Every season without fail, at least one talented youngster strikes it big in the Bundesliga in a sensational breakout campaign. In Julien Duranville, Mathys Tel, Kevin Paredes, Nelson Weiper and Paxten Aaronson, we outline five fresh-faced hopefuls who could be the next in line in 2023/24…
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Bundesliga appearances: One
Signed from Belgian club Anderlecht in January this year when he was still just 16, Duranville could be the next youngster to take the Signal Iduna Park by storm, following on from the likes of Nuri Sahin, Mario Götze, Christian Pulisic, Jadon Sancho and Jude Bellingham, among others in recent years.
“Julien is a fast, technically strong and creative winger in whom we see great potential," said Dortmund sporting director Sebastian Kehl when the transfer was confirmed. “In the coming years, we would like to work together to leverage this potential and drive forward his development – as we have already demonstrated with talented youngsters on several occasions in the past.
“Our main focus will now be on integrating Julien into our first-team squad and his new surroundings as quickly as possible and bringing him up to Bundesliga level step-by-step.”
The Belgian teenager missed the majority of the season due to a muscle injury, but did make his Bundesliga debut on the final day of the campaign. It is a testament to head coach Edin Terzic’s belief in him that, with Dortmund 2-0 down at home to Mainz and needing a win to secure a first Meisterschale in 10 years, Duranville replaced playmaker Julian Brandt on 62 minutes to provide creative inspiration.
At full fitness and with a full pre-season behind him, the Belgium U19 international looks like a thrilling prospect for BVB in 2023/24.
Club: Bayern Munich
Position: Centre forward
Bundesliga appearances: 22 (five goals)
Breaking into the Bayern Munich first team is a tough proposition even for seasoned senior pros, let alone raw teenagers, but in 2022/23 Tel showed enough glimpses of his gifts to earn regular outings following his arrival from Stade Rennes in July last year.
The French youngster made 22 appearances, 21 of which were as a substitute, but still managed to score five times, while he added another in the DFB Cup.
“We can see the qualities he says,” said head coach Thomas Tuchel. “He’s got an explosiveness and is really good at finishing. He needs to keep those.
“He’s got a youthful freedom when he plays and drive that we need to channel properly so that he understands what to do when and what not to do. But he’s done well a few times as a substitute.”
Eric-Maxim Choupo Moting is the only other recognised out-and-out striker on Bayern’s books, so Tel is sure to continue his Allianz Arena education with plenty more minutes in the new season. And if he can keep scoring, well, things move quickly in the world of football...
Bundesliga appearances: 24 (one goal)
Paredes needed a little while to adapt to life in Germany following his move from DC United in January 2022. The Virginia native made two late Bundesliga cameos at the end of the 2021/22 season, but was part of the first-team squad on 24 occasions in 2022/23.
Quick, agile and always eager to attack, Paredes earned the trust of head coach Niko Kovac and was rewarded with ever increasing minutes on the pitch – he was even given a first start in a 2-2 draw against Bayer Leverkusen on Matchday 11.
“He deserved it,” Kovac said of the decision to hand the USA U20 international his starting debut. “He’s extraordinary in training and is a hard worker. Whenever he plays he gives his all in attack and in defence.”
Paredes produced one goal and three assists in the Bundesliga last term, and the fact that Paulo Otavio, Luca Waldschmidt and Omar Marmoush have all been allowed to leave the club this summer – all three enjoy operating in attacking positions off the left wing, like Paredes – could point to Paredes enjoying an even bigger role for the Wolves in 2023/24.
Position: Centre forward
Bundesliga appearances: Nine (two goals)
Nelson who? The Germany U21 international may not be too widely known across the country, and even less so beyond its borders, but there is a great deal of excitement surrounding him in Mainz. And understandably so.
‘Nelly’, as he is known at the club, became Mainz’s youngest-ever Bundesliga debutant when he took to the field against Freiburg on Matchday 8 as an 86th-minute substitute at the age of 17 years, six months and 14 days.
“It’s a step and it’s a confirmation [of his ability], but he doesn’t get a free pass just because he's called Nelson Weiper and is talented,” said head coach Bo Svensson afterwards. “In training he’s shown that he’s capable but he’s still got a long way to go. It’s not normal to play in the Bundesliga at such a young age. You have to be a special talent to do so – and he is that.”
Weiper wrote his name in the record books again just a couple of months later, becoming the club’s all-time youngest scorer when he found the net in a 4-0 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach on Matchday 22. He added another in a 2-2 draw against Werder Bremen on Matchday 27 and was a regular squad member in the latter part of the season.
A striker who clearly knows where the goal is, more is surely to come over the next few weeks and months.
Club: Eintracht Frankfurt
Position: Attacking midfield
Bundesliga appearances: Nine (two goals)
Signed as a prospect for the future in January this year, Aaronson threw Frankfurt’s plans into disarray by swiftly proving himself ready for the first team. “He’s a highly talented, fantastic kid,” said former Frankfurt head coach Oliver Glasner, not someone usually known for singling players out for praise.
Quick in thought and deed and with an eye for the killer pass, Aaronson enjoys nothing better than running at defences before picking them apart. Already a full USA international – he made his debut in January – Aaronson made seven Bundesliga appearances for Frankfurt in 2022/23, amassing 172 minutes on the pitch.
Watch: Paxten Aaronson - Frankfurt's new US prospect
“He implements a lot of the things we want from him really well,” Glasner continued, adding that he is a fan of the player’s fearless playing style: “That’s the American way: they don’t overthink it, they just do it.”
And with Daichi Kamada’s summer departure confirmed, that could open the door for more game time for Aaronson in the coming season.
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