Xavi Simons, Jamal Musiala and the 5 youngsters to watch in 2023/24


The Bundesliga has long been known as the place to be for the most gifted young players in the game and this season is no exception, with the likes of Xavi Simons and Jamal Musiala set to light up the league.

bundesliga.com trains the microscope in five U21 players to keep a close eye on in 2023/24.

Xavi Simons
Club: RB Leipzig
Position: Attacking midfield
Age: 20
Country: Netherlands (four caps)

We start off with perhaps the most little-known of the five players on this list – but that does not mean he hasn’t already made an impact on the football scene. The Amsterdam-born, Barcelona-trained attacker is outrageously gifted with the ball at his feet. Standing at 5’10”, what Simons may lack in height to compete with towering defenders he more than makes up for with his close control, eye for and ability to thread a pass – as well as a ruthless streak in front of goal.

The 20-year-old spent last season on loan at PSV Eindhoven from Paris Saint-Germain and hit 19 goals in 34 Eredivisie appearances, while he added another in the UEFA Europa League. Although he is yet to test himself in the Champions League, Simons is already a full Netherlands international and should get plenty of opportunities to shine for Leipzig following the departures of fellow attackers Christopher Nkunku, Dominik Szoboszlai and Andre Silva.

Watch: Simons joins Leipzig

Jamal Musiala
Club: Bayern Munich
Position: Attacking midfield
Age: 20
Country: Germany (23 caps, one goal)

Still just 20, Musiala is already very much an established pro as he enters his fourth – yes, fourth! - full season at the record champions. With Thomas Müller currently injured and potentially missing the start of the campaign, Musiala is set to make the position behind the central striker his own in Bayern’s 4-2-3-1 formation – although even if Müller were fit Musiala would likely still start.

The agile playmaker, who is almost impossible to mark and tackle when he sets off on one of his trademark mazy dribbles, was Bayern’s leading goal contributor last season, scoring 12 himself and providing another 10 assists. He’s already played at a World Cup and European championship, and famously scored the winning goal in the last minute to seal Bayern’s Bundesliga title last term. It’s a scary thought to imagine what he might do in 2023/24 as he keeps improving…

Watch: All of Musiala's goals and assists in 2023/24

Florian Wirtz
Club: Bayer Leverkusen
Position: Attacking midfield
Age: 20
Country: Germany (eight caps)

Like Musiala, Wirtz is going into his fourth campaign as a senior professional. He missed the majority of the 2022 calendar year with a cruciate ligament tear, but on his return to the team he underlined just why he is already a full Germany international and regarded as one of the finest youngsters in the game, hitting a goal and six assists in 17 games.

Head coach Xabi Alonso has hailed the 20-year-old’s “ability to play between the lines, in a tight space and with good positioning. He’s got the quality to play the final ball.” So much so that it is arguably why Moussa Diaby was allowed to leave over the summer – a fully fit Wirtz throughout the season could well propel Leverkusen higher up the table following their sixth-placed finish last time out.

Watch: All of Wirtz's Bundesliga goals and assists

Youssoufa Moukoko
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Position: Striker
Age: 18
Country: Germany (two caps)

The Bundesliga’s youngest-ever player and scorer at just 16 years of age, it is hard to believe Moukoko is still only 18 – he’s already been on the scene for so long. The Cameroon-born forward has already played at a World Cup, in the Champions League, Europa League, DFB Cup and has 12 goals in 56 top-flight outings in Germany.

“Youssoufa is an extraordinary player, who we’ve trained up ourselves and still see a great deal of potential in,” said sporting director Sebastian Kehl when the forward signed a contract extension until 2026 in January this year. Dortmund are not short of options up front, but the only other recognised centre forward in the squad is Sebastien Haller, so Moukoko will certainly get his chances again under Edin Terzic this season.

Watch: The best of Moukoko in the Bundesliga

Mathys Tel
Club: Bayern Munich
Position: Centre forward
Age: 18
Country: France (six U19 caps, five goals)

Tel is perhaps the most intriguing of the fresh-faced greenhorns on this list, in terms of still having something to prove. Although he has made 37 top-flight appearances – seven for Rennes in Ligue 1 and 22 for Bayern last season – he is yet to establish himself as a first-team regular. However, his five Bundesliga goals, four of which came as a substitute, show that the French forward has potential to burn.

“We see his qualities, he has unbelievable explosiveness, is incredibly good in front of goal and with his shooting, his got that youthful unencumbered style of play … he’s done well a couple of times as a substitute and that’s his role for now,” said Thomas Tuchel last season.

Yet with Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting currently injured and no other centre forwards in the first-team squad, Tel should get plenty of time to strut his stuff this season, as Serge Gnabry - Choupo-Moting’s replacement at the tip of the Bayern spear -will not be able to play the full 90 minutes of every game in all competitions.