Borussia Dortmund’s Ilkay Gündogan turned heads with his outstanding composure on both the domestic and international stages, while Heung-Min Son’s performances proved eye-catching enough to earn him a summer transfer to UEFA Champions League participants Bayer 04 Leverkusen.
However, when it comes to ‘ones to watch’ in the upcoming campaign, neither make the cut, as in part two of a two part series, bundesliga.com takes a look at the most promising players, who will be 20 years old or younger come the start of the season.
Parker was only promoted to 1. FSV Mainz 05’s senior squad at the start of the last season, but as of October made 16 appearances of which ten were in the starting line-up. Averaging just under 20 sprints per game and boasting a top speed of 32.8 km/h, the striker, who has represented Germany at multiple youth levels, can often be a defenders' nightmare. On the other hand his ill-discipline, which saw him collect two red cards within his first seven matches - a Bundesliga record - whilst winning just 35 per cent of his challenges, can be a defenders' best friend. Stronger alongside a robust target man like Adam Szalai, Parker has a bright future, especially under Thomas Tuchel.
Younes made his Bundesliga debut on Matchday 28 of the 2011/12 Bundesliga season, but emerged as a real prospect for Borussia Mönchengladbach last season when injuries to Patrick Herrmann and Juan Arango opened the door. The German-Lebanese footballer epitomises the qualities required of a modern winger being technically-gifted, boasting bags of pace and willing to take on his marker, as he proved in his first Bundesliga start against Dortmund. Completing 14 of 42 attempted dribbles shows there’s still room for improvement, but having signed a contract extension in January, Younes may still have his part to play in firing the Foals back into Europe.
Jürgen Klopp’s charisma was enough to convince Bittencourt to join Dortmund in 2012, but a lack of game time led to the 19-year-old seeking pastures new. Following in the footsteps of his father Franklin, who made 61 Bundesliga appearances, Bittencourt was widely regarded as one of Germany’s top young talents in 2012. However, his brilliance he only came in flashes at BVB, for whom he bagged a goal and an assist in five top-flight outings. Diminutive in figure, Bittencourt makes up for his lack of physical presence with his intelligence. He only misplaced 14 per cent of his passes in 2012/13, a promising sign for Hannover’s latest signing.
On Matchday 22 of the 2012/13 campaign, Meyer became the ninth youngest Bundesliga debutant before setting-up FC Schalke 04’s second goal against 1. FSV Mainz 05. The rising star, who won a German title with Schalke’s U-19s, followed in the prestigious footsteps of Toni Kroos, Nuri Sahin, Cesc Fabregas and Wayne Rooney when he finished as the top goalscorer and ‘Player of the Tournament’ in the U-17 European Championships in 2012. At just 17 years old Meyer is yet to feature in the Royal Blues’ starting line-up, but after impressing head coach Jens Keller whilst training with the senior squad, could be afforded more opportunities in the upcoming campaign.
Becoming Eintracht Frankfurt’s youngest-ever outfield player when making your Bundesliga debut at just 17 years of age is hard enough. Doing so against FC Bayern Munich doesn’t make it any easier. However, far from looking like a fish out of water, Stendera came off the bench and demonstrated composure beyond his years before going on to feature in five of the Eagles last seven games of the season. Though comfortable on the ball, averaging over 50 touches per 90 minutes, Stendera, who missed Germany’s deciding penalty in the U-17 European Championship final against the Netherlands, needs to improve on finding his teammates after misplacing over 35 per cent of his passes.
Compiled by James Thorogood