While the rest of world football watches on in with envy at the progression of future stars such as Jadon Sancho and Christian Pulisic, Borussia Dortmund’s quest to find the next best talent on the planet is one that can never be satisfied.
“Our scouting department are so good and professional that we know each talented player all over Europe, maybe in the world,” Dortmund’s head of youth development Lars Ricken told the Evening Standard.
“We know them and we have the financial strength to buy the players as well.”
Ricken, himself a former Dortmund youth product who scored the winning goal in the 1997 UEFA Champions League final, now heads up one of European and world football’s most successful youth academies, and the work never stops.
Despite already discovering and polishing the talents of Sancho, Pulisic, as well as past stars such as Ousmane Dembele, Robert Lewandowski and Shinji Kagawa before them, Ricken and his team are always looking for more.
“Would we take another Sancho from England? Of course,” Ricken said. “Each club wants to find their own Sancho or Pulisic. I think our supporters are very proud of players like Jadon Sancho, because he is a very young player. Each club in the world is jealous of us because we have Sancho."
But it isn’t just about discovering the world’s next talent from afar. For Dortmund, it’s also about creating their own. The likes of Marco Reus, Mario Götze, Nuri Sahin and Marcel Schmelzer have all breaking onto the national and international stage through the doors of Dortmund’s Hohenbuschei academy.
“Of course, maybe there is more identification with a player who came from our youth department but, on the other hand, it is the attitude of the player,” Ricken explained.
“Do you believe that the player loves to play for Borussia Dortmund and he loves to be here? Or is it a player who will play here for one or two years and then go to the next club? That is very important.”