Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig loanees will have the chance to impress in Bundesliga 2 this season. - © DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga
Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig loanees will have the chance to impress in Bundesliga 2 this season. - © DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga
2. Bundesliga

Top 10 U21 players to watch in Bundesliga 2 for 2022/23

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There will be no shortage of quality and also potential once again in the 2022/23 Bundesliga 2 season. From those young players on loan from Bundesliga clubs to those who’ve come through the academies of teams in the second division, there are a number of players who we could be seeing a lot more of in the coming years.

With the campaign about to kick off, bundesliga.com introduces 10 U21 players who could make waves in the 2022/23 Bundesliga 2 season…

Armindo Sieb
Age:
19
Club:
Greuther Fürth
Position:
Forward

Greuther Fürth may have been relegated from the Bundesliga last year, but they’ve taken some potential top-flight quality with them in the form of Bayern Munich’s Armindo Sieb. The 19-year-old is a modern attacker, capable of playing anywhere across the front line and using both feet. The Halle native has previously come through the youth teams at RB Leipzig and Hoffenheim before spending three years in Munich, where he mostly played for the reserves in the third and fourth division, but also made one senior appearance in the 2020/21 DFB Cup first round against Düren, under Hansi Flick. Already physically strong and nimble, he now has a chance to make a breakthrough at professional level for a Fürth side who were promoted the last time they played in Bundesliga 2.

Armindo Sieb has his eye on first-team experience at Greuther Fürth after leaving Bayern Munich. - IMAGO/Sportfoto Zink / Melanie Zink/IMAGO/Zink

Sidney Raebiger
Age:
17
Club:
Greuther Fürth
Position:
Central midfield

Fürth have also taken on another starlet in the form of 17-year-old Sidney Raebiger, who sporting director Rachid Azzouzi described as “one of Germany’s best young players” when he penned a three-year deal. Although born in Freiburg, the central midfielder joined Leipzig in 2015 and was already training with the first team at the age of 15. Competition for places at the DFB Cup holders meant he managed only two senior appearances, so the Clover Leaves made their move for the U17 international seeking first-team experience as they themselves look to rebuild for the future under new boss Marc Schneider.

Teenager Sidney Raebiger is looking to pull the strings at Fürth after a move from RB Leipzig. - IMAGO/Sportfoto Zink / Wolfgang Zink/IMAGO/Zink

Burak Ince
Age:
18
Club:
Arminia Bielefeld
Position:
Central midfield

The decision to bring Burak Ince to the SchücoArena from Altinordu in January was made looking ahead to this new season, with sporting director Samir Arabi explaining it would allow the Turkish midfielder to “acclimatise calmly and settle in at Arminia”. The teenager’s preferred position is in central midfield, but he can also play out wide or further forward. He made five Bundesliga appearances in 2021/22, but the club’s relegation means the technically gifted teenager, who is also a good deliverer of set pieces, can find his feet in Germany’s second division as Bielefeld join Fürth in attempting to bounce straight back to the top flight.

Burak Ince got a taste of the Bundesliga last season, but is now set for a breakthrough with Arminia Bielefeld in the second tier. - IMAGO / Jürgen Schwarz

Ransford-Yeboah Königsdörffer
Age:
20
Club:
Hamburg
Position:
Striker

Hamburg are also desperate to get back to the big time after four near-misses in their promotion pushes, so they’ve sought more firepower up front with the signing of Ransford-Yeboah Königsdörffer after he caught the eye at Dynamo Dresden last season. Although his five goals and two assists were unable to prevent their immediate return to the 3. Liga, the Germany U21 international – who is now reported to have switched international allegiance to Ghana, the country of his father – was often the standout man with his agility and dynamism up front. The former Hertha Berlin youth player is also one of the top young talents on FM22, and now has an even greater chance to shine at the Volksparkstadion.

Ransford-Yeboah Königsdörffer has joined HSV after an impressive Bundesliga 2 campaign with Dynamo Dresden. - IMAGO/osnapix/IMAGO/osnapix

Igor Matanovic
Age:
19
Club:
St. Pauli (on loan from Eintracht Frankfurt)
Position:
Striker

The best performance in Igor Matanovic’s still young career came on the penultimate matchday of last season when he smashed a brace in the first 17 minutes at Schalke. Although St. Pauli would go on to lose and miss out on promotion, that could be a blessing in disguise for the 19-year-old former Germany youth and now Croatia U21 international. He goes into the second season of his two-year loan back to his boyhood club from Eintracht Frankfurt and now has to take on the mantle of attacking leader after the departure of Guido Burgstaller. Three goals in 36 Bundesliga 2 appearances is a tentative start, but he’s been hampered by injuries. Can he sign off from the Millerntor having fired them to promotion and face his hometown club in the Bundesliga next year when he finally makes the full move to Frankfurt?

