Munich - The summer of 2014 in German football was one for the history books, with the Nationalmannschaft lifting the FIFA World Cup just 18 days before Marcus Sorg’s Under-19s side were crowned European champions in Hungary. The national's game has reached new heights, and it's thanks in no small part to a thriving youth policy.

Dreams of reaching the pinnacle of the footballing profession often require several iterations to become reality. In Germany, though, where the likes of Julian Draxler can become the youngest player to break the 100-appearance barrier at the age of 20 years and 225 days, things work a little differently.

FC Schalke 04’s World Cup winner is but one example, as the Bundesliga is awash with highly coveted young talents. Over the course of this four-part series, bundesliga.com will cast an eye over the top 20 ‘Ones to Watch’ under the age of 20, listed in order of their Bundesliga appearances to date. It's a select group that includes familiar faces and unknown quantities in equal measure....

Back in March of 2013, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg himself claimed he was a “new breed of player”, and after admitting to crying when football hero Zinedine Zidane was sent off in the 2006 World Cup final, is starting to prove it. Stocky and powerful, the young Dane shone in the 2014 DFB Cup final and has featured regularly for the record titleholders during pre-season, and Pep Guardiola appears to have him earmarked for the right wing-back role. “I've taken a very big step. I was a youth player last year, but now I feel part of the first team.”

Bundesliga career statistics:
Appearances: 9
Goals: 0

Rough around the edges but possessing great potential, Gruezo caught the eye of former Stuttgart head coach Huub Stevens last season: “He's calm on the ball and adds stability in midfield”. The Ecuadorian was the biggest benefactor of Stevens’ short reign, making eight top-flight appearances before featuring twice for his country at the 2014 World Cup. “I’m determined to take the next step with Stuttgart,” says the combative midfielder. “I want to adapt to the speed of the game [in the Bundesliga] is played and become a more dynamic player.”

Bundesliga career statistics:
Appearances: 8
Goals: 0

On the verge of breaking into the Belgian national side, only a knee ligament injury prevented Junior Malanda from truly taking the Bundesliga by storm in the second half of last season. “It was hard for him,” admitted Dieter Hecking. Possessing incredible physical presence, vision and an eye for goal, Malanda has all the makings of a world class box-to-box midfielder, and he's keen to prove it this season on the back of an impressive pre-season: “If the coach gives me a chance, I’ll take it and do everything I can to help the team. I want to be more involved.”

Bundesliga career statistics:
Appearances: 7
Goals: 2

A relatively unheard of prospect before scoring six goals in six games at the UEFA U-19 European Championships, Selke, now with a DFB Cup goal to his name, appears ready to make his mark. “Davie has developed into one of our standout talents,” said head coach Robin Dutt of the full-blooded centre-forward, whose stature and natural goalscoring instincts could stand him in good stead in the first-team pecking order. “There’s a lot of hype surrounding him,” said sporting director Thomas Eichin. “If he’s good enough, he’ll play, and if not, we’ll get him there.”

Bundesliga career statistics:
Appearances: 3
Goals: 0

Vying for position with Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben is tough, but in opting to prevent Green going on loan, boss Pep Guardiola appears to have hinted that he might be on the verge of a breakthrough. "He was with us in the pre-season [last year] and we were really impressed with his talent, his movement towards goal," Guardiola said of the talented winger, who announced himself on the world stage by scoring in the USA’s 2-1 defeat to Belgium at the World Cup. "It’s never easy to break into the first team, but he deserves to try to keep going here.”

Bundesliga career statistics:
Appearances: 0
Goals: 0

Top 20 Under 20: Part 1