Jude Bellingham, Jamal Musiala and Gio Reyna are among the top 20 teenaged talents in the Bundesliga. - © DFL
Jude Bellingham, Jamal Musiala and Gio Reyna are among the top 20 teenaged talents in the Bundesliga. - © DFL
bundesliga

Jude Bellingham, Jamal Musiala, Gio Reyna and the top 20 teenagers to watch in the Bundesliga in 2021/22

Jude Bellingham, Jamal Musiala, Gio Reyna and Youssoufa Moukoko are not the only ones doing it for the kids in the Bundesliga. bundesliga.com picks out 20 players under the age of 20 to keep a very close eye on in the new season…

Jude Bellingham


Club: Borussia Dortmund
Age: 18

Position: Central midfielder

Good luck finding a more accomplished teenager central midfielder than Bellingham. The England international made running the show look like child's play during his debut season with Borussia Dortmund, and didn’t put a foot wrong at the UEFA 2020 Euros.

Watch: Bellingham's Bundesliga Mixtape

There’s scarcely a better candidate to succeed BVB teammate and reigning Golden Boy Erling Haaland as the best U21 footballer in one of Europe's top-flight leagues, per UEFA coefficient. Don’t be surprised if the youngest DFB Cup winner and Euros quarter-finalist one day inherits the captain’s armband for club and country.

Florian Wirtz

Club: Bayer Leverkusen
Age: 18

Position: Attacking midfielder

Florian Wirtz was instrumental in Germany U21s' 2021 Euro triumph, starting all three knockout games and scoring both goals against the Netherlands in the semi-finals. It was merely a continuation of some eye-catching performances across his first full season with the Bayer Leverkusen seniors - namely five goals and six assists in 29 top-flight appearances.

Watch: Wirtz rewrites Bundesliga history

What’s more, the midfielder became the first player to reach five Bundesliga goals before turning 18. And that after opening his account late in 2019/20, scoring past the great Manuel Neuer. A senior Germany debut is the next logical step for Kai Havertz’s natural successor.

Jamal Musiala

Club: Bayern Munich
Age: 18

Position: Attacking midfielder

Musiala was one of the breakout stars of the 2020/21 Bundesliga campaign, registering six goals and one assist, whilst becoming Bayern Munich's youngest ever UEFA Champions League scorer. England and Germany battled it out for his allegiance, with the teen ultimately plumping for his country of birth.

Jamal Musiala (l.) opened his Champions League account for Bayern against Lazio aged 17 years, 11 months and 29 days. - IMAGO / LaPresse

Musiala didn’t disappoint at Euro 2020 as he became Germany’s youngest player to appear at a major finals. Although Die Mannschaft went out to the Three Lions in the last 16, the former Chelsea youth player has time on his side and the necessary abundance of quality to redress the balance.

Gio Reyna

Club: Borussia Dortmund

Age: 18
Position: Attacking midfielder

Reyna set quite the bar in his first full season of Bundesliga football. The US international, who debuted in the German top flight during the second part of 2019/20, produced four goals and six assists, and also had a direct hand in four goals in the DFB Cup and Champions League.

Watch: Reyna: like father, and mother, like son

After continuing his scintillating form in the CONCACAF Nations League final, scoring one and making another to help the US beat Mexico after extra-time, the prodigious son of footballing parents needn’t have any concerns about emulating the creative genius that is Jadon Sancho.

Armel Bella-Kotchap

Club: Bochum
Position: Centre-back
Age: 19

Fans may not yet be too familiar with the name Armel Bella-Kotchap - avid Football Manager players aside - but there is a reason the developers at Sports Interactive rate the young defender's potential so highly. Already a fulcrum of Bochum's defence despite his tender 19 years, Bella-Kotchap started 26 games as Thomas Reis's side won Bundesliga 2 to seal a return to the top flight after a 12-year hiatus.

