Joe Scally, Jude Bellingham, Alphonso Davies, Kerem Calhanoglu and Jamal Musiala (l.-r.) are among the youngsters expected to shine in the Bundesliga this coming season. - © 2022 DFL
Joe Scally, Jude Bellingham, Alphonso Davies, Kerem Calhanoglu and Jamal Musiala (l.-r.) are among the youngsters expected to shine in the Bundesliga this coming season. - © 2022 DFL
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Alphonso Davies, Jude Bellingham, Jamal Musiala and the Bundesliga’s top 21 U21 players

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The Bundesliga has long been known as a hotbed for the best talented youngsters in the world – the likes of Alphonso Davies, Jude Bellingham and Jamal Musiala chief among them – but who else might shine in 2022/23?

bundesliga.com looks at the top 21 U21 players set to line up in Germany’s top flight in the coming season…

Karim Adeyemi
Age: 20
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Position: Forward
Country: Germany (four caps, one goal)

Robert Lewandowski, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Erling Haaland… Dortmund’s love affair with prolific strikers goes back a long way – and it looks set to continue in 2022/23 with the arrival of Adeyemi from Red Bull Salzburg. Already a full Germany international, the Munich native posted 18 goals and seven assists in 30 games in all competitions last season, including three and two respectively in six UEFA Champions League appearances. Blessed with pace to burn and an incredible composure in front of goal, the prospect of him linking up with Gio Reyna, Jude Bellingham, Jamie Bynoe-Gittens (see below), as well as Marco Reus and Julian Brandt is a tantalising one for Dortmund fans ahead of the new campaign.

Faride Alidou
Age: 20
Club: Eintracht Frankfurt
Position: Winger
Country: Germany (four U21 caps)

A Hamburg youth academy graduate, Alidou enjoyed a brilliant breakout debut season with the first team in Bundesliga 2 in 2021/22, his fearless displays full of direct running, trickery and – vitally – end product all helping HSV reach the promotion play-offs. His two goals and eight assists in 23 league appearances persuaded Frankfurt to swoop for him, and the youngster will form part of an exciting attacking line-up under Oliver Glasner this term. Although naturally right-footed, Alidou prefers to operate on the left wing, and with Eintracht playing in the UEFA Champions League this season, he will no doubt have plenty of opportunities to shine.

Faride Alidou got the thumbs up for his performances last season, earning a move from Hamburg to Eintracht Frankfurt. - KBS-Picture Kalle Meincke via www.imago-images.de/imago images/KBS-Picture

Jude Bellingham
Age: 18
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Position: Centre midfield
Country: England (15 caps)

If you can be a first-team regular in central midfield at one of the biggest clubs on the planet by the time you are 18 then clearly you are no ordinary player. “I love the way he plays football,” said Marco Rose, Dortmund’s head coach last season. “He’s an aggressive player who does so much for the team but also plays football with such confidence for his relative young age.” No wonder, then, that he gave Bellingham more Bundesliga minutes than anyone else at BVB last season – and the England international repaid him in kind: he finished the campaign in the top three league-wide for duels won (433), sprints (922) and intensive runs (2633); in the top 14 for overall distance covered (208.8 miles / 336.1 km); and top 30 for pass completion (85.9 percent). Not only that, but the midfielder also chipped in with three goals – including an absolute worldie against Arminia Bielefeld - and eight assists.

Watch: The best of Bellingham's Bundesliga goals and assists

Jonathan Burkardt
Age: 21
Club: Mainz
Position: Forward
Country: Germany (20 U21 caps, 10 goals)

Burkardt enjoyed a coming-of-age campaign in 2021/22. The striker had previously only scored three Bundesliga goals in 41 appearances spread across three seasons, but ended up with 11 more in 34 outings last term – including strikes against Bayern and Dortmund. Indeed, that tally made him the fourth-highest German scorer in the league, behind just Serge Gnabry, Jonas Hofmann and Max Kruse. “He’s developed really well,” said Mainz head coach Bo Svensson. “We always knew he would - it was just a question of when. Even when he wasn’t scoring he was still playing well, although that’s not something the public tend to see. He’s taken some steps in the right direction, but he’s not done yet.” Could the Germany U21 international force his way into Hansi Flick’s World Cup squad? If he shows the same kind of ruthlessness as last season, there’s no reason why not.

