Erling Haaland, Gio Reyna, Jude Bellingham, Jadon Sancho and now Youssoufa Moukoko - Borussia Dortmund is home to a galaxy of stars who have made their breakthrough as teenagers. - © DFL
Erling Haaland, Gio Reyna, Jude Bellingham, Jadon Sancho and now Youssoufa Moukoko - Borussia Dortmund is home to a galaxy of stars who have made their breakthrough as teenagers. - © DFL

Youssoufa Moukoko, the latest member of Borussia Dortmund's boy band


Youssoufa Moukoko has just become the youngest player in Bundesliga history at 16, joining a hit parade of teen sensations past and present at Borussia Dortmund: Erling Haaland, Jadon Sancho, Gio Reyna and Jude Bellingham.

If you weren't ­already aware that Dortmund is the best place for young talent to shine, runs you through the box-office quintet who will have the BVB faithful singing their hearts out as soon as they are back for good at the Signal Iduna Park…

Youssoufa Moukoko (Germany, 16)

Moukoko was only 13 when he revealed his modest career ambitions: turning pro, conquering the UEFA Champions League with Dortmund, and winning the Ballon d'Or! At an age when most boys are worrying about getting hold of FIFA for the PlayStation, the Cameroon-born wonder was already plotting his step-by-step route to the real-life summit of the game.

Watch: Meet Moukoko, Dortmund's 16-year-old prodigy

His goalscoring exploits in the Dortmund youth ranks are simply breathtaking. In 84 outings for the U17s and U19s, he notched a truly, madly, deeply impressive tally of 128 goals, at an average of 1.5 per game. Robert Lewandowski eat your heart out! Since joining the first-team squad, he has put away another 13 goals in four games for the U19s – so just the three hat-tricks and one four-goal blitz.

Having now turned 16, Moukoko can stay out clubbing until midnight, obtain his first driving licence, and theoretically get married (as long as Mum and Dad approve). Perhaps more significantly for Dortmund fans, he can also play in the Bundesliga. BVB's latest starlet has already added several pages to the club's history books, but in many ways his story is only just beginning...

Erling Haaland (Norway, 20)

Before he signed for Dortmund as a 19-year-old in January 2020, Haaland was already a larger than life character. A prolific striker who once netted NINE goals in a single game, he had talked about following in the footsteps of Scandinavian legend Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and seemed to enjoy keeping journalists on their toes in his post-match interviews.

Having made his senior debut even earlier than Moukoko – at 15 – the Norway international had superb spells with Molde and Salzburg before hitting the ground running at the Signal Iduna Park, with a record-breaking seven goals in his first three league outings. He has continued to go from strength to strength, scoring 27 in 29 appearances in all competitions, with his sizzling form in the final third earning him the 2020 Golden Boy award.

The son of former English Premier League midfielder Alf-Inge, Haaland has added ruthless efficiency to the Dortmund attack, and makes scoring goals look as easy as 1-2-3. He racked up a total of 44 in 40 matches in 2019/20 and has kept up his ratio of at least a goal per game in 2020/21, with 11 in 11 outings so far. And they say forwards peak in their late 20s!

Jadon Sancho (England, 20)

Dortmund fans will never forget that Sancho was in many ways the founding member of this Fab Five, having made his senior breakthrough during the 2017/18 campaign. The England international was only 17 when he burst onto the Bundesliga scene, dazzling older and supposedly wiser heads with his speed, verve and trickery down the flanks.

Jadon Sancho has made over 100 senior appearances for Borussia Dortmund, notching 36 goals and nearly 50 assists. - DFL

Sancho's stats soon began to live up to his burgeoning reputation, and the records tumbled. The Bundesliga's youngest English goalscorer. The second-youngest Englishman to score in the Champions League. The youngest BVB player to get a Bundesliga brace. The youngest player full stop to reach 10 Bundesliga goals, 15 Bundesliga goals, 20 Bundesliga goals... You get the picture.

The new kid on the block was soon a key cog in the Dortmund machine, excelling as both a taker and maker. He contributed 17 goals and 16 assists in a remarkable 2019/20 season, completing his journey from hot prospect to world-class wing wizard. Now 20, Sancho is only a few months older than Haaland, yet he feels a little like the elder statesman of BVB's current crop of whizzkids, with his precocious success paving the way for the emergence of Reyna, Bellingham and Moukoko.

Gio Reyna (USA, 18)

Like Haaland, Reyna has football in the blood; his parents are former USA internationals Claudio Reyna and Danielle Egan. In a curious twist, his father was signed as a replacement for Haaland's dad at Manchester City back in the early 2000s – and that little bit of shared history may explain the almost telepathic understanding between the two BVB stars.

Watch: Haaland and Reyna, Dortmund's dream duo

Teasingly described as the 'American Dream' by his Norwegian teammate, Reyna has provided six assists since turning pro, and five of them have been for Haaland. The 18-year-old American has an uncanny knack of finding the gaps in opposition defences, and became the youngest Bundesliga player to grab a hat-trick of assists in the 4-0 win over Freiburg.

He has also added goals to his game, becoming the second-youngest American to net in the Bundesliga after Christian Pulisic, another of Dortmund's teenage trailblazers. He also opened his account for the USA in a recent friendly with Panama, and BVB fans were no doubt mmmbopping with delight when he signed a contract extension through to 2025.

Jude Bellingham (England, 17)

Sancho had already proved that English players had nothing to fear from a magical mystery tour into Europe, and so Bellingham followed in the footsteps of his "big bro" by joining Dortmund from Birmingham City in summer 2020. His rapid integration is further evidence of the opportunities afforded to youngsters in the Bundesliga, and particularly at BVB: this term he has already featured in 11 of the club's 12 games, even making the starting line-up away to Lazio in the Champions League.

The Bundesliga's Rookie of the Month for September, Bellingham wasted no time in entering the history books. In his league debut against Gladbach, he became the youngest player to provide a Bundesliga assist since data collection began in 2004, teeing up Reyna for the opener. The former England U17 captain has since made his senior international debut against the Republic of Ireland.

Described as "world-class" by Sancho, Bellingham is perhaps the least attacking member of this quintet, but as a box-to-box midfielder his contribution cannot be so easily measured in goals and assists. The 17-year-old did pop up with an occasional strike for Birmingham, though, and – having drawn comparisons with ex-England captain Steven Gerrard – he is likely to have a lasting impact on the BVB engine room.

Watch: Dortmund, where football's best young players come to flourish

Ultimately, Dortmund will be hoping that the transformation of their teen titans from boys to men will help to usher in a new era of success. None of the Fab Five were on the club's books when they last won a major title, the 2016/17 DFB Cup, and they were still pre-teens when BVB conquered their most recent Bundesliga crown in 2011/12.

If things go according to plan, BVB's brilliant boy band will rule the world and take the club back to the top of the pops, be it in the Bundesliga, the DFB Cup or the Champions League. The top brass, the players, the fans and perhaps even a few neutrals certainly want it that way.

Andy Smith