Armel Bella-Kotchap (l.) stopped Robert Lewandowski (r.) from scoring when Bochum met Bayern in the DFB Cup in October 2019. - IMAGO / MIS

Born in France as the son of former Cameroon international Cyrille Florent Bella, Bella-Kotchap has turned out exclusively for Germany at youth level so far. If he can help prove Die Unabsteigbaren are indeed "un-relegatable" next term, there could be a three way international tussle on for his services.

Youssoufa Moukoko

Club: Borussia Dortmund
Age: 16
Position: Striker

Already a scorer of some 127 goals for the Dortmund U17s and 19s, Moukoko wrote his name into the history books as the Bundesliga's youngest player, a day after his 16th Birthday. He became the Champions League's greenest debutant within a week, before overtaking Nuri Sahin as the youngest Bundesliga scorer, aged 16 years and 28 days.

Watch: Moukoko becomes the youngest scorer in Bundesliga history

Moukoko added two more top-flight strikes to his tally in the new year, only for a ligament injury to check his accelerated progress. Form and fitness are the usual caveats, but the Cameroon-born Germany youth international has declared himself fit for pre-season training so expect him to pick up where he left off - scoring goals and breaking records.

Tanguy Nianzou

Club: Bayern Munich
Age: 19
Position: Centre-back

Tanguy Nianzou managed just six substitute appearances in the 2020/21 Bundesliga due to injury, but it’ll take more than a few physical set-backs to ruffle the feathers of a young defender held in such high regard that Thomas Tuchel handed him his Champions League debut at 17.

Tanguy Nianzou wants to make up for lost time after missing seven months last season with a hamstring complaint. - Handout/FC Bayern via Getty Images

The departures of Jerome Boateng and Javi Martinez offer the 2019 Paris Saint-Germain youth academy's Player of the Year a route to regular first-team minutes in a Bayern shirt in the season ahead, while new coach Julian Nagelsmann’s player whisperer reputation can only be beneficial to his development.

Ansgar Knauff

Club: Borussia Dortmund
Position: Winger
Age: 19

Dortmund are incredibly well-stocked in the wide attacking areas in and around central striker Haaland - having Marco Reus, Sancho, Reyna, Thorgan Hazard and Julian Brandt in the same squad would be the envy of most of world football - but Ansgar Knauff has already shown he can mix it with the big boys.

Ansgar Knauff (l.) was given the nod to start home and away against Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals last season. - IMAGO / PA Images

Spotted by Jürgen Klopp at a youth football tournament when he was 12, Knauff made his senior debut for Die Schwarzgelben against Cologne in March, and duly assisted Haaland for the equaliser in a 2-2 draw. He scored his first goal when the Norwegian returned the favour in a 3-2 win over VfB Stuttgart a month later, and inbound coach Marco Rose should relish the prospect of having Knauff to call upon, regardless of who else is at the club.

Lazar Samardzic

Club: RB Leipzig
Position: Attacking midfielder
Age: 19

A 2019 U17 Fritz Walter bronze medalist - an annual prize given to the best young players in Germany - Lazar Samardzic first caught the eye whilst playing for the Hertha Berlin youths. The cultured midfielder with Serbian roots registered 14 goals and nine assists for the U19s, before being taken under Nagelsmann's wing at RB Leipzig last season.

Lazar Samardzic (r.) assisted Angelino (l.) when Leipzig beat Arminia Bielefeld 2-1 last November. - IMAGO / Christian Schroedter

Samardzic has produced one assist in 12 senior appearances for Leipzig to date, his ability to play in wide and central attacking roles affording him game time in the Bundesliga and DFB Cup, as well as a squad inclusion in the Champions League. Expect the steady upward trend for a player reportedly once courted by Barcelona to continue on new Leipzig coach Jesse Marsch’s watch.

Luca Netz

Club: Hertha Berlin
Position: Left-back
Age: 18

Luca Netz is the latest in a growing line of homegrown talents to break through at Hertha. Having played for the club he joined as a 10-year-old at every youth level, the capital-born teen made 11 Bundesliga appearances between January and March 2021, opening his account from the bench in a 1-1 draw with Stuttgart.

