Assan Ouédraogo has been making headlines after bursting onto the scene at Schalke. But who exactly is the 17-year-old junior World Cup winner? Here, bundesliga.com gives you the lowdown...
Data correct as of 3 December 2023
Age: 17 (born 9 May 2006)
Position: Central midfielder
Country: Germany (23 youth caps, two goals)
Despite not turning 18 until the end of the 2023/24 campaign, Ouédraogo has forced his way into Schalke's first team, starting seven of their first 11 Bundesliga 2 games this campaign prior to heading off to the U17 World Cup. The Müllheim an der Ruhr native is a local boy, and has been on Die Königsblauen's books since 2014. He shone bright as early as the 2021/22 term, when he scored seven and provided eight assists in 15 outings for Schalke's U17s as they were crowned German champions, and he continued that form at U19 level, netting seven in 13 matches in all competitions during 2022/23.
Even at the tender age of 17 years and 80 days, he was ready to make his senior bow and, although Schalke lost 5-3 to Hamburg on the opening day of this term, Ouédraogo was on the scoresheet, beating Julian Draxler's record as the club's youngest-ever goalscorer on the same day he became the youngest player in their history. Shortly prior to this campaign, the teenager impressed at international level, too, starting four of Germany's six matches as they clinched the U17 European Championships - the 6'3" ace scored in the semi-final triumph over Poland and played from start to finish in that clash and the final against France. Those displays contributed to him picking up the bronze Fritz Walter Award medal behind teammates Paris Brunner and Noah Darvich.
Ouédraogo went into the U17 World Cup in 2023 as one of Germany's biggest stars, and while an injury problem meant he could only make two brief appearances at the finals in Indonesia, he can still proudly call himself a World Cup winner.
Plays a bit like... Xabi Alonso and Michael Essien
Ouédraogo may still be at the start of his career, but he plays the game with experience and composure that belie his age, and he has already shown he has plenty of strings to his bow. While he may not quite possess the passing range of Bayer Leverkusen head coach Alonso, Schalke's starlet likes to drop deep and build attacks from there. However, he is at his best when using his explosive pace and power to break the lines like Essien did at his peak, and his goalscoring record suggests he could add goals to his game as well.
Did you know?
Assan is the son of former professional Alassane, who earned 62 caps for Burkina Faso during a career that spanned two decades. After starting his career at Sporting Charleroi in Belgium, the right midfielder moved to Cologne, where he made three Bundesliga appearances before embarking on a lower-league career that saw him make stops at Rot-Weiß Oberhausen, TuS Koblenz and Rot-Weiss Essen, featuring 70 times in the Bundesliga 2 along the way.
What they're saying
"He has everything, game intelligence, speed, teamwork, goal threat and he can play the final pass.” - Schalke legend Olaf Thon.
“With Assan you have a real gem. Hats off! Good boy. A really good player." - Hamburg manager Fritz Walter following Ouédraogo's debut.
“He is a wonderfull footballer with a lot of talent. He was integrated immediately because he is completely convincing in terms of his sporting ability." - Schalke sporting director André Hechelmann.
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