kabak would be an excellent complement to any ball playing defender.
RB – Achraf Hakimi 21 (Borussia Dortmund)
Hakimi hit 22.49 MPH back in December becoming the fastest player in Bundesliga history. He has contributed 7 goals & 10 assists in all competitions & developed a devastating partnership with Sancho down the right. With his loan deal coming to an end this summer, parent club Real Madrid will welcome him back with open arms. Expect to see him as Los Blancos 1st choice RB for years to come.
CM – Tyler Adams 21 (RB Leipzig)
Leipzig & Nagelsmann demonstrated their belief in Adams tying him down in March with a new contract till 2025 despite only 17 appearances in 14 months. If the hardworking & technically gifted deep-lying playmaker continues to develop at the rate anticipated he will reach his personal goal of captaining the USMNT.
CM – Ezequiel Palacios 21 (Bayer Leverkusen)
The latest prospect looking to flourish joined in January with 4 Argentina caps, a 2018 Copa Libetadores & 3 Copa Argentina winners medals to his name. Much is expected from this technically gifted midfielder who has an eye for goal & the ability to play in his teammates (10 goals & 11 assists in 77 appearances for River Plate).
AM – Kai Havertz 20 (Bayer Leverkusen)
One of the most exciting players in world football Havertz will one day be challenging for the Ballon d’Or. He broke into Leverkusen’s 1st team back in 2016 & has racked up 38 goals & 30 assists in 139 appearances. His technical ability & dynamism combined with his movement on & off the ball makes him a truly unique talent. With his contract up in 2022 it won’t be long till he joins one of Europe’s elite.
LW – Marcus Thuram 22 (Borussia Monchengladbach)
When following in your father’s footsteps it can be difficult to escape his shadow, especially if he’s 1998 World Cup & Euro 2000 winning legend Lilian Thuram. With 10 goals & 9 assists Marcus is moving into the light & the $9.9 million transfer fee looks a bargain. Gladbach were genuine title challengers earlier in the season before Bayern found their rhythm. Currently, they sit in 4th & will be hoping Thuram can fire them to Champions League qualification.
RW – Jadon Sancho 20 (Borussia Dortmund)
Pre Covid-19 Sancho looked destined to return home with several of the Premier League’s biggest clubs willing to meet Dortmund’s asking price of €120 million. With the financial impact caused by the pandemic unknown yet he may be staying to entertain Die Gelbe Wand (The Yellow Wall) a little longer. Directly involved in 40% of BVB’s goals this season with 17 goals & 19 assists Jadon’s choice to leave Manchester City back in August 2017 has truly paid off, helping him to develop into one of the world’s most exciting talents.
STR – Erling Haaland 19 (Borussia Dortmund)
When Dortmund confirmed the signing of Haaland back in late December it was seen as a bit of a coup. 12 goals & 2 assists in 11 appearances later it’s looking like one of the best pieces of business in their history. Physically imposing at 6’4” you would expect this future Ballon d’Or contender to be used as a target man, but Haaland’s game is all about getting behind defenders with his pace & movement. When the Bundesliga returns, we’re guaranteed to see goals from this man followed by his iconic “Zen” celebration.
Manager – Julian Nagelsmann 32 (RB Leipzig)
The same opportunity that is afforded to players is afforded to managers as well. This is Nagelsmann’s 5th season managing in the Bundesliga after he was handed the reigns at Hoffenheim in February 2016, saving them from relegation & winning Coach of the Year. The following season he delivered Champions League football finishing 4th. He has shown great faith in young players & his tactical principles of aggressive pressing, direct football & counter-pressing has coined the term “Ralfball”. Now one of Europe’s hottest managerial prospects & sitting 5 points behind Bayern, Nagelsmann will be hoping to inspire his team to their first ever Meisterschale.