Luca Netz (r.) overtook Kevin-Prince Boateng as Hertha Berlin's youngest ever scorer when he found the target against Stuttgart last term. - IMAGO / Michael Weber

With Hertha boss Pal Dardai not completely sold on Marvin Plattenhardt and Maximilian Mittelstädt in the left-back position, Netz shouldn’t be short of first-team chances, once he recovers from the metatarsal fracture that curtailed his debut top-flight campaign.

Georginio Rutter

Club: Hoffenheim
Position: Forward
Age: 19

Not long after scoring on his UEFA Champions League debut for Rennes in a 3-1 losing effort to Sevilla, Georginio Rutter made the winter switch to Hoffenheim. He was on target three minutes into his Bundesliga debut - one of nine appearances handed out to the France youth international during the latter part of the 2020/21 season.

France U18 forward Georginio Rutter (no.33) will look to build on his blossoming partnership with Andrej Kramaric in 2021/22. - IMAGO / Avanti

Rutter also registered two goals and assists in six outings for the reserves in Germany's fourth tier, but is expected to play exclusively for the pros in the coming campaign as Hoffenheim attempt to lighten the load on record scorer Andrej Kramaric.

Jan Thielmann

Club: Cologne
Position: Forward
Age: 19

It’s approaching two years since Jan Thielmann made history as the first player born in 2002 to feature in the Bundesliga. His first goal followed 12 months on in a 2-2 draw with Wolfsburg - his second effectively consigned Schalke to the drop and ultimately proved the difference between Cologne joining them and surviving via the relegation play-offs.

Watch: Highlights of Cologne's Thielmann-inspired 2-1 win over Schalke

“I can still remember his debut,” recalled Cologne’s former managing director Horst Heldt earlier this year, after Germany U19 international Thielmann signed a new contract through to summer 2024. “He’s still working hard to improve, all whilst studying for his high-school exams. He’s a role model for all young players wanting to make the step up to the pros."

Bartosz Bialek

Club: Wolfsburg
Position: Striker
Age: 19

The last time Wolfsburg qualified for the Champions League, in 2015, they had Bas Dost, Max Kruse, Andre Schürrle and Niklas Bendtner on their books. This time around, Wout Weghorst is their only striker who has scaled similar career heights, but such is the faith the Wolves have in young cub Bartosz Bialek.

Bartosz Bialek's return from a cruciate ligament injury sustained in April will be a welcome one for his Wolfsburg teammates. - IMAGO / regios24

Like the club's 25-goal top scorer last term, Bialek cuts an imposing figure at 6'3"-tall, and his well-taken goals against Werder Bremen and Mainz either side of Christmas suggest the young Pole could also have a similar gift for goals if given the chance.

Marco John

Club: Hoffenheim
Position: Left midfielder
Age: 19

With Robert Skov already on the books and Ryan Sessegnon signed on loan from Tottenham Hotspur last season, Germany U19 left-footer Marco John might have been forgiven for bracing himself for a season on the bench at best.

Marco John (l.) and Chris Richards (r.) formed a promising left side for Hoffenheim in the Rückrunde. - IMAGO / Sportfoto Rudel

Eighteen games, five clean sheets and two assists in all competitions from left wing-back later, and Skov finds himself restored to the right-hand side of the Hoffenheim attack, while Sessegnon has been allowed to return to north London.

Naouirou Ahamada

Club: VfB Stuttgart
Position: Defensive midfielder
Age: 19

A Juventus youth product, Marseille-born Naouirou Ahamada joined Stuttgart on loan last October, where he initially acted as understudy to central midfield pair Wataru Endo and Orel Mangala. Strong on both sides of the ball, Ahamada loves nothing better than winning it back, turning on the jets to beat the press before concluding with a simple pass.

