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Home to young hotshots such as Josko Gvardiol and Jamal Musiala, the Bundesliga is a popular market for Football Managers. - © DFL
Home to young hotshots such as Josko Gvardiol and Jamal Musiala, the Bundesliga is a popular market for Football Managers. - © DFL
bundesliga

FM23's Bundesliga Wonderkid XI, starring Jamal Musiala

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The Bundesliga is globally recognised for being a fertile breeding ground for elite young talents. Whether they’re German-born or from further afield, Bundesliga clubs have consistently given wonderkids the opportunities to star as soon as they’re ready. The Bundesliga is therefore one of your most popular destinations for transfers in Football Manager. To celebrate that, we’ve put together our best Bundesliga Wonderkid XI from FM23.

Goalkeeper: Oliver Christensen, 24 (Hertha Berlin)

When putting this team together, goalkeeper was a slightly tricky position. The Bundesliga is stacked with experienced, elite goalkeepers and that meant the two youngest starters this season were Hertha’s Oliver Christensen and Union Berlin’s Lennart Grill.

We chose Christensen because, in what has been a tough campaign for the capital side, the tall Dane has made the starting jersey his own and appeared in every single league game.

An effective shot-stopper, Christensen has made the eighth-most saves in the Bundesliga this season. In FM23, it’s his Reflexes (14), Command of Area (14), Jumping Reach (15) and Aerial Reach (15) that signify him as a player of real quality who’ll only continue to improve in the coming years.

Right-Back: Kiliann Sildillia, 21 (Freiburg)

Essential to Freiburg continuing to punch above their weight is defensive organisation, something much easier to achieve when you’ve got talents like Kiliann Sildillia at your disposal.

Although typically a full-back, the young Frenchman’s aerial prowess (15 Heading) and general athleticism (14 Stamina, 14 Work Rate and 14 Teamwork) mean that he’s more than capable as a central defender.

We’ve been particularly impressed by how Sildillia, who also possesses a superb long throw, has often functioned more like an inverted wing-back in his breakthrough season, using his skills on the ball to push up into midfield and give Freiburg an extra man in the middle of the pitch.

Centre-Back: Josko Gvardiol, 21 (RB Leipzig)

If you were building the model defender from scratch, there’s a good chance the finished product would look a lot like Josko Gvardiol. Already a lynchpin of defences at club and international level, the Croatian is the fifth-most signed player in FM23.

Even though he’s arguably still developing, Gvardiol is already fantastic at pretty much everything you want a modern defender to be. For example, his average of 73 passes per game this season is proof of someone exceedingly comfortable with the ball at their feet and possessing a tremendous passing range.

He’s strong and brave in the tackle, he’s intelligent and he’s a natural athlete. He’s also blessed with deceptive amounts of pace, meaning that he can not only support attacking moves as a left-back but also, when required, rapidly recover to thwart opposition counterattacks.

Put all those things together and you understand why he was one of the first names on this teamsheet.

Watch: Josko Gvardiol in action

Centre-Back: Piero Hincapie, 21 (Bayer Leverkusen)

After two full seasons of European football, Piero Hincapie looks like an inspired and astute bit of business by Bayer Leverkusen.

The Ecuadorian possesses all the tools needed to marshal a successful defence, as evidence by the number of duels he’s won in real life this season and his FM23 Attribute scores of 15 Positioning, 14 Marking, 14 Tackling and 14 Anticipation.

Also quite mobile with 14 Acceleration, the 21-year-old will make a formidable partnership in this team alongside Gvardiol.

Left-Back: Luca Netz, 20 (Borussia Mönchengladbach)

One of the younger players in this team, Luca Netz is yet to establish himself as a regular starter in the Bundesliga for Borussia Mönchengladbach. However, with his passion and talent so obvious, that’s unlikely to be the case for long.

A popular figure in multiple editions of Football Manager, Netz’s ratings of 15 for Pace, Acceleration and Corners, as well as 13 for Crossing illustrate that he brings bags of creativity and mobility to the left side of any defence. In this team, he should perfectly complement the more defensive brief of Sildillia on the other side.

Defensive Midfielder: Tom Krauß, 21 (Schalke)

Twice named Rookie of the Month this campaign, RB Leipzig loanee Tom Krauß had been one of the biggest stars of FC Schalke’s return to the Bundesliga.

Although he probably does stop running at some point, we’ve never seen it. Krauß seemingly covered every blade of grass possible for the Gelsenkirchen outfit this past season, recording more tackles per game than anyone else in the division in the process.

