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....

The Royal Blues may just have found a solution to their long-standing defensive issues in Ayhan, a versatile defensive all-rounder who has already covered at centre-back, left-back and defensive midfield for the Royal Blues, and the Knappenschmiede graduate wants to “build on that success” this season season. “It’s definitely not a drawback if you’re flexible as an individual,” claimed Ayhan. “The competition for places is big, but I'll give it my all to play as much as possible.”

Bundesliga career statistics:
Appearances: 14
Goals: 1

The sole bright spark during Leverkusen's disappointing end to the 2013/14 campaign, Brandt's rapid rise to prominence is showing no signs of slowing down. Being crowned a European champion kept him out of pre-season, but new head coach Roger Schmidt, a man known for his desire to promote young talent, still has plans for the winger, who names Marco Reus as his idol. "He plays in the same position as me," chuckles Brandt. "When I take to the field I'm not thinking about pressure, I want to have fun."

Bundesliga career statistics:
Appearances: 12
Goals: 2

Though restricted to just ten league outings last term - eight of which ended in defeat for the capital city side - Mukhtar’s ability has not gone unnoticed. “Hany isn’t far off [a place in the starting line-up],” Jos Luhukay said of the two-footed midfielder, who scored the winning goal in the UEFA European Under-19 Championships final. He is yet to demonstrate his flashes of brilliance seen at youth level, but Hertha are nontheless determined to keep hold of him. “Hany is staying in Berlin!” sporting director Michael Preetz confirmed recently.

Bundesliga career statistics:
Appearances: 10
Goals: 0

A torn cruciate knee ligament resulted in a near year-long absence for Stendera last season, but on the back of triumphing with the German U-19s, the diminutive midfielder could become first-team regular under Thomas Schaaf. “My aim is to get as much game time under my belt as possible.” His abundance of potential was on display as he operated as the attacking fulcrum for Sorg's team in Hungary, and after the departures of Pirmin Schwegler and Sebastian Rode, his chances of making a breakthrough have never been better.

Bundesliga career statistics:
Appearances: 10
Goals: 0

Grandson of legendary Bundesliga goalscorer Uwe Seeler (137 goals in 237 Bundesliga appearances for Hamburger SV), Öztunali finished his A-Level equivalents and won the UEFA Under-19 European Championships with Germany this summer. Now he has his sights set on breaking into Leverkusen’s midfield. “There’s a lot of quality in the side,” admitted Bayer 04's youngest ever debutant. “There are plenty of experienced players here and you can learn just by observing them."

Bundesliga career statistics:
Appearances: 9
Goals: 0

Top 20 Under 20: Part 1 | Part 2