Ansgar Knauff made the world stand up and take notice with a sensational goal against Barcelona in the 2021/22 UEFA Europa League quarter-finals. bundesliga.com profiles Eintracht Frankfurt's Borussia Dortmund loanee...
Spotted by Jürgen Klopp as a 12-year-old in 2014, Knauff did not immediately join the Dortmund academy as it was too far from home, instead opting for Hannover 96 before eventually accepting BVB's invitation in summer 2016. Knauff was eligible to play U19 football again in the 2020/21 season, but instead he was given the chance to convince former first-team head coach Lucien Favre that he deserved 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 teenage 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. He extended his stay in November 2020, penning a contract that runs until the summer of 2023, and followed up by making his senior debut as a substitute in Dortmund's Champions League group-stage win over Zenit in Russia.
Knauff then came on in the 2-2 draw with Cologne in March 2021, marking his Bundesliga bow with an assist for Erling Haaland's last-minute equaliser. Knauff also featured from the bench against Eintracht Frankfurt before interim coach Edin Terzic gave him his first start in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg against Manchester City. Aged 19 years and 86 days, he was the youngest German starter for Dortmund in the knockout stage of the competition. In the same week, Knauff made himself a fan-favourite with his first Bundesliga goal earning Dortmund a 3-2 win away at VfB Stuttgart.
Knauff joined Frankfurt on an 18-month loan deal in January 2022. The Germany U21 international has since become a regular on the right-hand side of the attack, scoring his second Bundesliga goal in a 4-1 win over Hertha Berlin. His third on the senior circuit is the best of the bunch so far, though - a dipping 20-yard half volley past Barca's Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the first leg of Frankfurt's Europa League quarter-final tie. Aged 20 years and 87 days, he is Eintracht's second-youngest scorer ever in the competition after Evan Ndicka (20 years and 44 days).
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. 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 players before finishing off a memorable goal - with his weaker left foot - in the final of the German U17 championship in June 2019. He did something equally eye-catching on his debut at senior level against the same opposition in March 2021, powering past a defender on the right before whipping over a delightful low cross that was gobbled up by Haaland.
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 teenager was equally impressive in the semi-final, though, scoring once and making four more goals as Dortmund beat Wolfsburg over two legs.
Watch: Skip to 00:09 secs to see Ansgar Knauff's first Frankfurt goal
What they're saying
"He's getting better and better. He's understanding more and more what we want here. As a result, his abilities and qualities are really starting to come to the fore. He's heading in the right direction." - Frankfurt head coach Oliver Glasner
"[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
"We're very satisfied with Ansgar's development." – Dortmund youth coordinator Lars Ricken
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