From Ousmane Dembele (l.) to Gio Reyna (r.) via Christian Pulisic (2nd l.) and Jadon Sancho (2nd r.), Borussia Dortmund have boasted some of the game's most exciting young wingers in recent seasons. - © DFL
From Ousmane Dembele (l.) to Gio Reyna (r.) via Christian Pulisic (2nd l.) and Jadon Sancho (2nd r.), Borussia Dortmund have boasted some of the game's most exciting young wingers in recent seasons. - © DFL

From Ousmane Dembele to Gio Reyna via Christian Pulisic and Jadon Sancho: Borussia Dortmund's recent history of exciting young wingers

In recent years Borussia Dortmund have unearthed – and polished – some of the finest young wingers in world football, from Ousmane Dembele to Christian Pulisic, Jadon Sancho and now Gio Reyna.

How they attract the best youngsters – with midfielder Jude Bellingham the latest to tread the path to the Signal Iduna Park – is just as impressive as the performances the players come to display out on the pitch, with the trust that Dortmund provide in them providing the perfect platform to perform.

Dortmund have long enjoyed the services of dangerous wingers, including Marco Reus, Thorgan Hazard, Jakub Blaszczykowski and Henrikh Mkhitaryan over the past decade, but of the younger generation, Pulisic was the original trailblazer.

Watch: Christian Pulisic: Made in the Bundesliga

After being invited to train with the Dortmund first team during the 2015/16 winter break, the then 17-year-old made his Bundesliga debut in the second half of that season. He would start four times and make nine league appearances under Thomas Tuchel in that campaign, scoring twice to underline his reputation as a teenager of rare promise.

The American was rarely out of the team from that point on, taking his total to 90 Bundesliga outings across the next three seasons, including 55 starts, 13 goals and 16 assists. Blessed with quick feet and a highly sought-after willingness to dribble at and take on defenders, he became the talisman in the US national team before joining Chelsea of the English Premier League in summer 2019.

Pulisic was joined at BVB by the next wing wizard, Dembele, in time for the 2016/17 season. The France international, who was 20 at the time, quite literally hit the ground running – clocking a top speed of 21.31 mph - and formed a potent understanding with fellow French-speaker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Watch: All of Dembele's assists in 2016/17

"He's an unbelievable player, he's very, very talented," said former Dortmund boss Tuchel of Dembele. "I could see every day in training that he's an extraordinary talent."

He showed that consistently throughout his only Bundesliga campaign, making 32 league appearances (22 starts), contributing six goals, 12 assists and untold twisted ankles for opposition defenders. Naturally two-footed and able to operate on either wing, his combination of pace and trickery was too hot to handle more often than not.

Dembele's departure for Barcelona in summer 2017 immediately opened the door for Dortmund's next starlet – Sancho. Signed as a 17-year-old from the Manchester City youth academy, the English attacker was handed the same No.7 shirt Dembele had just vacated.

Jadon Sancho took the No.7 shirt at Borussia Dortmund despite being only 17 years of age. - Lukas Schulze/Bundesliga/DFL via Getty Images

Far from being overawed by the weight of expectation, Sancho embraced it: "I would have taken any number but getting seven was a big boost to my confidence," he told BBC Sport. "It doesn't faze me. It is about coming here and proving myself. That's why I am here."

He has done that and then some. Now a full England international, Sancho has been directly involved in 64 goals (30 scored, 34 assists) in 78 Bundesliga games across his two and a half seasons in Germany.

Not only that, he also averages more sprints per game (35.7) than Pulisic and Dembele (32 / 27), has a faster top speed (21.5 mph) than both (21.37pmh /21.31 mph) and completes more passes (85.6 per cent, compared to 79.5 for Pulisic and 66.4 for Dembele).

Watch: All of Sancho's goals and assists in 2019/20

"Jadon's already incredibly good," praised Dortmund head coach Lucien Favre of his protégé. "Although he's very young, he's already playing a decisive role. He has unbelievable dribbling skills."

Over the past year or so, Sancho has played a vital role in nurturing the next in line at Dortmund: Reyna. "Jadon knows how I feel," the 17-year-old American said, following his move to Germany from New York in summer 2019. "He was there for me and I could always go to him whenever I needed something away from the pitch."

Although initially signed for the U19s, Reyna's displays were so impressive at youth level that he skipped the reserve team and was thrust into the senior reckoning at the start of this year.

"I want the ball, Erling" - Gio Reyna is the next in line to the wing throne at Borussia Dortmund. - gettyimages

He has since made two Bundesliga starts and 15 league appearances overall, providing one assist, while he notched his maiden goal at senior level with a long-range stunner in the DFB Cup against Werder Bremen.

Although not yet quite as fleet of foot as his predecessors (19.38 mph), his pass completion (86.2 per cent) and sprints per game (27.7) indicate that he has the technique and work rate to match – at the very least – the big names that have gone before him. And his assist for Erling Haaland at RB Leipzig towards the end of 2019/20 showcased his outstanding vision for a pass.

With Reyna already giving us glimpses of what he is capable of, Dortmund fans will be blessed with wing wizardry for some time to come, before Reyna helps weave the next talent into Die Schwarzgelben's squad and turn their talent to true footballing stardom like those before him.