Jamie Bynoe-Gittens
Age: 17
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Position: Left wing
Country: England (one U18 cap)

What is it with Dortmund and gifted young English players? Jadon Sancho forged the path, Bellingham followed it and now it seems Bynoe-Gittens is laying the tarmac in confirming Signal Iduna Park as THE place to be. The winger has been in Dortmund since September 2020 but only made his Bundesliga debut on Matchday 30 last season in the 6-1 thrashing of Wolfsburg. That was the first of four top-flight outings to date, while Bynoe-Gittens was also given his first start against Bochum on Matchday 32, impressing former boss Rose in the process: “He justified his place in the line-up.” A pacy winger boasting skills, tricks and no little self-belief, it is surely just a matter of time before he is a regular on the Dortmund team sheet. “Playing without fear is my thing, it’s part of my personality,” he said. “Believing in yourself is the most important thing.”

Watch: Julian Brandt: "Bynoe-Gittens has everything"

Kerim Calhanoglu
Age: 19
Club: Schalke
Position: Left-back
Country: Germany (two U20 caps)

If the surname sounds familiar it’s because it is: the Schalke defender is a cousin of former Bayer Leverkusen and current Inter Milan midfielder Hakan. Schalke are famed for their youth work, having produced the likes of Manuel Neuer, Leroy Sane and Mesut Özil, among others, and they look to have unearthed another gem in Calhanoglu. The 19-year-old made four top-flight appearances in 2020/21 and although he was on the fringes of the first team for much of last season, he established himself in the latter part of the campaign. Solid, reliable and quick, there is plenty to like and it is no wonder he is already a crowd favourite at the VELTINS-Arena.

Kerim Calhanoglu will be looking to cement his place in the Schalke first team in 2022/23. - Oliver Hardt/Bundesliga/Bundesliga Collection via Getty Images

Alphonso Davies
Age: 21
Club: Bayern Munich
Position: Left-back, left wing
Country: Canada (30 caps, 10 goals)

Once dubbed Bayern’s “get-out-of-jail-free card” by former head coach Hansi Flick due to his pace and ability to recover his position, Davies is a key cog in the Bayern machine. Already a four-time Bundesliga winner – with the Champions League also in his trophy collection – the Canada international is the most decorated player on this list. His tireless running up and down the left wing is a constant headache for opposition defenders, as are his pinpoint crosses into the box. The 21-year-old only featured 21 times in the Bundesliga last season due to injury and illness, but should be back to his unstoppable best for the new campaign.

Watch: Davies' ups and downs

Jeremie Frimpong
Age: 21
Club: Bayer Leverkusen
Position: Right-back
Country: Netherlands (four U21 caps)

Frimpong made the right-back position his own at the BayArena last time out, his marauding attacking instincts dovetailing seamlessly with the eye-catching brand of football employed by head coach Gerardo Seoane. The U21 Netherlands international started 25 of Die Werkself’s first 26 Bundesliga games last term, contributing one goal and six assists before a serious knee injury cut his campaign short. As impressive as that is, Seoane appreciated the defender’s ability at stopping goals just as much. “I think he’s very focused and disciplined in his defensive work. There are always things you can improve but he’s definitely an asset for us.”

Jeremie Frimpong was a brilliant outlet going forward for Bayer Leverkusen in 2021/22. - Eibner-Pressefoto via www.imago-images.de/imago images/Eibner

Ryan Gravenberch
Age: 20
Club: Bayern Munich
Position: Central midfielder
Country: Netherlands (10 caps, one goal)

A product of Ajax’s famed youth academy, Gravenberch has exquisite technique to go with an intimidating physical presence and all-day stamina. He has only just turned 20 but was a mainstay in the Dutch champions’ side last term, posting two goals and five assists in 30 league outings, while he is also a member of the senior Netherlands team. Whether or not he can oust Joshua Kimmich or Leon Goretzka for a regular place in the Bayern side remains to be seen, but he is certain to provide stiff competition for a spot in central midfield.

Josko Gvardiol
Age: 20
Club: RB Leipzig
Position: Centre-back, left-back
Country: Croatia (10 caps, one goal)

With his full beard, grizzly demeanour and no-nonsense approach to defending, you could be forgiven for thinking Gvardiol was a battle-hardened veteran of the game. In reality, however, he won’t turn 21 until January next year. Still, he exudes the authority and composure of a much older player, which is perhaps why he became an instant hit in his first season at Leipzig last year. Indeed, only Peter Gulacsi, Christopher Nkunku and Willi Orban played more Bundesliga minutes for Die Roten Bullen last term than Gvardiol, while he was 16th in the division overall for duels won (336), and in the top 30 for passing accuracy (over 85 percent). Head coach Domenico Tedesco hailed the centre-back’s “mental strength” as among his chief attributes, so expect more of the same from the Croatia international in 2022/23.

