Union Berlin already have top attacking players in Taiwo Awoniyi and Max Kruse, but highly rated teenager Malick Sanogo could soon join them as a proficient Bundesliga forward.
bundesliga.com fills you in on the exciting young striker whose father played in the Bundesliga and who has been looking to one of the game's best ever players for inspiration.
Club: Union Berlin
Country: USA/Ivory Coast/Germany
Sanogo was born in New York in 2004 and is the son of Boubacar Sanogo, a forward who played for Kaiserslautern, Hamburg, Werder Bremen, Hoffenheim and Energie Cottbus between 2005 and 2014. The ex-Ivory Coast international ended his playing career with Berlin club VSG Altglienicke in 2018, and in October 2019 he was hired by Union to coach the attacking players in their youth ranks. That means that Sanogo Snr. - who became head coach of Union's U17 team ahead of the 2021/22 season - has been well placed to witness his son's development. Sanogo linked up with Union the same year as his father did, joining the east Berlin outfit from Energie Cottbus. He then enjoyed a stunning 2019/20 campaign, getting 16 goals and seven assists in 21 matches for the club's U17 side.
The coronavirus pandemic restricted youth football in Germany during 2020/21, but Sanogo still managed six goals and one assist in four U17 matches that season as well as make his first appearance for the U19 team. Every cloud has a silver lining, and the suspension of youth football meant the teenager was invited to spend valuable time training with the senior squad and learning from the likes of the crafty Max Kruse and powerful Taiwo Awoniyi. Strong on either foot, he got his first minutes with the first team in March 2021 after coming on as a substitute in a friendly against Eintracht Braunschweig. The promising youngster signed a new long-term contract in August 2021, shortly before he got his first goals for Union's U19s.
Plays a bit like: Boubacar Sanogo
Sanogo's idol is Cristiano Ronaldo but the apple doesn't fall far from the tree in this case, the youngster showing the same attacking style and prowess that fired his father to 51 goals across Germany's top two divisions. Boubacar - who scored 11 Bundesliga goals for Bremen and 10 for Kaiserslautern – says Malick has the necessary ambition, determination and raw ability to give himself a chance of building on his obvious potential.
Did you know?
Sanogo was born in America because his mother was living there while his father played for Al-Ain in the United Arab Emirates between 2002 and 2005. That means the youngster is eligible to play for three countries at international level, although he has not yet represented any of them. Germany did call him up to play in an U17 match in 2020, but the game was cancelled.
What they're saying
"What he has achieved so far is already very good. I think he can become a pro. Malick epitomises a modern striker - he's fast and has an eye for goal in particular." – Sanogo's father Boubacar speaking in an interview with the DFB [German FA] in July 2021
"Malick has special skills for a striker, so we're very happy to hold onto him. Our aim is for him to make the jump to the first team in the medium term so that he can play in the Bundesliga." – Lutz Munack, Union's head of youth football, speaking after Sanogo signed a new deal with the club in 2021
"Malick and [teenage defender] Mathis [Bruns] are good lads and have the chance to make the step up with Union. The lockdown has prevented the young players from training, so it's important that they get some practice with the pros. [Union head coach] Urs Fischer is very open when it comes to promoting young talent." – Oliver Ruhnert, Union's Director of Professional Football, speaking to Sport Bild in December 2020