Exciting summer signing Jude Bellingham and goalscoring sensation Youssoufa Moukoko have grabbed most of the headlines lately, but Ansgar Knauff is another teenager hoping to make his mark with Borussia Dortmund’s first team this season.
bundesliga.com tells you all you need to know about an 18-year-old who was promoted to the senior squad along with Moukoko ahead of the 2020/21 campaign…
Position: Right winger/Right wing-back
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Country: Germany (U15 cap)
Knauff is eligible to play U19 football again in the 2020/21 season, but has been given the chance to convince first-team head coach Lucien Favre that he deserves to mix it at a higher level. The sprightly wide man joined the Dortmund U15s from Hannover in the summer of 2016, and was soon linking up with teenaged goal machine Moukoko. He scored a couple of goals of his own in his debut season with the U17s as BVB won the 2018/19 U17 Bundesliga West.
Knauff went up a gear with the U19s the following campaign, registering five goals and seven assists in 18 games. As well as making 14 league starts, he also played seven times in the UEFA Youth League, scoring two of his four tournament goals in a 2-1 win over Inter Milan. The youngster's preferred position is on the right-hand side of the attack - he's naturally right-footed - but he can also play on the opposite flank and as a right-back. His current Dortmund deal runs until 30 June 2021.
Plays a bit like: Jadon Sancho
Like everyone connected with Dortmund, Knauff will have watched with wonder as English youngster Sancho developed from a promising teenager into a lethal weapon in the German top flight. Posting numbers like Sancho’s - 17 goals and 16 assists in the 2019/20 Bundesliga - is still a pipe dream for now, but Knauff has shown the potential to bamboozle defenders in a similar fashion. Most notably he glided past three Cologne defenders before finishing off a memorable goal - with his weaker left foot - in the final of the German U17 championship in June 2019.
Watch: Could Knauff one day replicate Sancho's 2019/20 heroics?
Having both filled out and grown in recent months, the latest Dortmund academy prospect will look to prove he has what it takes to survive in the more bruising men’s game. If he is up to the task, he could well become an option at right wing-back if required - his vision and awareness are among his standout qualities. In that regard, he could look back on how Achraf Hakimi performed in the role last season. But he will also get plenty of advice from new recruit Thomas Meunier, since the Belgium international started out as an attacker before becoming a full-back at senior level.
Did you know:
Knauff reportedly first caught the eye of Dortmund’s top brass when he scored that wonder goal as BVB finished as runners-up to Cologne in the German U17 championship. The youngster was equally impressive in the semi-final, though, scoring once and making four more goals as Dortmund beat Wolfsburg over two legs.
What they're saying
"[Knauff is] a very talented young attacking player with good speed and dribbling skills. He's going to do the pre-season first - then we'll see what happens next." – Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc