The summer 2018 transfer window is open and plenty of Bundesliga clubs have been getting their business done with a number of youthful signings. bundesliga.com looks at 11 new signings under the age of 23 who could light up the German top flight this season.
Leo Weinkauf (Goalkeeper, Hannover)
Weinkauf is not the only goalkeeper hoping to make a Bundesliga bow this season, as Danish netminder Frederik Rönnow will battle it out with Felix Wiedwald to try to replace the departed Lukas Hradecky as Eintracht Frankfurt number one. Dutch custodian Mark Flekken, meanwhile, has moved from lower-league Duisburg to Freiburg.
At 21, however, Weinkauf is the youngest new signing in goal with a chance of seeing some action. Having joined Bayern Munich from Werder Bremen in 2015, he had plenty of time to learn from the likes of Manuel Neuer and Sven Ulreich. He was a regular for their reserve side, and even made the bench for the first team four times over the past two seasons.
After joining a club where he feels he can take the “next steps” in his career, Weinkauf will now look to challenge experienced keepers Philipp Tschauner and Michael Esser for a starting place at Hannover.
“Leo is a very well-trained young goalkeeper with huge potential,” Hannover goalkeeping coach Jörg Sievers said.
Pablo Maffeo (Right-back, VfB Stuttgart)
Maffeo only turns 21 in July, but the recent arrival from Manchester City already has plenty of first-team experience behind him. The Spain U21 full-back spent the past two seasons on loan with Girona in his homeland, helping them earn promotion in his first year and playing 33 games in La Liga last term as his side secured a mid-table finish.
Having also played three games for Manchester City two seasons ago, Maffeo is now ready for a new challenge – one that former Bayern and current City boss Pep Guardiola advised him on.
“Pep Guardiola spoke highly of the Bundesliga, and those in charge at Stuttgart went to great lengths to persuade me,” he said.
“There were a lot of enquiries for Pablo Maffeo from England and Spain, but he opted for Stuttgart instead,” Stuttgart sporting director Michael Reschke added. “Pablo is player with a big heart and a lot of force.”
Felix Götze (Centre-back, Augsburg)
Older brother Mario has shown how it’s done, and now Felix Götze wants to establish himself as a Bundesliga regular with Augsburg. The 20-year-old - who can play in defence or a holding midfield role - had a good apprenticeship over the past few years with Bayern and at the Borussia Dortmund youth academy before that.
Now Felix is planning to become the next youngster to make a name for himself at Augsburg.
“I have been following Augsburg closely and have seen how much faith they put in young players,” he told the Bavarian outfit's official website. “So I think the move to Augsburg is perfect, and the best way for me to further develop as much as possible.”
Abdou Diallo (Centre-back, Borussia Dortmund)
Diallo’s career is going from strength to strength, after he first cut his teeth with Monaco and on loan with Belgian side Zulte Waregem before a standout first season in the Bundesliga with Mainz. The France U21 captain is now preparing for his next challenge with Borussia Dortmund, and could form a classy centre-back partnership with Switzerland international Manuel Akanji under new boss Lucien Favre.
The left-footed defender scored three goals in all competitions for Mainz last season, and Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc feels the club have a real talent on their hands.
“He’s a modern, intelligent defender – capable on the ball,” Zorc said. “It was a combination of his potential and his versatility that really caught our eye.”
Marcelo Saracchi (Left-back, RB Leipzig)
Leipzig have earned a reputation for both spotting and developing young talent, and the latest one to watch out for is left-back Saracchi. The Uruguayan started out with local side Danubio but needed just one season with Argentine giants River Plate to really make his mark.
Saracchi was part of Uruguay’s team at the U20 World Cup in 2017, and this year he played six matches in the Copa Libertadores – the South American equivalent of the UEFA Champions League.
The speedy full-back’s “mindset and potential fit well” with Leipzig’s philosophy, according to sporting director Ralf Rangnick, while the player himself was delighted to join the team that finished sixth in the Bundesliga last season.
“I’ve been really impressed with how such a young team has been such a sensation in one of the best leagues in the world,” he told Leipzig’s official website. “I like the aggressive and attacking style of play, and I’m looking forward to the challenge in Europe.”
Luca Waldschmidt (Attacking midfielder, Freiburg)
Waldschmidt has already made headlines in the Bundesliga – marking his 21st birthday with a last-gasp winner against Wolfsburg two seasons ago that saved Hamburg from relegation.
