Arijon Ibrahimović (1st.l) is part of the next wave of young players with the potential to light up the Bundesliga in 2024/25. - © DFL
Arijon Ibrahimović (1st.l) is part of the next wave of young players with the potential to light up the Bundesliga in 2024/25. - © DFL
bundesliga

Bundesliga youngsters to watch in 2024/25, featuring Assan Ouédraogo and Arijon Ibrahimović

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Every season, a number of youngsters light up the Bundesliga. Last term, the likes of Aleksandar Pavlović and Maximilian Beier burst onto the scene, but who will follow in their footsteps in 2024/25? bundesliga.com takes a look at five immensely talented starlets you should keep an eye on over the coming 12 months…

Data correct as of 8 July 2024

1) Assan Ouédraogo

Age: 18 (born 9 May 2006)

Club:
RB Leipzig
Position:
Central/ attacking midfield

Country:
Germany (two youth caps)

During what was a disappointing 2023/24 campaign for Schalke, who only finished 10th despite looking to make an immediate return to the Bundesliga, Ouédraogo’s emergence was one of the few bright spots. Having made the U17 and U19 Bundesliga his playground, the midfielder was thrown into the starting XI for Schalke’s opening match against Hamburg.

That was his professional debut – which made him Schalke’s youngest-ever player at the age of 17 years and 80 days – and what a debut it proved to be. Although Die Königsblauen succumbed to a 5-3 defeat, Ouédraogo scored one and created another, making more history by becoming the club’s greenest goalscorer. When you consider this is the club that also saw Mesut Özil, Julian Draxler and Leroy Sané emerge as teenage talents, that is quite an achievement.

Unfortunately for both him and his teammates, his progress was curtailed by injury – a ligament tear reduced him to just 17 league appearances. Still, he impressed whenever he took the field and finished with three strikes, despite playing in several positions in the middle of the park. It soon became clear he would be moving on to bigger and better things and, at Leipzig – a club renowned for their ability to polish rough diamonds – he has the perfect platform to hone his undoubted skills.

Watch: The best of Assan Ouédraogo

2) Arijon Ibrahimović

Age: 18 (born 11 December 2005)
Club:
Bayern Munich
Position:
Attacking midfield
Country:
Germany (U19 - one cap)

Arijon is no relation of the legendary Zlatan, but he is primed to make an impact at a similarly young age for the Bavarians. A Nuremberg native, the winger moved to Der Rekordmeister in 2018 from Der Club, and it quickly became clear the Bavarians had a huge prospect on their hands. He made his U17 debut at the age of the just 15, and was soon not only tearing it up at youth level domestically, but also on the continental stage in the UEFA Youth League.

It was when he began turning out for the U19s, however, that he really stood out. An astonishing 13 goals in 11 Bundesliga matches at that level in 2022/23 earned him a call-up to Bayern’s reserve team, in the fourth tier of professional German football. After continuing to impress, he was given his Bundesliga debut in a 3-0 win over Bochum in February 2023. That made him Bayern’s second-youngest debutant ever in the top flight.

The Bavarians were unable to promise him regular first-team football throughout 2023/24, so he was sent out on loan to Serie A outfit Frosinone. He ended up with 18 appearances in all competitions, as well as two goals, which was enough to convince Bayern to extend his contract until 2027. The club have also announced the teenager will be part of new boss Vincent Kompany’s plans for the 2024/25 campaign, so watch this space.

3) Can Uzun

Age: 18 (born 11 November 2005)
Club:
Eintracht Frankfurt
Position:
Attacking midfield/ forward
Country:
Türkiye (one cap)

Given how prolific Uzun was at youth level for Nuremberg, they had almost no choice but to throw him in at the deep end for the 2023/24 Bundesliga 2 season. The Turkey international averaged more than a goal a game across three seasons with the U17s and U19s, which saw him included in the senior squad’s plans right from the off, and he took to the second tier like a duck to water.

His hat-trick in the first round of the DFB Cup – by which point he was already the club’s youngest professional goalscorer, having found the back of the net againstt Hannover in the league at 17 years and 268 days - was, in hindsight, a clear sign of things to come. Uzun was among the division’s most clinical players despite primarily playing in attacking midfield. Only four players in Bundesliga 2 managed more than his 16 strikes, which came from 30 appearances. That haul was made all the more remarkable by the fact that just four teams scored fewer goals than Nuremberg (43).

