If you've been impressed by Borussia Dortmund academy graduates like Christian Pulisic and Mario Götze, prepare to be stunned by another outrageously gifted youngster in the BVB stable: Youssoufa Moukoko.
The 14-year-old (do not rub your eyes, yes, we did say 14!) has been so prolific in his three insolently short years with the Dortmund U15s, 16s and 17s that he will play for the U19s from 2019/20, youth chief Lars Ricken has confirmed.
"Youssoufa has now reached the age in which he is allowed to play in the U19 team," Ricken told German daily BILD. "We see this as the right year for him to play in this age group, which corresponds to his performance. He's scored a lot of goals, is very inquisitive, hungry for success, hardworking and always comes with a smile that distinguishes him, that’s what we look at. The tools are there."
After netting 50 league goals in 2018/19, the teenage sensation himself is already looking forward despite losing the final of the B-Junioren Bundesliga (U17 level) to Cologne. “I’m proud and thrilled by what we’ve achieved. Fifty goals – I never would’ve managed it without you [his teammates],” Moukoko wrote on social media before sending out a warning to next season’s competition. “I’ll come back even stronger next year and we’ll rock the U19s!”
Moukoko’s rise to stardom began in October 2017 when he was just 12. The child prodigy was the hero of the hour against Schalke, netting a stunning Revierderby brace as the BVB U17s recovered a three-goal deficit to draw 4-4, and put his name on the back pages.
The Cameroon-born prospect finished that season with 'just' 40 goals as Dortmund topped their regional division, before lifting the national title with decisive goals from Moukoko in the semi-final against Bayer Leverkusen and final against Bayern Munich.
Watch: Moukoko's wondergoal, scored against Leverkusen!
In 2018/19 he helped Dortmund seal top spot in Bundesliga West with a game to spare and reach the final once again. He scored two and also provided an assist as BVB beat their Wolfsburg counterparts 4-1 in the first leg of the semi-final. He netted once more in the return leg and in the final against Cologne. Although Borussia fell short of defending their crown, he brought up his half century of goals for the campaign.
Moukoko, who was born in Cameroon on 24 November 2004, joined Dortmund from Bundesliga 2 side St. Pauli in 2016 and immediately hit the ground running.
In 2016/17, he was top scorer in the club's all-conquering U15 side, netting 33 times in 21 games to help them win the Regionalliga West title with five matches to spare. His performances did not go unnoticed by the German FA, who called him up for the U16's 3-1 win over Austria last September.
"It remains to be seen whether or not this will be an extraordinary crop of players," said Peter Wazinski, Moukoko's coach with the U15s. "But we hope that the majority of them will develop in a similar way to the group born in 1998." That includes Pulisic and Jacob Bruun Larsen, as well as reserve team players Janni Serra and Dario Scuderi.
The signs remain strong, though, after another magnificent campaign in 2018/19. The 14-year-old captained the side three years his senior 14 times, and only failed to score on five occasions as Dortmund lost just once all season. He bagged six braces, six hat-tricks and netted four on three occasions against FC Hennef, Preußen Münster and Bielefeld.
While it may be a few more years until Moukoko makes the step up to the pros, the teenager already has big plans for his BVB career. “My goal is to become a professional with Dortmund, win the Champions League with Borussia and win the Ballon d’Or,” the striker told SportBild.
Ricken, however, has been quick to urge caution about Moukoko’s future – pointing out that he won't be able to play for the first team for another couple of years.
“We are staying calm for now and don’t forget that when we judge his performances,” Ricken said. "Just because he's scored a lot of goals at youth level does not guarantee he will become a professional."
Nuri Sahin remains Dortmund's and indeed the Bundesliga's youngest-ever player at the age of 16 years, 11 months and one day. Should Moukoko feature for the first team by the start of the 2021/22 season, he could break that record by a couple of months.