- Weigl and Dahoud two of the Bundesliga's most promising midfielders.
- Meyer and Sane already key players at Schalke.
- Tah a pillar of stability in the Leverkusen back four.
Head coaches, club scouts and football fans around the world are always seeking to unearth future superstars of the sport and in the Bundesliga, a league famed for its youth academies and the development of young talent, it is no different.
Which unheard of talent will be the name on everyone's lips? Who is the next Robert Lewandowski or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang? With the 2016/17 campaign fast approaching, bundesliga.com has a four-part series aimed at outlining the top 20 players, 20 years of age or younger, that you should be familiarising yourself with before the season gets underway...
Date of birth: 08/09/1995
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Position: Holding midfield
Bundesliga appearances so far: 30
Even the most celebrated of Bundesliga 'experts' could not have anticipated Julian Weigl waltzing straight into Borussia Dortmund's starting line-up, let alone the impact he made in his debut Bundesliga season. Comfortable working in tight spaces under pressure, the metronomic midfielder demonstrated intelligence and a decision-making ability beyond his years. His passing has even drawn comparisons with FC Barcelona's Sergio Busquets in the way they can eliminate a line of defence.
When you consider Weigl averaged 105 touches per 90 minutes, broke a Bundesliga record with 216 touches in BVB's 2-2 draw with 1. FC Köln and misplaced just eight per cent of his passes, it was no surprise he featured in Joachim Löw's 23-man squad for UEFA EURO 2016. While he did not feature in France, it would seem the sky is the limit for Weigl, for both club and country.
Date of birth: 18/09/1995
Club: FC Schalke 04
Position: Attacking midfield
Bundesliga appearances so far: 95
A symbol of FC Schalke 04's renowned Knappenschmiede academy, Max Meyer came of age in 2015/16. Benefitting from Julian Draxler's move to VfL Wolfsburg, the 20-year-old midfielder featured in 32 of the Royal Blues' 34 Bundesliga outings, contributing a personal best five goals and eight assists.
He largely operated on the left-hand side of midfield, but is arguably at his most influential when deployed in a more central role. Still only 20, it would not be a surprise to see new head coach Markus Weinzierl build his side around the homespun talent for years to come.
Date of birth: 01/01/1996
Club: Borussia Mönchengladbach
Position: Central midfield
Bundesliga appearances so far: 33
Mahmoud Dahoud did not need to score the winning goal in the Rhine derby against 1. FC Köln to endear himself to the Borussia Mönchengladbach faithful. After flirting with the starting XI under Lucien Favre at the start of 2015/16, the Syria-born midfielder became an integral part of Andre Schubert's mid-September remould.
By the end of the season, he had started more competitive games than any other Gladbach player, covered more ground per game than all but two Bundesliga representatives and finished third behind Lars Stindl and Raffael in Gladbach’s combined goals and assists chart. Not bad for a 20-year-old in his breakthrough season in the Bundesliga.
Date of birth: 11/01/1996
Club: FC Schalke 04
Position: Right wing
Bundesliga appearances so far: 47
Watch: Sane's Top 5 Bundesliga goals
With eight goals and as many assists, Leroy Sane was the Bundesliga's most prolific Under-21 player of the 2015/16 campaign. The 20-year-old also rattled off 68 attempts on goal – second at Schalke only to Klaas-Jan Huntelaar – had a direct hand in exactly half of all the Royal Blues' clear-cut chances and clocked a joint-league high sprint speed of 35km per hour.
Although he only made one substitute appearance for Germany at UEFA EURO 2016, it is difficult to see the virtuoso left-footer playing anything other than a starring role for club and country in the years ahead.
Date of birth: 11/02/1996
Club: Bayer 04 Leverkusen
Bundesliga appearances so far: 45
Germany international Christoph Kramer hit the nail on the head when he labelled Jonathan Tah as "a battleship". Following his summer 2015 transfer from Hamburger SV, the burly centre-back formed a formidable partnership at the heart of the Bayer 04 Leverkusen defence with Ömer Toprak, impressing with his positional awareness and tenacity in the tackle.
The statistics highlight his importance to the cause, with Leverkusen conceding more goals to opposition strikers in the five games without him (eight) compared to the 29 with him in the starting line-up (seven). Other than FC Bayern's Jerome Boateng and ex-Dortmund captain Mats Hummels, it is hard to think of many Bundesliga defenders who performed with such all-round consistency.