Kjell Wätjen is Borussia Dortmund's latest academy star to sign a professional deal. - © IMAGO/Dennis Ewert/RHR-FOTO
Kjell Wätjen is Borussia Dortmund's latest academy star to sign a professional deal. - © IMAGO/Dennis Ewert/RHR-FOTO

Kjell Wätjen: Who is the latest Borussia Dortmund academy star?


Making headlines as a UEFA U17 European Championship winner last year, local starlet Kjell Wätjen has been earmarked as one of the next great talents to come out of Borussia Dortmund’s academy. Now training with the first team, Wätjen has signed his first professional contract until 2028, and it's easy to see why…

Stats correct as of 27 March 2024

Kjell Wätjen

Age: 18 (born 16 February 2006)
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Position: Midfielder
Country: Germany (seven U17 caps, one U16 cap)

Key stats

From the U10s all the way up to training with the first team, Dortmund have made sure to tie down Wätjen just before he shocks the world at senior level. Eligible to play for Sweden, the midfielder’s career peak so far was winning the UEFA Under-17 Euros with Germany in 2023 alongside fellow Dortmund academy graduates Paris Brunner, Almugera Kabar and Charles Herrmann. The Ruhr-born starlet made four appearances and notched a goal in the tournament, and since BVB’s winter training camp at the start of 2024 he’s been with the first team, although he’s yet to make a senior appearance.

Wätjen (r.) featured in four of six games as Germany won the 2023 U17 Euros. - IMAGO

First-team minutes may not be far off for Wätjen, who’s been on Edin Terzić’s bench for a clash against Heidenheim and both UEFA Champions League games against PSV Eindhoven. A level below, in the UEFA Youth League, he’s made eight appearances, while in the U19 Bundesliga he has six goals in 24 games.

Plays a bit like: Felix Nmecha

It’s no surprise that Dortmund are so keen to keep Wätjen long-term given his similarities to one of their star performers from the first half of the season. Despite standing at 6'0", the all-rounder glides across the pitch with ease due to his long legs and stride just like Nmecha did so brilliantly in 2023. He’s also able to turn a harmless pass from a teammate into a slalom right into the opposition’s penalty area. The definition of a box-to-box midfielder who can fill in anywhere, Wätjen is always in space, and always able to find some more on the counter - which makes him the perfect BVB-style midfielder.

Watch: Bundesliga stars praise Germany's U17 World Cup winners!

Did you know?

Wätjen wasn’t discovered by any normal means, he was in fact picked up at an Easter holiday course at Dortmund almost a decade ago to the day. Just eight years old at the time, the local lad impressed so much that the club made the surprising decision to sign him, and he joined the youth academy a year later, and has been with BVB ever since.

What they're saying

"Kjell is with us because he is good. He has always given us the opportunity to include him in training matches. He has earned it through his great performances.” - Dortmund head coach Terzić

“Kjell has developed greatly in recent years and absolutely deserves this step. In our U19 team, he drew attention to himself with strong performances in both the Bundesliga and the UEFA Youth League and continuously worked his way into the professional squad. We don’t see his development coming to an end yet.” - Dortmund sporting director Sebastian Kehl