Adam Hlozek
Age
: 19
Club: Bayer Leverkusen
Position: Forward / winger / attacking midfielder
Country: Czech Republic (14 caps, one goal)

With 40 goals and 36 assists in 132 senior appearances at boyhood club Sparta Prague, there was an understandable buzz surrounding the teenager before Leverkusen won the race to sign him this summer. Standing at 6’2” he is an imposing presence in attack, where he is able to play across a variety of positions, and has pace and power in abundance as he looks to drive forward whenever the opportunity arises. “His finishing will give our attack more variation,” said Leverkusen sporting director Simon Rolfes of the newcomer, who is set to form a prolific partnership with fellow Czech international Patrik Schick at the BayArena.

Adam Hlozek is set to add further variation to Bayer Leverkusen's attack in the coming season. - IMAGO/Vit Simanek/IMAGO/CTK Photo

Ansgar Knauff
Age: 20
Club: Eintracht Frankfurt
Position: Wing-back, attacking midfield
Country: Germany (five U21 caps, one goal)

Frankfurt’s attack had been somewhat lopsided for a number of years, with forward forays tending to go via Filip Kostic on the left. However, that all changed following Knauff’s arrival on an 18-month loan from Dortmund in January 2022. “He’s a very talented German youth international,” said Glasner at the time. “We’re expecting him to provide speed and a goal threat for us.” The head coach’s words proved prophetic, with Knauff playing in 12 Bundesliga games for the Eagles in the second half of the season, eventually becoming first choice at right wing-back. He was hugely influential in Frankfurt’s run to Europa League glory, scoring against both Barcelona and West Ham en route to beating Rangers in the final, and was named as the competition's Young Player of the Season. He’ll be eager to kick on again this term, and is an outside candidate to make Germany’s World Cup squad.

Marcel Lotka
Age: 21
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Position: Goalkeeper
Country: Poland (two U21 caps)

Lotka began last season as Hertha Berlin’s fourth-choice goalkeeper, but was thrust into the spotlight in the second half of the campaign when the stars aligned (for him at least) with injuries to the three stoppers above him in the pecking order. He filled the void with such authority and calmness that he retained his place even when his competitors returned to fitness, eventually making 10 Bundesliga appearances to help the Old Lady retain their top-flight status. A move to Dortmund was finalised over the summer and although Gregor Kobel remains the undisputed No.1 at Signal Iduna Park, the departures of fellow custodians Roman Bürki and Marwin Hitz have opened the door for Lotka to stake his claim.

Youssoufa Moukoko
Age: 17
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Position: Forward
Country: Germany (four U21 caps, six goals)

Youngest ever Bundesliga player? Check. Youngest ever Bundesliga scorer? Check. Moukoko broke record after record in Dortmund’s youth teams, scoring so many goals that he was deemed ready for senior football, eventually making his debut a day after turning 16 in November 2020. Five goals in 30 mostly substitute appearances have followed, his game time restricted by a number of niggling injuries as he adapted to the rigours of playing against men rather than boys. Already the lead striker for Germany’s U21 side, he’s more determined than ever to make the 2022/23 campaign one to remember: “At the moment I’m doing everything I can to avoid injuries because I really want to kick on. I want more playing time, I want to score more goals and stay injury free. I’m highly motivated," he said.

Watch: The 10 youngest goalscorers in Bundesliga history

Jamal Musiala
Age: 19
Club: Bayern Munich
Position: Attacking midfield
Country: Germany (15 caps / one goal)

Musiala is going into his third full season as a professional at Bayern, despite having only turned 19 in February. Last year was his most productive to date, with five goals and five assists in 30 Bundesliga appearances, 12 of which were starts. “He’s a very good player, and he doesn’t get enough game time for the quality he has due to the competition for places here,” said head coach Julian Nagelsmann. “He’s also very consistent. It’s hard to keep tabs on him in a game because he can twist his way out of situations like a snake and still get his foot on the ball somehow.” A superb dribbler with a cool head in the final third, it is no surprise he’s also a full Germany international now. While it will be tough for him to knock Thomas Müller out of the Bayern side, he is sure to be given plenty of chances to show what he can do.

