bundesliga

Jamal Musiala and Florian Wirtz: Bundesliga starlets today, Germany stars tomorrow

At 18, Jamal Musiala and Florian Wirtz are lighting up the Bundesliga for Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen respectively. Now, they're looking to do it on the international stage in Germany colours.

Musiala earned his sixth senior international cap - and first start - as Germany kicked off the Hansi Flick era with a 2-0 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying win in Liechtenstein. He set up the opening goal for Timo Werner, to boot.

In the week prior, the former Chelsea academy player marked his 30th Bundesliga appearance with his seventh top-flight goal, whilst scoring a second career brace - and providing another one of 12 Bayern goals on the night - in the DFB Cup first round.

Translation: Happy to make my full debut for Germany. Three points. Armenia now the focus!

All told, Musiala has produced 10 goals and four assists in 49 senior outings for club and country, collecting UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup and back-to-back Bundesliga and DFL Supercup cup winner's medals along the way. He doesn't turn 19 until February 2022.

"He has unbelievable potential," Bayern head coach Julian Nagelsmann said of Musiala in-between his protégé's body-popping display in the record champions' 5-0 win over Hertha Berlin on Bundesliga Matchday 3, and the Liechtenstein fixture.

"It's extraordinary. He has great finishing qualities, unbelievable attacking qualities and dribbling. He has this street footballer mentality that you don't see so much these days. He has the basis for an outstanding career."

Watch: A Jamal Musiala highlight reel

The signs were there at an early age. Musiala was just eight when he landed a scholarship with the Chelsea academy, via a short stint with Southampton. At 11, he was dazzling at Wembley Stadium, scoring a now viral four goals in mini-game action.

The twinkle-toed midfielder went on to play for Chelsea's U18s, England's U15s, 16s and 17s, and the Germany U16s - all before turning 16. While kids of a similar age were counting down the days to driver school, Musiala returned to his country of birth, with Bayern. He's been motoring through the gears ever since.

Musiala averaged a goal or assist every 105 minutes as a member of Bayern's U17 squad, before being promptly promoted to the U19s. Eight appearances later, he was bumped up a class to the Bayern reserves.

Watch: An 11-year-old Musiala rocks Wembley!

Soon after the coronavirus-enforced break, Musiala duly made his professional debut in the German third tier. He scored a brace on his second outing, making history as the league's second-youngest scorer of all time - a soon-to-be recurring theme.

On the penultimate weekend of the 2019/20 season, Musiala became Bayern's youngest Bundesliga player, aged 17 years and 115 days. Ninety days on, on the opening day of the 2020/21 Bundesliga campaign, he wrote his name into the annals as the record champions' greenest goalscorer.

Further milestones - along with strikes against Eintracht Frankfurt, RB Leipzig, Union Berlin and Wolfsburg - littered a breakout top-flight season. Two days prior to his 18th birthday, Musiala became the youngest Bayern goalscorer in UEFA Champions League history. He penned his first pro deal a month later, within days of pledging his international allegiance to Germany.

Jamal Musiala (l.) got his big break at Bayern Munich under Hansi Flick (r.). - Frank Hoermann/SVEN SIMON via www.imago-images.de/imago images/Sven Simon

English hearts are still reeling. Despite having represented the Three Lions up to U21 level as recently as November 2020, Musiala opted for his birthland, answering Joachim Löw's call ahead of UEFA Euro 2020. After a trio of friendy tasters, the Bayern midfielder made a couple of eye-catching cameos at the pan-European finals, becoming Germany's youngest player to appear at a major tournament in the decisive Group F draw with Hungary.

His contribution was quintessentially Musiala. Rapid feet, quick thinking and a pass which was eventually converted by Bayern teammate Leon Goretzka to save Die Mannschaft's bacon. Defeat would have sent the three-time winners crashing out.

"Jamal's already very good, but can become world class," said club and countryman Joshua Kimmich.

"He's very advanced for his age. He's full of tricks, unpredictable and also very dynamic when it comes to controlling the ball - especially with his first touch. He always tries to take the ball forward. He's a very special player."

There must be something in the Bundesliga water.

With two semi-final goals against the Netherlands, Leverkusen-based Wirtz propelled Germany a step closer to claiming their third UEFA U21 title this past summer. Breaking the deadlock after just 29 seconds, he also set a new championship record for the fastest ever goal.

Golden Boy: Florian Wirtz has a bright future for club and country. - Frank Hoermann/SVEN SIMON via www.imago-images.de/imago images/Sven Simon

It was an apt milestone for a player going like the clappers alongside Musiala in the career fastlane.

Wirtz had made 24 appearances for Cologne's U17s when he was picked up by regional rivals Leverkusen in January 2020. Enhancing his reputation with two goals and three assists in four U19 games for his new employers, the teenager proceeded to make a seamless transtion onto the pro circuit.

Five months into his top-tier journey, Wirtz overtook Kai Havertz as Leverkusen's youngest Bundesliga debutant, at the age of 17 years and 15 days. Within a matter of weeks, on only his fourth top-flight outing, he usurped the same man in the scoring stakes, curling the ball beyond a certain Manuel Neuer no less.

Watch: Florian Wirtz has a habit of making Bundesliga history

Wirtz's reward was a long-term deal through to 2026, the prestigious Fritz Walter gold medal in the U17 category and, for around six months, a place at the top of the all-time charts as the Bundesliga's youngest ever goalscorer.

"He will be the second Kai Havertz... He will go the same way as Havertz," prophesised Germany legend Lothar Matthäus, likening Leverkusen's teenaged playmaker to his midfield predecessor, laterly Chelsea's 2020/21 UEFA Champions League final match-winner.

"He's a real talent, a really talented midfield player. In a few years, we will see him play for the Germany national team."

Wirtz (c.) has been dubbed the rightful heir to former teammate Kai Havertz (1st.l) at Leverkusen. - gumzmedia / Nordphoto / Andreas Gumz / POOL / imago images

We already have. Part of the squad but a unused substitute for Germany's three World Cup qualifiers in March 2021, Wirtz made his ahead-of-schedule senior international debut on 2 September.

The Leverkusen midfielder replaced Kimmich in the 82nd minute, less than a week after becoming the youngest player in Bundesliga history to reach seven goals, aged 18 years, three months and 25 days. Werner held the previous best-mark. Havertz was six months older when he hit the same number, on his 49th Bundesliga appearance.

Wirtz's current tally reads seven goals and eight assists in 38 Bundesliga games; 10 of each in 49 in all competitions. With his next birthday not until 3 May 2022, it's fair to assume he will move ahead of Werner, Havertz and freshly minted record-holder Gio Reyna as the quickest to 50 German top-flight appearances.

"I like him very much, he's already very, very mature for his age," new Germany coach Flick told Tz of Wirtz.

"He's done very well, and is one of those young talents - including guys like Musiala - football can be very excited about. That's very important for the future of German football."

Needless to say a Musiala-Wirtz tandem is a mouth-watering prospect.

Chris Mayer-Lodge