It takes something special to be in the Bayern Munich squad, and even more so if you are still legally a child who just turned 16! But such is the case of Paul Wanner, who became the club's youngest debutant before extending his contract with the club.
Data correct as of 1 September 2023
Born in the town of Amtzell in southern Germany - almost exactly halfway between Freiburg and Munich and close to the Austrian border - Wanner started out playing for local side Ravensburg. Bayern's scouting network identified his potential and signed him for the club in July 2020 at the age of 14.
Considered too advanced for his own age group, Wanner was thrust into the U16s in his first year at the club, and was promoted to the U17s at the start of 2021/22. After posting a goal and an assist in two outings for the team, the attacker, who usually operates centrally but can also play off either wing, was promoted to the U19s. He chipped in with two goals and two assists in his first nine appearances (eight as a starter) in the U19 Bundesliga South/South-West.
Wanner’s assured displays did not go unnoticed in the Germany set-up, and he was given his U17 debut in August 2021 against Poland. Six further caps followed, before a combination of injury and illness in then Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann's first-team pool opened the door for Wanner to have a taste of life with the pros. On Matchday 18 of the 2021/22 campaign Wanner made history by making his senior debut as a 75th-minute substitute for Marc Roca against Gladbach. Two more cameo appearances swiftly followed that record-breaking one before the youngster was rewarded with a fresh, long-term contract at the end of January 2022. He's since made substitute appearances in the Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League, whilst flitting between the U19s and reserves. His search for regular first-team minutes has taken him to Bundesliga 2's Elversberg in a season-long loan deal through to summer 2024.
Plays a bit like: Kai Havertz
Wanner is an attacking midfielder most at home in central areas, where he can thread a pass or drag a defender out of position. As a left-footer with a lean frame, outstanding close control and technique who seems to glide effortlessly over the pitch, there is more than a little bit of former Bayer Leverkusen attacker Havertz is his game.
Did you know?
Wanner was with fellow Bayern academy player Arijon Ibrahimovic in Spain taking part in a Germany U17 training camp when he got the call to return to Munich and join up with the first team.
"It was a stressful trip for them," the then Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann said of the teenage duo after calling them up for Bayern's squad for the meeting with Gladbach. "But they'll cope with it fine, as you'd expect from two 16-year-olds who have been asked to train with the senior team. We don't need to wrap them up in cotton wool."
What they're saying
"Paul Wanner is an outstanding talent with a lot of qualities... physically he's not yet fully developed, but he's a very quick player with an unbelievably good technique. He's left-footed, has very good ideas and believes in himself... he's definitely a player I've got my eye on that we need to support in the future." – former Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann ahead of Bayern's clash with Gladbach
"Paul has shown in training with the first team that he has the chance to develop in our team thanks to his talent. The fact that he has already been used in the Bundesliga at the age of 16 confirms not only his ability, but also the excellent work being done at the FC Bayern Campus." – Bayern's former sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic after Wanner signed a contract extension in January 2022
"My childhood dream has come true. I've been playing for Bayern since I was 12 and I always wanted to become a professional here." – Wanner on penning his new deal
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