Watch: Musiala's career milestones

Kevin Paredes
Age: 19
Club: Wolfsburg
Position: Left-back, left wing
Country: USA (two U20 caps)

After joining Wolfsburg from DC United in January this year, Paredes acclimatised to life in Germany with the reserve team initially. The USA youth international made two substitute appearances with the pros towards the end of the campaign, featuring against Arminia Bielefeld and Mainz on Matchdays 29 and 31. Quick, a good dribbler and with the experience of 38 MLS outings under his belt, Paredes could be set for a big season in Wolfsburg.

Watch: Paredes and the next generation of American youngsters in the Bundesliga

Gio Reyna
Age: 19
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Position: Attacking midfield
Country: USA (11 caps, four goals)

Another of the ‘older hands’ on this list, Reyna is also about to embark on his third full season with the Dortmund first team, yet he won’t be 20 until mid-November. A full USA international, at his best Reyna is almost impossible to stop: blessed with pace, strength, the ability to play key passes and – crucially – make the right decisions in high-pressure situations in the final third. The attacker will be hoping the new season brings a clean slate after suffering a series of injuries throughout 2021/22. The prospect of playing for new head coach Edin Terzic, under whom he blossomed in 2020/21, and with a World Cup squad to play his way into mean the BVB No.7 could be set for a reynaissance this term.

Watch: Reyna's season of setbacks

Joe Scally
Age: 19
Club: Borussia Mönchengladbach
Position: Left-back, right-back
Country: USA (two caps)

Injuries to fellow full-backs Ramy Bensebaini and Stefan Lainer opened the first-team door for Scally at the start of last season, and the New York native grabbed the opportunity with both hands – conducting himself admirably in a Bundesliga baptism of fire against Bayern. A powerfully built 6’0” defender, Scally is comfortable on either flank, is robust in the tackle and always willing to scamper forward to help out in attack. He made 30 Bundesliga appearances in 2021/22, scored his first goal on Matchday 7 against Wolfsburg, and earned the first of two senior USMNT caps to date in June 2022.

Watch: Scally's rapid rise

Dominik Szoboszlai
Age: 21
Club: RB Leipzig
Position: Attacking midfield
Country: Hungary (24 caps, six goals)

Leipzig knew they had a gem on their hands when they signed Szoboszlai in January 2021. So much so that they extended his contract just six months later – without the Hungarian even playing a single game for the club due to injury. As such, 2021/22 was the attacking midfielder’s period of bedding in, and with six league goals and eight assists in 31 matches it is safe to say he has lived up to the hype. A set-piece specialist, this is a player who buried a crucial 92nd-minute penalty to equalise against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League, shrugging off Neymar’s attempts to distract him by telling the Brazilian: “I never miss”. Already the cornerstone of an impressive Hungary national team, Szoboszlai is expected to take his game to the next level in 2022/23.

Paul Wanner
Age: 16
Club: Bayern Munich
Position: Attacking midfield
Country: Germany (11 U17 caps, four goals)

Given the quality and quantity of attacking midfielders already on Bayern’s roster, including the likes of Musiala, Müller and Sane, the fact Wanner made a Bundesliga matchday squad nine times in 2021/22 is testament to his talent. That he made his top-flight debut in January this year, less than a month after turning 16, highlights just how outrageously gifted he is, and the midfielder now holds the record as the club’s youngest-ever first-team player. “He’s had a lot of playing time for his age and will have more playing time,” said Nagelsmann. “He’s training with us and doing well. He’s a player with really great potential, of which – ideally – Bayern and I will have great joy in the coming weeks, months and years.” While he’s unlikely to become a first-team regular in 2022/23, more cameo outings are surely on the cards.

Watch: Wanner and the Bundesliga's young stars

Florian Wirtz
Age
: 19
Club: Bayer Leverkusen
Position: Attacking midfield
Country: Germany (four caps)

Already a full Germany international and about to head into his third full season as a pro, it is hard to believe Wirtz is still just 19 and won’t turn 20 until May next year. The Leverkusen playmaker chalked up seven goals and 10 assists in 24 Bundesliga assignments in 2021/22 before suffering a cruciate ligament tear in March. Leverkusen boss Seoane is not expecting him back in action until early in 2023 – but given his exploits so far, it will undoubtedly be well worth the wait.

Watch: The best of Florian Wirtz