In FM23, his ratings of 17 for Natural Fitness, Determination and Bravery, as well as 16 for Tackling, set Krauß apart as a real workhorse. Partnering him with the player listed below in a double pivot looks like a match made in heaven.

Central Midfielder: Jude Bellingham, 19 (Borussia Dortmund)

Purchased by 17% of all FM23 players, Jude Bellingham isn’t just a Wonderkid, he’s a bonafide superstar.

Studying the Bundesliga’s physical output stats highlights Bellingham’s dramatic influence on every game; he’s won more duels than anyone else in the league and ranks among the very best for sprints, intensive runs and distance covered.

Bellingham’s ‘Gets into Opposition Area’ trait in FM23 reflects the more attacking edge he’s added to his game this season. A fantastic dribbler, Bellingham’s lung-busting runs have seen him record an impressive 65 shots and 11 goal contributions across the campaign.

Being that good at 19 just isn’t fair, is it?

Watch: Jude Bellingham departs Dortmund a world star

Central Midfielder: Florian Wirtz, 20 (Bayer Leverkusen)

Even though he’s been the hero of many of your FM23 careers, this season has been a learning curve for midfield sensation Florian Wirtz as he spent the first half of the campaign out injured.

It was the sort of setback that could have really halted the 20-year-old’s progress, but since returning to full fitness, he hasn’t missed a beat - and then some! He’s proven himself to be a real difference-maker under the coaching of Xabi Alonso.

Given real positional freedom, Wirtz has been able to drift between the lines and take the ball on the half-turn, allowing him to unleash his great Dribbling (rated 15 in FM23) skills and Passing (also 15 in FM23) range. As well as averaging just under three key passes per game, Wirtz’s creativity and energy has led to Leverkusen taking an average of four shots per game more when he’s on the pitch than when he’s not. That’s what you call impactful.

Right Winger: Patrick Wimmer, 22 (Wolfsburg)

More of an out-and-out winger than our selection on the other side, Patrick Wimmer has been one of Wolfsburg’s most consistent and creative performers this season.

Averaging 1.2 shots per game, the Austrian recorded eight assists and four goals for the Lower Saxony-based club in 24 league appearances.

Key to his contributions are his Pace and Dribbling, which are both rated 15 in FM23, and his relentless Workrate and desire to find space and create opportunities for himself and his teammates.

Left Winger: Jamal Musiala, 20 (Bayern Munich)

Much like Bellingham in midfield, Jamal Musiala is already one of the world’s best.

One of the strongest dribblers (rated 19) in FM23, Musiala’s agility and magical feet strike fear into the heart of opposition defenders.

He’s also added more end product at the end of those mazy runs this season, racking up 12 goals and 10 assists in the Bundesliga for the reigning champions.

What people don’t perhaps appreciate though is how effective he has been in Bayern’s high press, recording more than 350 tackles across the course of the season. In fact, against Schalke in May he won more tackles than anyone else on the pitch. A very special player, indeed.

Watch: All Jamal Musiala's Bundesliga goals and assists in 2022/23

Striker: Karim Adeyemi, 21 (Borussia Dortmund)

Karim Adeyemi’s first season with Borussia Dortmund has very much been a tale of two halves. Before Christmas, he hadn’t scored a single goal for BVB. In 2023, though, he’s stepped up, scoring six and recording the most regular goal contribution rate of anyone in Europe’s top five leagues.

Central to Adeyemi’s uptick in form this season has been him exploiting his incredible pace. Indeed, no one has clocked a higher top speed in the Bundesliga this season than the young German.

Adeyemi openly admits that he loves one-on-one challenges with defenders and it’s no surprise to us – he’s got 16 Dribbling in FM23. With the service this team would provide, we know the 21-year-old would continue his explosive form.

Watch: Karim Adeyemi wins Rookie of the Season

Also impressive but just missing out on the starting XI are: Lennart Grill (Goalkeeper, Union Berlin), Micky van de Ven (Central Defender, Wolfsburg), Joe Scally (Full-Back, Borussia Mönchengladbach), Kouadio Kone (Defensive Midfielder, Borussia Mönchengladbach), Denis Huseinbasic (Defensive Midfielder, Cologne), Dominik Szoboszlai (Attacking Midfielder, RB Leipzig), Jamie Bynoe-Gittens (Winger, Borussia Dortmund), Mathys Tel (Attacking Midfielder, Bayern Munich) and Nelson Weiper (Striker, Mainz).