Youssoufa Moukoko made his Bundesliga debut for Borussia Dortmund on 21 November 2020 against Hertha Berlin, the day after he turned 16. - © Matthias Koch via images/Matthias Koch
Youssoufa Moukoko made his Bundesliga debut for Borussia Dortmund on 21 November 2020 against Hertha Berlin, the day after he turned 16. - © Matthias Koch via images/Matthias Koch

Where will Youssoufa Moukoko fit in at Borussia Dortmund?

Youssoufa Moukoko has been scoring for fun for Borussia Dortmund's U19s, but where will the teenager fit in a senior team that already boasts the likes of Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho in attack? Having recently made his top-flight debut just a day after turning 16, takes a closer look...

Moukoko became available for selection in Lucien Favre's side the moment he turned 16 on 20 November 2020, and even made his debut the following day when Dortmund brushed aside Hertha Berlin 5-2 on Matchday 8 of the 2020/21 Bundesliga season.

If that sounds a little early, it's not when you consider Moukoko has scored 141 goals in 88 youth team appearances - and counting - since rapidly ascending the junior ranks, and it's even harder to argue against his inclusion in Favre's squad at the earliest opportunity given that the youngster has already hit three consecutive hat-tricks for the Black-Yellows' U19s this season.

Watch: Moukoko's Bundesliga debut against Hertha on Matchday 8

His 10 goals in his first three Bundesliga U19 appearances of 2020/21 have also seen Moukoko take the captain's armband, and the fact Favre handed him the No.18 shirt ahead with the seniors ahead of the new campaign shows that this step has been a long time coming.

But with Dortmund's attack already boasting an embarrassment of riches, where will Moukoko slot into the Swiss tactician's plans?

Through the middle

Moukoko's preferred role in the team would be as a centre forward, from where he has broken youth record, after youth record and played all his football with Dortmund's minors.

Watch: Moukoko's wonder-goal aged 13!

In his way is the obvious goal-threat of Haaland, who has lit up the Bundesliga since joining Dortmund in January.

But beyond the Norwegian, there is a need for greater depth at the Signal Iduna Park for an out-and-out centre-forward. Club captain Marco Reus can play there, but is more comfortable behind a central striker, while midfielders Julian Brandt and Thorgan Hazard have been deployed as false nines in Haaland's absence on occasion.

That means Moukoko could very possibly be eased into the first-team fold as Haaland's understudy and even partner the Norway international in attack when needed.

Moukoko has smashed all manner of records for the Dortmund youths. - Revierfoto via images/Revierfoto

And any doubters need look no further than Moukoko's potential tutor-turned-partner-in-crime for an endorsement of the Dortmund prodigy's pedigree.

"Moukoko is much better than I was at his age. I have never seen such a good 15-year-old in my life," said Haaland after training alongside Moukoko in pre-season. "The advantage for him is that he's already playing for Dortmund at the age of 15. At his age, I was still playing for my home town of Bryne."

Moukoko's debut against Hertha arrived in the 85th minute, replacing Haaland in the lone striker's role in a 4-2-3-1 formation. He had five touches of the ball, won one of four duels, covered 0.75 miles (1.2km), made seven sprints (reaching a top speed of 18.6 mph/30.0 km/h) and found a teammate with both his attempted passes.

There may only be room for one forward in that particular formation, but Haaland is eager to see what would happen if they were together on the pitch at the same time. "Id love to play alongside him," he said at the final whistle.

"I think he's the biggest talent in the world right now. He's 16 years and one day old, that's amazing. He has a big career ahead of him. We're lucky to have him."

Out wide

Another advantage in Moukoko's favour is that in Favre he has a coach that clearly trusts youth. What's more, in Haaland, Sancho, Gio Reyna, and Jude Bellingham, he has around him players who are either going through - or have gone through - similar ascents at a young age.

Moukoko (l.) could become the perfect foil for Erling Haaland (r.) in the Dortmund attack. - imago images

And it may well be that Moukoko is blooded in wide areas before he's unleashed through the middle.

Although an unfamiliar role, the 5'10" Moukoko may benefit from a physically less demanding undertaking on the flanks, where he can exploit his dribbling ability and pace to go beyond defenders on the left or cut inside from the right. Don't forget he's essentially two-footed.

Watch: Dortmund - the new home of the next generation

It's a road well travelled for strikers down the years - see Thierry Henry's early days on the left and Cristiano Ronaldo's transition from winger to centre-forward - and there's no reason why Moukoko can't follow suit, considering his rapid development.

He shares the good old fashioned work ethic that helped make world beaters out of the aforementioned greats, after all.

"He's completely focused, brimming with ambition, plus he's one of the first to arrive at training and one of the last to leave," said Dortmund's U17 coach Sebastian Geppert. "He's the first one to watch the video sequences we send to the players on their phones. Youssoufa invests an incredible amount."

Behind the striker

Moukoko's youth, technical ability and evident thirst for knowledge and improvement suggest that he will become a highly versatile - and important - cog in the Dortmund frontline for years to come.

Lucien Favre (r.) could look to make the most of Moukoko's (r.) speed on the flanks. - imago images

He has already drawn comparisons with Lionel Messi and, as tempered as they must be, there are similarities in their play that are hard to ignore. All things considered, a free role behind a central striker could be right up his street. Messi even sent Moukoko a birthday present when he turned 15 last year!

As well as a low centre of gravity, ruthlessness in front of goal and cultured left foot, he comes complete with an unselfish streak that points to his play-making potential.

"He's popular with everyone. He works for the team and they work for him," said Geppert, highlighting Moukoko the team player.

Moukoko is set to be afforded opportunities at Dortmund he would not receive elsewhere. - imago images

In fact, as mind-boggling as Moukoko's goal-scoring record is, his 27 assists in 88 youth games show that he sets up a teammate nearly every three games and that average would only increase if he was supplying the likes of Haaland and Sancho.

Clearly, there are ample options ahead for Moukoko. Wherever he lines up at senior level, he is guaranteed to shine.