Youssoufa Moukoko says he is determined to make his mark on the Borussia Dortmund first team after an injury-hit 2021/22 campaign.
Moukoko made history as the Bundesliga's youngest player and goalscorer shortly after turning 16 in 2020/21, but was restricted to just 16 top-flight appearances last season. He recovered full match fitness during the run-in, though, scoring his fifth Bundesliga goal on the final day, before producing three goals across two outings for the Germany U21s in UEFA Euro U21 qualifying at the start of June.
Looking ahead to his second full season in the Bundesliga, Moukoko has three clear objectives. "I definitely want to gain more match practice, score more goals and stay injury-free at all costs," the 17-year-old striker told kicker, Germany's leading sports specialist publication.
"Now I have a break and can take a breather, and then I can throw myself into next season. I'm highly motivated. Playing and scoring for the U21s has filled me with confidence."
Moukoko now has six goals in four appearances for the Germany U21s, adding to his five in 37 games for the Dortmund seniors. The Cameroon-born youngster first played with a BVB team at the age of 12, representing their U15s, and was still only 15 when he earned a call-up from the U19s to first-team training in January 2020.
"I've never seen a 15-year-old that good," ex-teammate Erling Haaland said at the time.
Having registered some 127 goals in his first 84 appearances for the various Dortmund youth teams, Moukoko took advantage of a DFL rule change on age eligibility to become the youngest ever Bundesliga debutant, within 24 hours of his 16th birthday. After rewriting the history books on his UEFA Champions League bow 17 days later, he scribed his name into the annals once more before 2020 was out, as the Bundesliga's greenest scorer, aged 16 years and 28 days.
Watch: Youssoufa Moukoko becomes the youngest scorer in Bundesliga history
Despite being labelled 'the German Lionel Messi' on account of his goal-scoring prowess and playing style, Moukoko says he is able to block out external pressures and focus purely on his own development.
"You just have to learn to deal with it," he affirmed. "I have people around me who keep saying things. My parents, advisors. I think I can handle it. I have nothing to prove to anyone but myself. That's what I've learned."
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