A mid-table finish left the outfit with little leverage as they looked to hold on to their star talent, and Frankfurt swooped. Dino Toppmöller is putting together a young, hungry group of players at Deutsche Bank Park, and Uzun should receive plenty of opportunities to show exactly why there is so much hype around him.

4) Brajan Gruda

Age: 19 (born 31 May 2004)

Club:
Mainz
Position:
Attacking midfielder/winger/forward
Country:
Germany/Albania (seven Germany U21 caps, one goal)

Unlike the other names on this list, Gruda already has a full season of Bundesliga football under his belt. Having played a role in securing Mainz’s future in the division after a close shave in 2023/24, the 20-year-old is set to underline his obvious potential by helping the 05ers move up the table under the tutelage of Bo Henriksen.

Gruda was captain of the Mainz U19 outfit that were crowned German champions in 2022/23, making his progression to the first-team almost inevitable. And, as they struggled in the opening stages of 2023/24, Gruda was one of the few to acquit himself well. Nevertheless, it was when Mainz started to recover from a run of just one win in their opening 21 Bundesliga games that he truly began to attract attention.

He ended up scoring in three of his final six games of the season, and bagged a goal and an assist on the final-day triumph over Wolfsburg, a result that guaranteed he and his teammates would be playing in the Bundesliga in 2024/25. His performances were then recognised by Germany head coach Julian Nagelsmann. While he was not included in the 26-man group for UEFA Euro 2024, he was one of two players called up to make up the numbers in the initial absence of those who played in the UEFA Champions League final. Should his development continue, he may well be a regular feature internationally around the 2026 FIFA World Cup cycle.

Brajan Gruda was called up to the Germany squad for their pre-Euro 2024 training camp. - IMAGO/Frank Hoermann / SVEN SIMON

5) Paul Wanner

Age: 18 (born 23 December 2005)
Club:
Heidenheim (on loan Bayern Munich
Position:
Attacking midfielder
Country:
Germany (two goals, three U20 caps)

Wanner has long been tipped for the top by those in the know at Bayern. After all, he is the youngest first-team debutant in the club’s history at 16 years and 15 days, with only Borussia Dortmund starlet Youssoufa Moukoko making his top-flight bow at a younger age. That maiden appearance in January 2022 came about rather fortuitously as Bayern struggled with a COVID-19 outbreak, injuries and a depleted squad due to the Africa Cup of Nations, but his inclusion suggested he was not too far down the pecking order.

Still, first-team minutes were always going to be hard to come by, and so the decision was made for Wanner to join newly promoted Elversberg in Bundesliga 2. Elversberg were tipped for an immediate return to the 3. Liga, but they surpassed expectations to finish 11th. The Bayern loanee played an important part in their survival, amassing six goals and three assists.

Competition for places, especially in attacking midfield, is fierce at the Allianz Arena, and so Wanner will spend the 2024/25 campaign on loan at Heidenheim, who will embark on a first European adventure after qualifying for the UEFA Europa Conference League. Frank Schmidt has earned a reputation as a strong coach who gets the best out of his players, and Heidenheim's link-up with Wanner could be a match made in heaven.

Paul Wanner impressed on loan at Elversberg. - IMAGO/Fabian Kleer

6) Justin Diehl

Age: 19 (born 27 November 2004)
Club:
VfB Stuttgart
Position:
Left winger
Country:
Germany (19 youth caps, four goals)

Considering Cologne struggled offensively for much of the 2023/24 campaign – they ultimately managed just 28 goals in 34 games – it is surprising that they did not use Diehl more frequently. In the end, the 19-year-old winger started on just one occasion and made only six more substitute appearances.

His form for the U19s and Cologne’s second string was certainly worthy of more trust. Twenty-two goals in 32 matches for the U19s were followed by 12 efforts and nine assists in 19 games in the Regionalliga – very healthy numbers for a left winger.

Justin Diehl will get a chance to shine at Stuttgart. - IMAGO/BEAUTIFUL SPORTS/Wunderl

With Diehl out of contract since the end of the 2023/24 term, VfB Stuttgart pounced, and he will now ply his trade at the MHPArena. Sebastian Hoeneß has allowed numerous youngsters, such as Enzo Millot and Angelo Stiller, to flourish for Die Schwaben, and Cologne’s loss could well prove to be Stuttgart’s gain.