Igor Matanovic bagged a famous brace for St. Pauli against Schalke last season. - IMAGO/UWE KRAFT/IMAGO/Uwe Kraft

Jens Castrop
Age:
18
Club:
Nuremberg (on loan from Cologne)
Position:
Attacking midfield

Born in Düsseldorf to a German father and South Korean mother, Jens Castrop swapped the Fortuna academy for local rivals Cologne as a 12-year-old and has worked his way through the youth teams. The midfielder has been on an 18-month loan at Nuremberg as of January and is now earmarked as the replacement for Schalke-bound Tom Krauß, with Der Club seeing similar levels of potential in the teenager. He caught the eye last season with a goal for the Nuremberg reserves after sprinting the length of the pitch, but he isn’t just about pace. Aggression and bite mean he’s earned the nickname 'Arturo' from his teammates. Yes, that’s from ex-Bayern and Bayer Leverkusen man Arturo Vidal.

On-loan Jens Castrop (r.) is earmarked for a place in the Nuremberg midfield. - Sportfoto Zink / Wolfgang Zink via www.imago-images.de/imago images/Zink

Antonio Foti
Age:
18
Club:
Hannover (on loan from Eintracht Frankfurt)
Position:
Central midfield

Bulgaria-born Cyprus youth international Antonio Foti has been on the books at Frankfurt since 2020 and regularly trained with the first team whilst mostly running out for the U19s. He boasted an impressive record at that level last season with 17 goals in 19 games, despite being a central midfielder. The teenager begins a two-year loan at the HDI-Arena as he takes his first steps into professional football and will be allowed time to adapt, according to Hannover sporting director Marcus Mann. But there are still expectations that Foti will make his mark this season.

Antonio Foti is beginning a two-year loan deal at Hannover from Eintracht Frankfurt. - IMAGO/Michael Taeger/IMAGO/Jan Huebner

Paul Nebel
Age:
19
Club:
Karlsruhe (on loan from Mainz)
Position:
Forward

Paul Nebel has 13 Bundesliga appearances to his name for Mainz, but only two starts among them. With two years left on his contract, the forward has been given a chance to gain experience and prove himself in Bundesliga 2 with Karlsruhe. Sporting director Oliver Kreuzer believes the 19-year-old is “hugely talented” and can “play on both wings, behind the striker, and prove his strengths with his speed everywhere”.

Paul Nebel is another Bundesliga loanee looking for playing time in the second division, this time at Karlsruhe. - IMAGO/Sven Severing/IMAGO/Jan Huebner

Abu-Bekir El-Zein
Age:
19
Club:
Sandhausen
Position:
Forward

Fresh from winning the U19 Bundesliga, reaching the DFB Youth final and the UEFA Youth League quarter-finals with Borussia Dortmund, scoring nine goals, Abu-Bekir El-Zein has decided it’s time to take the step up to professional level and signed for Sandhausen. “Abu has huge potential and now it’s about getting that out,” said his new coach Alois Schwartz. “He’s very assured on the ball for his age, has good vision, and I think there’s even more to come if he keeps it up in men’s football.”

Abu-Bekir El-Zein played a big part in Borussia Dortmund U19s' big season last year. - TEAM2sportphoto via www.imago-images.de/imago images/Team 2

Jamie Lawrence
Age:
19
Club:
Magdeburg (on loan from Bayern Munich)
Position:
Centre-back

Jamie Lawrence faces a tough job breaking through into the Bayern defence, but the club recently extended his contract till 2026 and deployed him on a two-year loan to promoted Magdeburg to gain experience at a level above the reserves. Standing at a massive 6’7’’, the centre-back has been on the books at Bayern since 2017 – two of his siblings also play basketball for the club – so offers an imposing figure at the back. “But we aren’t just getting the height. Jamie has huge qualities on the ball and very good build-up play,” said Magdeburg sporting director Ottmar Schork on confirming the deal.

The towering Jamie Lawrence has extended his contract at Bayern, but now has two years to prove himself at Magdeburg. - IMAGO/Christian Schroedter/IMAGO/Christian Schroedter