Waldschmidt got his second Bundesliga goal in another relegation six-pointer against Wolfsburg in April, but this time the 22-year-old attacking midfielder was unable to save his club from being demoted for the first time in their history.
The Germany U21 international opted to stay in the top-flight by joining Freiburg, however, which he described as “a good location for young players.”
“I have the feeling that I’m in the right place for my future development,” the club's new number 11 said.
Aymen Barkok (Attacking midfielder, Fortuna Düsseldorf)
A loan move is often a good way for a young player to build on what he’s already achieved, and Barkok will be hoping that his switch from Eintracht to newly-promoted Fortuna Düsseldorf will do just that.
The 20-year-old midfielder has played in 27 Bundesliga matches over the past two seasons, and in 2017 he won a silver Fritz Walter Medal – given to the second-best German U19 player of that year.
Barkok has started only nine league matches, however, and Eintracht clearly feel that the opportunity to earn more playing time is all the Germany U21 international needs.
“We remain as convinced as ever by Aymen’s ability, which is why we tied him to a four-year contract in 2016 and have extended his contract by another year at the same time as agreeing this loan,” Eagles sporting director Bruno Hübner said.
Keanan Bennetts (Winger, Borussia Mönchengladbach)
Following in the footsteps of Reece Oxford, Jadon Sancho and Ademola Lookman, Bennetts is the latest young English player who has decided that the Bundesliga is the right league in which to further his development.
The 19-year-old left-winger has made the move to Gladbach after scoring nine goals for Spurs’ youth sides last season – including two in the UEFA Youth League. Bennetts’ transition to life in Germany should be a little bit easier given that his mother is from Hamburg, and he was happy to commit to a four-year deal with the Foals.
“Borussia are a massive club,” he said. “It’s a dream come true for young players to get a chance like this. When a team comes along and shows so much faith in you, you have to say ‘yes.’”
Watch: Check out new Gladbach signing Keanan Bennetts' German skills!
Paulinho (Winger, Bayer Leverkusen)
Paulinho will link up with Bayer Leverkusen when he turns 18 in mid-July. The rapid attacker – who can play on either wing or through the middle – made his professional debut as a 16-year-old and went on to play over 30 matches for Brazilian club Vasco da Gama.
He even scored twice in this year’s Copa Libertadores before a broken arm checked his momentum in April. Nevertheless, Leverkusen had seen enough and moved to sign the teenager. The club's proven track record of nurturing Brazilian players played a major part in Paulinho’s decision.
“Emerson, Lucio, Jorginho, Ze Roberto and Juan were fantastic players whose global career started at Bayer 04,” he told Leverkusen's website.
“The club has a great reputation back home and everybody knows them as a club in Europe where a lot of Brazilians have been happy. Renato Augusto cried when he left Leverkusen, and with Wendell I know how much they support young foreign pros.”
Javairo Dilrosun (Winger, Hertha Berlin)
Signing thrilling young wingers seems to be all the rage in the Bundesliga this summer, and Hertha Berlin have added their own in the shape of Dutch youth international Dilrosun.
The former Ajax youngster, who turned 20 towards the end of June, was part of Manchester City’s U23 side before becoming Hertha’s first signing of the summer.
The Amsterdam native said he learned many of his skills on the streets, and he is now looking forward to showcasing them in Germany.
“I’m a winger that can play on either the right or the left,” he told Hertha’s website. “Sometimes I can play centrally behind the striker, but I prefer the wing. I have a lot of pace, agility and technical ability. I love taking defenders on in one-on-ones. I’m left footed, with room to improve on my right.”
Jean-Philippe Mateta (Striker, Mainz)
Goals were something of a problem for Mainz last season, since they managed only 38 in 34 league matches. The 05ers have moved to address that by convincing Lyon to part with Mateta, who had a hugely successful spell on loan at French Ligue 2 side Le Havre last term.
The rangy 21-year-old helped them to the promotion play-offs, and finished the campaign with 19 goals in 37 league matches.
“He proved in a strong French second tier that he can score regularly in a high-level league,” Mainz sporting director Rouven Schröder said. “His physicality and his play convinced us of his quality. Jean-Philippe chose us amidst interest from several other clubs from England because he was convinced by our ideology and our philosophy as a club which helps players to reach their full potential.”
“The Bundesliga is a top league,” he said. “The stadiums are full and the atmosphere in the stands is fantastic.”