Eye on the prize: Naouirou Ahamada should add to his 253 Bundesliga minutes next term. - IMAGO / Pressefoto Baumann

A France youth international, Ahamada split his time between the first team and the reserves last term, but now his loan deal has been made permanent, you can expect to see more of him in 2021/22, especially if sporting director Sven Mislintat is to be believed. "We're convinced that he maintains the footballing quality and mentality to take the next steps in his development and quickly become a member of our professional squad," he said.

Rocco Reitz

Club: Borussia Mönchengladbach
Position: Central midfielder
Age: 19

Rocco Reitz spent the 2020/21 season split between the Borussia Mönchengladbach U19s, reserves, seniors and treatment room. Despite a nagging muscular complaint, the Gladbach youth product still managed 17 appearances, including two in the Bundesliga

He may only stand at 5'7", but the same short twitch fibres that have given him injury trouble allow Rocco Reitz to catch some serious air. - Alex Grimm/Getty Images

“I have full faith in him,” said former Gladbach head coach Rose following Reitz’s top-flight debut - a 60-minute outing from the start in a 3-2 win over Mainz. “He can expect plenty more where that came, simply because he’s good enough.”

Melayro Bogarde

Club: Hoffenheim
Position: Centre-back
Age: 19

The nephew of former Ajax, Barcelona and Netherlands star Winston Bogarde, Melayro joined Hoffenheim from Feyenoord's fabled youth academy in 2018. A year later, he was part of the Dutch U17 team that won their age group's European Championship in Ireland, later being voted into UEFA's Team of the Tournament.

A centre-back by trade, Melayro Bogarde (r.) could even provide cover for Pavel Kaderabek (l.) at wing-back next season. - IMAGO / Jan Huebner

He has had to bide his time in comparative terms at Hoffenheim, but 14 outings in all competitions last term hints at the faith coach Sebastian Hoeneß has in the youngster, and the fact Bogarde - nominally a centre-back - can also play out wide and in midfield means his quest for more minutes in 2021/22 could be a fruitful one.

Marton Dardai

Club: Hertha Berlin
Position: Centre-back
Age: 19

Football is in Marton Dardai’s blood. Father Pal is Hertha’s current head coach and record appearance-maker, brothers Palko and Bence are club youth products, while his late uncle was also a professional footballer.

Father Pal Dardai (l.) may have turned out 61 times for Hungary, but Berli0n-born Marton Dardai (r.) has 17 youth caps for Germany. - IMAGO / Otto Krschak

Twelve Bundesliga appearances into his still-young career, there’s reason to believe Marton is ahead of the family curve. The 19-year-old started nine of Hertha’s final 13 league matches of 2020/21, helping the Old Lady beat the drop on the back of a nine-game unbeaten run that included four clean sheets.

Momo Cisse

Club: VfB Stuttgart
Position: Winger
Age: 18

Mislintat knows a thing or two about untapped potential. 'Diamond Eye' is credited with unearthing the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Ousmane Dembele and Christian Pulisic at Dortmund - and continues to work his magic at Stuttgart.

Pellegrino Matarazzo (l.) has an exciting understudy for Silas on the right flank in the shape of Momo Cisse (r.). - IMAGO / Pressefoto Baumann

Taking his lead from 2020/21 standouts Borna Sosa, Silas Katompa Mvumpa and Sasa Kalajdzic, Momo Cisse could be the south-west club’s next breakout star. Five substitute appearances towards the back-end of the previous campaign suggest the Guinean teen - signed from France’s Le Havre in summer 2020 - is on the right path.

Tim Civeja

Club: Augsburg
Position: Central midfielder
Age: 19

Tim Civeja doesn’t only have great hair. The industrious midfielder made his Bundesliga debut within weeks of his 19th Birthday, replacing Rani Khedira late in a 2-0 defeat to Bremen last January.

Now a Germany youth international, Tim Civeja was eight before football overtook piano as his primary extracurricular pastime. - Matthias Kern/Getty Images for DFB

Civeja - who has been on the Augsburg books since 2015 and is a Germany youth international - made further cameos in top-flight encounters with Dortmund and Wolfsburg, and would surely have made more but for a recurring pubic bone injury.