Bayern Munich U19s attacker Malik Tillman (l.) sees himself as a Paul Pogba-type (r.) player. - © imago/ getty/ DFL
Bayern Munich U19s attacker Malik Tillman (l.) sees himself as a Paul Pogba-type (r.) player. - © imago/ getty/ DFL
bundesliga

Bayern Munich's German-American youth player Malik Tillman: "I'm similar to Paul Pogba"

The USA and Germany could be set for one almighty international tug of war if Bayern Munich U19s star Malik Tillman lives up to his self-styled comparisons with Paul Pogba.

Tillman - born and raised in Germany to an American father and a German mother - made his international debut for the US U15s, but is currently part of the Germany U18s set-up.

He joined the Bayern academy at the age of 13, and has been scoring for fun for the U19s so far this season, hitting 13 goals in 21 competitive appearances over the first half of the campaign.

It's quite the haul for the up-and-coming 17-year-old - even more so for someone who's been playing out of position.

Tillman (c.) played for the Bayern U16s and U17s before being promoted to the U19s in time for the 2019/20 season. - imago

"I prefer to play as a number eight or number 10, rather than as the central striker," Tillman told SportBild, having been deployed largely as the focal point of the Bayern U19s attack in 2019/20. "I can score goals from midfield, and I can exploit my creativity with more space in front of me.

"When I play as a No.8 or No.10, my playing style is similar to Paul Pogba's. I like him a lot. I really like how he plays. He's something of a role model for me."

A 2018 FIFA World Cup winner with France and a four-time Serie A champion in his Juventus days, Manchester United midfielder Pogba is something of a touchstone in his position - but Bayern's academy boss, Jochen Sauer, says Tillman is worthy of the hype.

"Malik's one of the younger lads in the U19s, but he's a beast physically," he explained. "He has very, very good technique. He's difficult to nudge off the ball. He will get even better if he becomes more dynamic. It helps him to play as a striker sometimes. He's got a very good tally for goals and assists."

Tillman (l.) has won 15 Germany youth caps, but could yet represent the USMNT. - imago

So good, in fact, that Tillman's 28 goals for Bayern's various academy teams are already 13 more than brother Timothy - three years Malik's senior - scored before being promoted to the reserves and spending the 2018/19 season on loan in the Bundesliga with Nuremberg.

Timothy made one start and five substitute appearances in Germany's top flight, but has not played since returning to Bayern's second team because of injury.

Young Malik - who was reportedly offered a place at the Bayern academy as a sweetener to bring Timothy to the club from the Greuther Fürth youths - hopes to one day play alongside his sibling in the Bundesliga.

"I started playing very early with my brother, a lot earlier than normal guys, probably aged three," he recalled of his nascent steps into the soccer world. "It'd be fantastic if we could play together in the Bundesliga at some point, though our Mum has said she'd rather see us play against each other."