Bellingham, Moukoko, Adeyemi and the Borussia Dortmund young cubs craving title glory


From magnificent Moukoko to awesome Adeyemi and Reyna and unbelievable Bellingham to blossoming Bynoe-Gittens, Borussia Dortmund continue to boast the X-factor when it comes to developing the continent’s top young talent - and still mounting a title charge.

You only needed to witness Youssoufa Moukoko wheeling away in celebration after scoring the winning goal against Union Berlin on his 50th Bundesliga appearance to appreciate the impact he and Borussia’s immense youngsters have been having at the 2022/23 title chasers.

The Yellow Wall went mad for Moukoko as the 18-year-old leapt into the arms of coach Edin Terzic after becoming the youngest player to reach his half century on an emotional Matchday 27 for the Germany international. Yet ecstatic youths lighting up centre stage has become so commonplace in the BVB ranks that fans of the Black-and-Yellows have almost come to expect it.

Watch: Moukoko's double feat against Union   

As many as 22 goals and 10 assists from Borussia’s twinkle-toed fledglings have resulted in 32 points and added up to a combined 95 Bundesliga appearances, all figures no other top-flight team can match.

What’s more, four players under 20 have managed to get on the scoresheet this season: Moukoko, Jamie Bynoe-Gittens, Jude Bellingham and Gio Reyna (who has since turned 20). If BVB can make it five different teens on target before the season’s end, they will hold a new Bundesliga record. As it stands, Die Schwarzgelben have equalled their previous best for a third consecutive season.

"We are one of the teams – maybe unique in Europe – that is giving young players so much game time," coach Terzic told media after Moukoko's winner against Union. "So, it’s another goal scored by a teenager and it was such an important goal. We are really happy for him.”

“We want to offer them [young players] assistance,” the tactician added in quotes on the club's website. “[During their developmental stage] they only hear how good they are. Then they arrive in senior football and notice that it's not so easy. We want to support the boys [during] that process of growing.”

Coach Terzic (l.) is eager to help gifted young players like Moukoko (r.) develop. - Lars Baron/Getty Images

That impressive process continues to bear fruit. That Moukoko became the youngest player ever to play at a World Cup for Germany - as he did in Qatar last November - is just part of the proof. The Cameroon-born star was already the Bundesliga’s youngest-ever goalscorer, achieving that milestone at 16 years and 28 days, long before he broke Florian Wirtz’s Bundesliga record for youngest player to a half-century of appearances.

Moukoko has weighed in with an impressive 10 goal involvements this term (seven goals, three assists), all the while reaching a personal best in terms of top-flight appearances for a single campaign: 20 games, 11 starts. That he has achieved so much this term while also having to recover from a ruptured ligament speaks volumes of the player.

"He's a goalscorer and he has a sense for where the ball will arrive,” Terzic said of the 2021 Fritz Walter Medal winner. “The coaching staff are doing a very good job of building me up slowly. I'm optimistic that I'll play many games yet," Moukoko added.

Watch: Adeyemi - the Bundesliga's quickest 

His Germany teammate Adeyemi has also had to deal with his own injury issues this season, the 21-year-old missing as many as eight Bundesliga games with muscle tear. Nonetheless, the summer signing from Red Bull Salzburg has posted some impressive digits in his first season in the Bundesliga as a fresh-faced 21-year-old.

In his first five games in 2023 in Germany’s top tier, Adeyemi produced three goals and two assists, while he was also on target against Chelsea in the Champions League. On Matchday 19 against Freiburg, he was clocked at 22.8 mph, making him the fastest player in the Bundesliga since data began to be collated in 2011.

"Karim was in outstanding form prior to his injury [and] we're optimistic that he can build on that; he will help our attack with his speed," Terzic said of the three-time Austrian league and cup double winner. “That’s one of my roles in the team: to cause danger with my speed,” Adeyemi said soon after his arrival in Dortmund. “Getting playing time is important for a youngster [and] I wouldn't have come if I hadn't seen the opportunity,” he added.

Fan favourite: Karim Adeyemi has enjoyed a bright start to his BVB career. - Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Leading the way in terms of Dortmund playing time with 24 starts in 26 Bundesliga appearances this season has been the imperious Bellingham, the England midfield general who is bossing the Bundesliga in terms of duels won (409 after Matchday 27). Indeed, of all midfielders to compete in Germany’s top division this season, only Bayern Munich’s Joshua Kimmich was on the ball more often than the 19-year-old BVB engine-room roamer.

Now in his third season at Signal Iduna Park, Bellingham has scored a team-leading 10 goals in all competitions, while his four in the Bundesliga in 2022/23 is a personal best for the player, who has also captained his club this term.

Bellingham’s compatriot, Bynoe-Gittens, has made the most of an injury-troubled campaign to provide three goals and an assist to the Borussia title cause, and all after the 18-year-old England international made his first-team debut at the tail end of last season.

Watch: All of Bellingham's BVB goals and assists 

USMNT international Reyna, meanwhile, has managed a personal best five Bundesliga goals so far this season. As many as three of those came as a substitute and two provided Dortmund with crucial late winners against Augsburg and Mainz.

They’re the young guns adding plenty of ammunition to Dortmund’s title charge and should Terzic’s tenacious team raise a long sought after Meisterschale this term, there will be special praise due for the club’s gifted cubs.